FRISCO, Texas – The fact that former Wigan Athletic and Colorado Rapids strongman Hendry Thomas was one of FC Dallas’ first offseason acquisitions is a sign that head coach Oscar Pareja came in ready to address the team’s major weakness from last year: defensive midfield.
Along with the addition of Adam Moffat, combined with a healthy Peter Luccin and veteran Andrew Jacobson, there already appears to be a different identity to FCD's spine. Thomas, for one, brings a physical presence wherever he goes.
It’s a role the Honduran international more than embraces – he has eight yellow cards and 76 fouls committed in 35 career MLS games.
“I am a physical player,” Thomas told MLSsoccer.com through a translator on Wednesday. “I’m always in contact with players on the other team because I think it’s really important for the position I play. I get a lot of satisfaction from winning the ball, getting the ball back. That’s what my job is, to recover the ball and get it back in possession for the team. If I do that, I know I’m doing my job.”
Thomas obviously has a strong familiarity with Pareja’s system from their time together with the Rapids. He believes that experience will allow him to be a leader on the field and to help lessen the learning curve for his teammates as they try to master Pareja’s system.
Pareja said he likes all of his options at defensive midfield and shied away from saying Thomas is a likely starter.
“Thomas will bring experience, presence, and he knows what the role is in the middle,” Pareja said. “I know he will be a good piece.”
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Thomas’ presence also creates a glut of options in front of the defense, potentially creating a constant battle for minutes. But it’s a situation that the 27-year-old embraces and said will serve the team well over the course of a long season.
“Oscar’s put together a really good group of players for this team,” he said. “It’s pretty much two, three players deep at every position, which is what you need to succeed in this league.
"It’s good that we have competition everyday on the practice field to get us ready for [the season opener] March 8, especially in the defensive midfielder position where we really have some depth now that can help this team through the rigors of an MLS season.”