FRISCO, Texas – The biggest splash of the offseason for FC Dallas was acquiring two of the league’s marquee forwards in Eric Hassli and Kenny Cooper, but Saturday’s paring up top in Schellas Hyndman’s new 4-4-2 formation could be a little bit of a curveball.
With Hassli not yet 90 minutes fit and Blas Pérez suspended for an incident in the final game of last season, Cooper and Fabián Castillo (above) are expected to pair together on Saturday night against Colorado (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
The only time the two have paired together in a game so far this preseason was last weekend’s finale in Portland against San Jose, but Castillo seemed to be on the same wavelength with Cooper throughout a productive first half.
“That was a really pleasant surprise,” Hyndman said of the forward pairing. “Fabián has continued to improve. … The thing I didn’t expect was how well he worked on both sides of the ball, something we’ve kept talking to him about. I thought he caused a lot of problems for San Jose just because of his pure speed and I think that’s going to cause problems for teams throughout the year.”
While Cooper’s partnership with Pérez seemed to very much be a work in progress, the chemistry with Castillo was evident, bringing back memories of Cooper’s former partnership in Dallas with Jeff Cunningham. If past games against Colorado are any indication, Saturday could be a huge evening for the 20-year-old Colombian. Castillo has hit the Rapids and former coach Oscar Pareja for a goal and an assist in each of his last two games against Colorado.
“[Castillo]’s a great player, his quality is obvious,” Cooper told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “He may be the fastest player I’ve seen in this league. I’ve been really impressed with him – he’s not just fast, he’s very good on the ball.”