FRISCO, Texas — After missing FC Dallas’ previous two games due to a lingering knee issue, Daniel Hernandez will be ready for Saturday’s showdown against D.C. United (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“Right now I feel good and good to go,” said Hernandez after participating in Friday’s hour-long training session on the Pizza Hut Park field. “I’m available, so it will be what coach [Schellas Hyndman] decides to do.”
With Andrew Jacobson questionable for the match after suffering a hamstring injury in a 2-0 loss at Real Salt Lake last weekend, Hernandez’s return becomes all the more vital for FCD’s midfield line.
The veteran, who communicates with his teammates in both English and Spanish and has an understanding of the game that comes only with experience, will provide a calming presence at defensive mid, something FCD will definitely need as they take on a new-look DC team.
In FC Dallas’ first match of 2011 against D.C. United, the Western Conference side needed some late-game heroics from goalkeeper Kevin Hartman on a point-blank shot from Fred to leave RFK Stadium with a draw.
But DC are a different and more dangerous team now with their recent addition of attacking midfielder Dwayne De Rosario.
“I think he was their missing piece,” said Hyndman. “[He’s] somebody that can really penetrate through the center and open up the opportunities for the flanks.”
DC are unbeaten in their past four games and are coming off a 1-0 win away win against the New York Red Bulls, a match in which De Rosario scored the game-winner against his former team.
“I think DC are playing their best soccer right now,” said Hyndman. “They are starting to play with a lot of confidence and they got through that injury phase. They have a very good strike force. Josh Wolff, [Charlie] Davies up front, then you got [Chris] Pontius, [Andy] Najar — they’ve got a very good strike force and now they add De Rosario.”
On Saturday, the onus of stopping De Rosario & Co. will likely fall on Hernandez, who sits in front of the FCD defense and patrols the field. While DC, who currenly sit in sixth place in the East, have numbers that don’t exactly jump out, Hernandez and his teammates aren’t fooled.
“It’s one of those teams that they are better than what their record is and they have a really good team,” said Hernandez. “It’s just going to be a really tough test for us because they are coming in with a little confidence and obviously playing better.”
If FC Dallas can control DC, the team will have the necessary momentum heading into their away matches at Toronto, New York and a big tilt against Salvadoran side Alianza FC in CONCACAF Champions League play.
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @FCDallasBeatGuy