PANAMA CITY, Panama – Since beginning their CONCACAF Champions League adventure nearly two months ago, FC Dallas have endured flight problems in both El Salvador and Mexico City, delaying their return home for league games.
So pardon them for flying charter with nearly 50 supporters and front office administration direct to Panama City in advance of Wednesday’s pivotal Group C match against Tauro FC at Estadio Rommel Fernández (8 pm ET, FOX Soccer).
But not all of the Dallas regulars made the relaxing, four-hour trip south for the fifth game of six in group play.
Left in Dallas were Jackson, Daniel Hernandez and Brek Shea due to card suspensions. Midfielder Ricardo Villar also remained in Texas to get a bit of a breather following a long accumulation of minutes played. In their absence, head coach Schellas Hyndman is hoping two 2011 acquisitions perform well on Wednesday night.
“The player that needs to step up tomorrow is [Maykel] Galindo,” stated Hyndman. “He’s been with us all year, from one injury to another, and we need for him to get up and do the type of things that we think he is capable of doing. And then I think Bobby Warshaw needs to step up. It’s one thing to have a permanent fixture of Daniel there, but now it’s like, ‘No Daniel, Bobby, this is what we drafted you for.’”
For Warshaw, the opportunity to start in the CONCACAF Champions League is exciting.
“I’m going to go out and give my best and the guys around me are going to give their best,” said the 22-year-old. “Our expectations are to win and I think, as a team, as FC Dallas, it doesn’t matter who we put on the field. I’m looking forward to it and I’m excited that they believe I can do it.”
FC Dallas previously played Tauro FC to a 1-1 draw two weeks ago at Pizza Hut Park, learning a lot about the Panamanian side in the process. Their speed on the flanks, constant pressuring of the ball and tricky passes through the backline unsettled the usually staunch FCD defense.
But on Tauro’s turf, Warshaw & Co. have a better idea of what to expect from the already-eliminated Panamanian side.
“I think just matching their energy,” added Warshaw. “When you watch the film, they’re flying around everywhere. They’re high-pressing, they’re all over, they’re getting the tackle, and they’re just bringing a lot of energy.”
And if FC Dallas can manage – and match – the athleticism of their opponent, the traveling contingency will have something to cheer about on the uninterrupted flight home.
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com.