Eric Avila got his first start of 2010 on Thursday in front of his family who flew to Frisco from California
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Avila hopes to get encore as starter vs. Union

FRISCO, Texas – Thursday was a big day for Eric Avila. Not only was the FC Dallas midfielder getting his first start of 2010 in a friendly with European champions Inter Milan, but the San Diego native also had his mother and two brothers in town to see him start for the first time as a professional.

“This was my first start that my family ever saw live,” Avila said. “They were excited. My two brothers couldn’t believe I was playing against [Samuel] Eto’o, [Esteban] Cambiasso in the middle and Júlio César. In the tunnel, I was star-struck, but as soon as the game started, I was fine.”

Avila delivered a solid performance in his 60 minutes of action. He took a shot from distance about three minutes in and just before halftime he lofted a ball toward the box that teammate George John headed into the back of the net to tie the match at 1-1.

In his postgame presser, Avila was one of the players FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman singled out for their performance against the UEFA Champions League winners.

“I thought he did very well," Hyndman said. "He defended as hard as he attacked. Big game. It was a great opportunity and he embraced it. The thing is now, can he grow from it?”

Getting the start against Inter was an interesting turn of events for Avila. That’s because it was just a few weeks ago that he was left off the 18-man game roster for several contests after his form dipped in practice.

“I was kind of confused and disappointed," Avila admitted. "My practices weren’t going well. I just decided to focus on myself. I kept a positive attitude and it was hard for me to do that.”

A solid week of training before last weekend’s trip to Colorado earned him action in a reserve game against the Rapids reserves, a match that really turned things around for the affable playmaker.

Now his family members, who will remain in town through Monday, could possibly get to see him start on Sunday afternoon against Philadelphia at Pizza Hut Park after matching up against Inter Milan.

Should Avila get the nod to start on Sunday, it will be his first time as a starter in league play since August 16, 2008, at Columbus. Since that last start, he has been one of the first players off the bench, often as an “energy guy” whose role is to help spark the attack with his fresh legs, pace and good vision.

His best competition to start in the linking midfield spot could be rookie Eric Alexander or Bruno Guarda. Mainstay Dax McCarty has an outside shot to return from a right quadriceps injury.

"Hopefully things turn out well and I do get the nod to come out and start," he said. "If I do, I’ll be ready. I feel good to go, know my role and everything.”

FRISCO, Texas---Thursday was a big day for Eric Avila. Not only was the FC Dallas midfielder getting his first start of 2010 in a friendly with Inter Milan, but the San Diego native also had his mother and two brothers in town to see him start for the first time as a professional.

            Avila delivered a solid performance in his 60 minutes of action. He took a shot from distance about three minutes in and about three minutes before halftime, lofted a ball toward the box that teammate George John headed into the back of the net to tie things at 1-1.

            In his postgame presser, Avila was one of the players FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman singled out for their performance against the UEFA Champions League winners.

            “I thought he did very well. He defended as hard as he attacked,” Hyndman said. “Big game, it was a great opportunity and he embraced it. The thing is now, can he grow from it?”

            Getting the start against Inter was an interesting turn of events for Avila. That’s because it was just a few weeks ago that he was left off the 18-man game roster for several contests after his form dipped in practice.

            The young midfielder admits that whole scenario gave him a wide range of emotions.

            “I was kind of confused and disappointed. My practices weren’t going well,” Avila said. “I just decided to focus on myself. I kept a positive attitude and it was hard for me to do that. I took it in.”

            And as one of the more laid-back guys on FCD, he admits that having such a go with the flow attitude can sometimes have unintended consequences.

            “There’s nothing wrong with that but at times, some people do take it as too relaxed,” Avila said. “I’m always ready to go but I guess it can backfire on you. As long as we’re winning, that’s all that matters. I just want to help the team out as much as possible.”

            But it was a solid week of training before last weekend’s trip to Colorado, when he played in a reserve game with the Rapids reserves that really turned things around for the affable playmaker.

            “I think I had good training sessions throughout the week before Colorado. I did well in the reserve game and got my chance to start,” Avila said. “It was great. It wasn’t an MLS start but to start against a big club team in the world, I felt good and excited to play.”

            His family will remain in town through Monday, meaning they will also possibly get to see him start on Sunday afternoon against Philadelphia at Pizza Hut Park.

            “This was my first start that my family ever saw live, which was great for them. I played against the starting team and that was motivation to play well, show my stuff and help out,” Avila said. “They were excited. My two brothers couldn’t believe I was playing against (Samuel) Eto’o, (Esteban) Cambiasso in the middle and Julio Cesar. In the tunnel, I was star struck but as soon as the game started, I was fine. They’re just happy to see me play.”

            Should Avila get the nod to start on Sunday, it will be his first time as a starter in league play since August 16, 2008 at Columbus. He has since been one of the first players off the bench, often as an “energy guy” whose role is to help energize the attack with his fresh legs, pace and good vision.

            However, the third-year midfielder found himself supplanted in that role a bit by Honduran international Marvin Chavez in late June and July. But now that he is back in the first 11, it’s not a place he wants to leave any time soon. His best competition to start at that linking midfield spot could be rookie Eric Alexander or Bruno Guarda with Dax McCarty having an outside shot but there are question marks with all three.

            Alexander played well in his first career start at Colorado last weekend but earlier in the week, Hyndman admitted he didn’t get enough on the offensive side from his young rookie. Guarda has played several games there this year and did fairly well while McCarty has been practicing but still looks to be less than 100 percent as he continues to work his way back from a strained right quadriceps muscle that kept him out of several games in July.

            So, that would leave Avila, who is clearly doing some good things on both offense and defense right now as a likely pick to start.

            “I felt comfortable with the first team. I haven’t been playing with them for a long time,” he said. “It was good to connect with David (Ferreira) and get myself comfortable there. Hopefully things turn out well and I do get the nod to come out and start. If I do, I’ll be ready. I feel good to go, know my role and everything.”

            And on Friday, as the entire team went through a recovery session after the Inter Milan game, he admits he didn’t know what to do when the starters split off from the reserves to do their own set of exercises designed to help speed up their recovery heading into the game with the Union.

            “I didn’t know what to do. I don’t know if I had my boots on or not,” Avila joked. “I don’t know if he (Hyndman) wanted me to train or not but I was prepared. It feels great. It was a good recovery. Now I’ll go back to the hot tub and cold tub to get ready for Sunday.”