FRISCO, Texas – For FC Dallas coach Luchi Gonzalez, responding from a three-match winless run is a more complicated task than simply getting his team to play better.
As Gonzalez prepares to face LAFC at Banc of California Stadium on Thursday night (10 pm ET | ESPN2, MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada), he does so with a side shorthanded by an injury bug and youth international call-ups.
Wide midfielder Santiago Mosquera is the latest health casualty. He was stretchered off the field late in Dallas' 3-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls Saturday with a knee injury, forcing Gonzalez's side to finish with 10 men after he had already used his three subs. However, the severity of the Colombian Designated Player signing's ailment is less serious than it first appeared.
“Santi, a few weeks out. Not as bad as what maybe we had thought earlier,” Gonzalez said after training Tuesday. “It’s potentially three-to-four weeks, something that he should be bouncing back from. It’s good to know it’s not long-term because there was a scare. But we know he’s going to bounce back strong.”
Forward Dominique Badji is also a question after his 29th-minute exit Saturday, as is holding midfielder Carlos Gruezo, who missed the game and remains questionable with a "lower body strain," according to the club's injury report.
Badji returned to training Tuesday, but left early as a precaution.
“He’s got a hip pointer contusion, but it’s just a pain tolerance type of thing,” Gonzalez said. “It was great to see him out there today. We shut him down intentionally early. We don’t want to risk anything.”
Midfielder Paxton Pomykal (hamstring strain) will also miss Thursday’s match, though he could be available for the sides' rematch in Texas on Sunday. Then next week, he would join teammates Edwin Cerrillo and Brandon Servania on the US roster for the 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Cerrillo and Servania already departed for the U-20 camp following Saturday's loss.
“Paxton, he’s going to get on the ball by the end of the week,” Gonzalez said. “Then we’ll make a decision whether he’s cleared for the weekend.”
In all the commotion, there is one roster bright spot for the first-year coach, who will welcome midfielder Michael Barrios back after he served a yellow-card accumulation Saturday. That ended a streak of 96 consecutive MLS matches played, second-longest by a position player in league history.
“Yeah, Mikey’s an important player for us,” Gonzalez said. “He gives us verticality. He can attack open spaces. He’s a player that can score or assist in important moments. It was good for him to get a little rest. He’s been sharp this week, a good piece to have ready for this opportunity on Thursday.”