FRISCO, Texas – If there’s one word Blas Pérez could use to describe the last two weeks, it would be “suffering.”
The Panamanian’s preseason has been two weeks longer than the rest of his teammates as he was forced to the sidelines by a suspension sent down from the league's Dsciplinary Committee for an elbow thrown in the final game of the 2012 regular season against Chivas USA.
While suspended, Pérez has had to spend much of his time playing against the starters in training, but with his ban finally lifted, the No. 9 is back with the first team and set to make his 2013 debut on Sunday against Houston (1 pm ET, ESPN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
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“I was suffering a lot,” Pérez told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “Watching [last week's] Chivas game on television was just suffering for me as a player knowing I can help the team. Those are decisions of the league, though, and you can’t fight that.”
Pérez has certainly been missed by FCD through the first two games, as their only goals have come on a goalkeeping gaffe and a moment of individual brilliance from David Ferreira.
His likely strike partner on Sunday, Kenny Cooper, knows exactly how important it is for Dallas to have Pérez, who scored four goals in his last four games of 2012, back in the starting XI.
“Obviously having Blas back is a huge lift,” said Cooper. “He’s scored a lot of goals in not a lot of games. He’s a fantastic forward with great movement and great work ethic. It makes us better having him back.”
The return of Pérez to the lineup could mark the first time Cooper and the Panamanian line up together in the 4-4-2 formation. The partnership wasn’t terribly effective in limited preseason minutes together and it’s something their coach says is a work in progress.
“I think it’s still got a ways to go,” FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman said about the forward partnership. “They’re not on the same page and we’re working on that to make it better.”
As if Pérez, who turned 32 on Wednesday, needed any added motivation, his return to the starting lineup comes against FCD's archrivals. The Panamanian was forced to miss last year’s loss to Houston due to an injury suffered on international duty, so Sunday’s match will be his first taste of the rivalry.
“It’s the Texas Derby, no?” Pérez said in English with a smile before transitioning back to Spanish. “I was unfortunately hurt during the match in Houston last year and I’m just excited to make the comeback on Sunday. I know all the fans are excited to see me play again and I’m extremely happy to be back. I’m very positive we’re going to come out with the win.”