While the recent knee injury to midfielder Marvin Chávez -- who is slated to start on the right flank for FC Dallas in 2010 -- is a concern, the Honduran playmaker’s ailment has also been somewhat of a boon to another member of FCD’s roster: third-year midfielder Eric Avila.
In Chávez’s absence after he took a knock to his knee during a preseason trip to Orlando last month, Avila has filled in and performed well, especially during a recent six-day trek to Tampa.
“I think Avi had a slow start in preseason but he’s really picked it up,” FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman said after training on Wednesday. “He’s very quick. Sometimes when he gets into the middle, he really causes a lot of problems for the opposition. If we can just get him to make better decisions, he wants to score a goal so bad or create a chance so bad that sometimes he just runs out of ideas and tries to flick a pass on. I think the last two weeks, he’s really raised his level and we’re really excited about that.”
Avila agrees that he didn’t start off as well during preseason as he would have liked.
“I came in and couldn’t find myself," he told MLSsoccer.com. "I was still trying to find myself, how I was feeling, what was going on and what the situation was. In Tampa, I think I found myself. I had a word with coach before going to Tampa and he gave me a couple of encouraging words. He told me that he had never seen me like that and I could do better. That helped me a lot.”
He added that it was during the trip to Tampa was when he truly found himself.
“On the trip overall, I think I did well,” he said. “I think I could do a lot more but it was a point where I needed to step up, be me and try to help out the team as much as I can by listening to coach and doing what he wants. Overall, I think the Tampa trip was a good trip for me. I think I just need to step up and do my role. I need to do my job, help my teammates around me and I think I’ll be fine.”
And with Chávez likely unavailable for Saturday’s preseason finale with Columbus, Avila figures to get another chance to impress his coach. Though he likely won’t feature against the Crew, according to Hyndman.
“I think that strain on his knee is probably going to be a couple weeks away,” Hyndman said. “We’re hoping we’ll be able to get him in for the Houston game.”
The FCD coach admits his Honduran midfielder’s injury was a bit more serious than was initially thought.
“We thought he might be able to play [when we went to Mississippi a few weeks ago],” Hyndman said. “I think the movement does pretty well for him but where it hurts is when he brings it internally or when he kicks the ball.”
Avila is keeping things simple in the interim.
“Of course I want to be in the first group,” he said. “Coming in during the second half gives us that energy and that boost. I want to carry that in from the start as a starter. I want to make [Hyndman’s] decision harder. I’m trying to do my best and I’ll see what happens.”