Depth proves essential for FC Dallas

The depth chart for FC Dallas has already been tested and will continue to be scrutinized over the next month. The team has lost two starters to injuries and will lose at least a few more to national team duties over the middle part of the MLS schedule. FC Dallas head coach Colin Clarke will need to make some tough decisions on who to go with and who to sit when a few key pieces to the puzzle will be missing. Listed below are the players who will be absent at different times over the next three weeks and beyond and the ones who must step up to fill their shoes:

Richard Mulrooney - Mulrooney suffered a torn ACL in his right knee on May 14 in San Jose and will miss the remainder of the 2005 season. Considering Mulrooney was an integral part of the squad's early success, the announcement was a huge blow. However, the team bounced back from the news with two straight wins on May 18 vs. Colorado and on May 22 at Chivas USA. Oscar Pareja started for Mulrooney on May 18 and was subbed out in the 60th minute for Ramon Nuñez. Nuñez immediately delivered with his first career MLS assist just 41 seconds after entering the match to help FC Dallas tie the score at 1-1. They went on to win the game 2-1 and snap a 40-game winless streak (0-34-6) when trailing at halftime. Nuñez then started in place of Mulrooney at Chivas USA last Sunday night and posted an assist just 31 seconds into the match to give FC Dallas a 1-0 lead.

Carey Talley - Talley suffered fractured ribs on May 18 vs. Colorado and will now miss the next four weeks. He went down in the 10th minute and Aaron Pitchkolan came in to make his MLS debut. Just four days later, Pitchkolan made his first MLS start for Talley and became the fourth player in team history to post a goal and an assist during his first MLS start. He scored the team's first goal and assisted on Eddie Johnson's goal that gave FC Dallas a 4-2 lead.

Eddie Johnson - Johnson will miss two FC Dallas matches coming up due to U.S. national team commitments. He will miss this weekend's match at D.C. United and the next weekend's match at Real Salt Lake. One candidate to replace him at the outside forward position is Roberto Mina. Mina scored his first MLS goal after entering the Chivas match on Sunday in the 75th minute for Johnson.

Greg Vanney - Like Johnson, could miss the following two matches due to his call-up to the national team. He has played every minute this season with the team at center back and could be tough to replace. However, FC Dallas still has a proven MLS veteran who has not seen playing time with the first team this year. Steve Jolley has played in two matches with the reserve team and is itching to get on the field. He could have his chance this weekend at D.C. United. Another viable option for Colin Clarke will be to play the steady Drew Moor who has seen time at the center midfield position and comes from college as a center back. Moor has appeared in just four games this season and has yet to make a start.

Ramon Nuñez - The 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship will take place in Holland from June 10 - July 2. Ramon Nuñez has been playing an important role for the Honduras team during qualifying and will miss time with FC Dallas. MLS veteran Oscar Pareja will help fill this void in the middle.

Arturo Alvarez - Another candidate for the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship is Arturo Alvarez with the U.S. U-20 team. Alvarez did not get the call-up for the last friendly the U-20 team played and the jury is still out on if he will get the call for the World Youth Championships. If he does not get the call, he will be asked to help fill the shoes for Eddie Johnson up top along with Roberto Mina.

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