Injuries certainly never come at a good time. But for FC Dallas, losing two starters in last weekend's match in San Jose comes as the team starts a very busy stretch of the schedule in advance of a long road spell that will also coincide with national team absences.
The club learned midfielder Richard Mulrooney will be out for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee. And while the prognosis for left back David Wagenfuhr -- an injury originally thought to be a fractured kneecap is only a deep bruise -- he will still miss Wednesday's match against the Colorado Rapids.
"Obviously very, very disappointed," said FCD coach Colin Clarke on losing Mulrooney for the season. "For Richard more than anybody, he was having a good season. I'm sure he was pushing himself back into recognition for the national team or getting on the edge of it. It's just devastating for him."
For FC Dallas, it's a rare home game this week as the team awaits the opening of the Frisco Soccer and Entertainment Center. It's their first game at the Cotton Bowl since April 23, and they'll next play at home on June 18 - with four road matches in between. Winless in their last three games, the club needs to claim the full three points against the Rapids.
"So it's good for us to reestablish ourselves in the middle of midfield and just as a team in general. I think we can do that, Colorado is a team that's had a little bit of a tough run this season so I think we need to take advantage of that especially being at home."
Chris Gbandi is likely to get the call to play left back in place of Wagenfuhr. Gbandi has been a starter in the past and has shown flashes of potential to become a solid defender in MLS.
"Chris Gbandi is an experienced player," said Vanney. "He knows how to play left back and I think his concentration is good right now, I've had some talks with him the last few days and he seems like he's ready to play.
"I don't feel bad, I think we have guys who can step into every position and help us out. We'll be OK, Chris's experience and his understanding of the position will help us back there so we'll be fine."
Gbandi offers the same athleticism and arguably more speed than Wagenfuhr which should make the transition a smooth one in that position.
The midfield is another story. To replace a player like Mulrooney -- who has been stellar for Dallas since coming over from San Jose in the offseason -- in the middle of a season is a tough hurdle to climb for a team still finding its identity.
The going gets tougher after Wednesday's game for Dallas as Vanney and Eddie Johnson have both been called into the U.S. national team match for its match against England just as the team starts another long road trip.
"It's very big for us," said Carey Talley. "Especially at this stage, we're in the middle of a big road stretch, we've got to get the points for sure at home and make sure we take care of our house first. Right now we've got six out of six points there at home and hopefully we get the ninth here."
Scott Joiner is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.