Sometimes nothing is a good thing. For FC Dallas, none is the word of the week because that is how many players are on the team's injury report. For the first time in 2006, all is quiet in the Hoops training room and that is music to the ears of head coach Colin Clarke.
"We probably need another team," Clarke quipped. "We've got a lot of healthy bodies and a lot of people fighting for spots. It's a great position to be in. That's what we've wanted to do and get here for a long time and now we've got it."
Having every member of their roster healthy couldn't come at a better time for the Hoops, who will play three games over the next eight days. On Saturday, they travel to Houston to face Dynamo in the first meeting of the season between the squads. Then on Wednesday, reigning MLS Cup champion Los Angeles makes their first visit of 2006 to Pizza Hut Park. Rounding out the slate will be a return match against Houston next Saturday at Pizza Hut Park.
In recent weeks, two players who have missed significant time due to injury, goalkeeper Jeff Cassar and Richard Mulrooney, have returned.
Cassar, who heading into the season was fully recovered from an injured right shoulder suffered last August, suffered a hip injury in the preseason that has kept him from action until recently. The veteran netminder was between the posts for all 90 minutes of last weekend's Reserve Division contest with D.C. United.
He is happy to say the last to finally be healthy.
"Our trainer has been working hard with everyone that has been injured," he said. "It's a good time to have everyone back to strength."
Cassar also knows how vital the team's depth will be in the coming week.
"We have a lot of games coming up," he said. "I played in the reserve game 90 minutes and we tied 0-0. I felt good. It was a nice, solid performance. I'm happy about it."
Like Cassar, Mulrooney also has been worked back into action by playing in the Reserve Division. Two weeks ago against Kansas City, he saw his first game action in nearly a year when he entered the game in the 46th minute. Last week, he played all 90 minutes against United.
His road has been a long one back to active duty. He was acquired by the Hoops in a trade with San Jose in January 2005 with Arturo Alvarez. But just seven games into his FCD career, he suffered a turn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last May. Ironically enough, his injury came in his first game against his former team and happened on their home pitch.
Earlier this week, Mulrooney had some fluid drained from his knee, but from all indications, it appears that he will be available for selection this weekend. However, it will likely be another game or two before he returns to the pitch.
Returning to the lineup is all that is on his mind.
"It's frustrating every time I see MLSnet.com and check the injury report to see my name on there," he said. "That's something as player that you never want to see. To finally be off that means I'm going in the right direction. To finally be an option and to not be out on injured reserve gives me a boost I really can't describe."
Alvarez is also healthy after missing the last two games due to a sprained ankle. The Houston native knows the timing of his return, with the Hoops heading to his hometown for a game against the Dynamo this weekend couldn't be better.
"I'm glad I'm back," he said. "I'm glad I'm healthy and I'm glad to be back on the field. I really can't wait to go back home and play against the Houston Dynamo."
Forward Carlos Ruiz, who was nursing a sore hamstring last weekend but came into the game in the 84th minute against D.C. United, looks to be healthy and should be in the starting 11.
Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.