FRISCO, Texas — With about 10 minutes left in Saturday’s game at Kansas City, FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman knew he had to get left back Jair Benitez off the field for fresher legs. He called upon rookie defender Edson Edward to make his MLS debut.
Edward was up to the challenge. He went in to play defensive midfield while Brazilian Jackson Gonçalves moved to right back. Heath Pearce, FCD’s starting right back, moved to left back to replace Benitez.
“I thought [Edward] did well,” Hyndman said. “That was his first opportunity to play. He’s got the confidence of the coach to not only take him on the trip but to put him in.”
Edward came to Dallas as an undrafted free agent out of NAIA school Graceland University, which has a campus in the Kansas City area. On Monday, Edward was still riding the wave from making his league debut just two days earlier.
“It was a nice little homecoming because I played in Kansas City before,” he said. “I had a lot of friends there watching. It was a great experience. I haven’t been training at center mid this year. Coach wanted me to go in, help out defensively and play simple. I had a great time and I enjoyed it.”
If Edward looked to be a seamless fit in his debut, it was because backing up Edward in central defense were Kyle Davies and Zach Loyd.
“They did a great job of instructing me and moving me around to block up alleys and to prevent penetration in the box,” he said. “They’re two great players and they communicate well. They made my job easier.”
Davies returned the compliment and applauded the rookie’s performance.
“I thought he did well,” the second-year defender said. “It was good for him. It was a home crowd. He’s got friends and family up there, so I’m sure he was real excited to get in. We were all happy for him.”
Edward’s performance was all the more impressive because he played as a midfielder, a position with which he is less familiar.
“Last time I played defensive center mid was maybe my sophomore or junior year in college,” he said. “It was a little adjustment, but it’s something you don’t forget. You always remember as you go on.”
While the native of Ottawa insists he had no idea he might make his league debut against KC, some members of his cheering section were optimistic.
“A lot of my friends said they had a feeling it was going to happen this game,” Edward said. “Me, I had no idea. I was just warming up and coach [John] Ellinger called my name. I was happy to get the shout. I probably had 12 to 14 people there. It was nice for them to be there for my debut.”