Hoops' Nunez out with ankle injury

FC Dallas midfielder Ramon Nunez will miss the next two to three weeks due to a sprained right ankle. Nunez suffered the injury in the second half of FCD's 2-1 loss to the Columbus Crew on Saturday at Pizza Hut Park.

"It's probably going to be a week or two [before he can return]," said head coach Colin Clarke. "It's disappointing to lose him."

Nunez had started the last seven games for the Hoops and had two goals and two assists. The second-year player who was the sixth overall pick in the 2004 MLS Super Draft after one year at SMU, finished last season with a flurry, scoring five goals in his last 10 games.

However, any hopes of carrying that momentum forward into this season were dashed a bit by a strained right quadriceps muscle that bothered him for most of the preseason. Clarke still gave him the starting nod in the season opener on April 1 against Chicago.

The ironic thing about Nunez's injury is that he replaced Arturo Alvarez when he sprained his ankle in Week Three against Colorado. Against Columbus, the shoe was on the other foot as Alvarez replaced Nunez when he suffered an ankle sprain of his own.

Clarke's options to replace Nunez are threefold. Alvarez, who of late, has been playing well with the Hoops reserves with two goals and two assists, is a serious contender, especially considering he played on the left side in his three starts earlier this year. He also had a goal in the season opener against the Fire.

Mark Wilson, who started the first five games of the year before Richard Mulrooney returned from injury, is another candidate. Wilson scored the game winner against Real Salt Lake, his first career goal in MLS, in his first start of the season. Like Alvarez, he has also put in some good performances recently with the FCD reserves.

The third option could be Aaron Pitchkolan, who like Wilson, also has a game-winning goal this season. "Pitch" has played in six games so far this year, all off the bench. But it was in stoppage time against Kansas City in Week Four that he made his mark, scoring the clincher in the 94th minute, just minutes after the Wizards had tied the contest.

With such a deep roster, Clarke has his share of viable options to replace Nunez. The Hoops will look to rebound from their first home loss of the season on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT when they host Chivas USA at Pizza Hut Park.

Steve Hunt is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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