FRISCO, Texas — Schellas Hyndman has praised the depth of his FC Dallas team throughout the early stages of the 2013 campaign and his attack, already one of the highest-scoring in the league, is about to add another piece.
Honduran international midfielder Ramón Núñez, officially signed on March 21, has been with the club since early preseason as he recovers from an ACL tear suffered with Leeds United in early September and the Dallas native’s return to the pitch is coming closer with every passing day.
“We’re looking at him getting back in training with the team next week,” Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “In that training, we won’t have him in any combative [situations], aggressive 1-v-1 type of things probably for another week to 10 days just progressing and seeing how he’s doing. ... Our date that we’re looking at is really June 1 for him to be competing in this environment.”
It’s been 10 years since Núñez last played for Hyndman, a 2003 freshman season at SMU that he parlayed into a first-round draft selection, and for a player coming off a major injury, the familiarity with his new coach is priceless for the Honduran.
“He has a good understanding of what I’m about as a player,” Núñez told MLSsoccer.com. “I know what he expects out of me so that’s always good coming into a team.”
If he can return from his injury at something near his former level, Hyndman expects a lot out of the 27-year-old.
“I think Ramón has every ability to find himself in the top XI. I think he’s that kind of a player,” said Hyndman. “The fact is that he’s a left-sided player, a right-sided player and an attacking midfield player, so he has three positions on the field that he can play on.”
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In his first stint with the franchise, Núñez scored 14 goals and dished out nine assists in 67 appearances, but was still a young and inconsistent player who had flashes of absolute brilliance suggesting that he could become one of the better attackers in the league. It’s been a long and winding road that’s seen Núñez return to FCD six years after departing the club, and he says it’s made him a better overall player.
“My style hasn’t changed, but I have learned from every team that I’ve been at,” he said. “In England, you have to work. If you’re a forward, you have to work at recovering the ball and maybe that’s something that I didn’t do quite as well when I was starting out. In ‘04 and ’05, those were things that maybe weren’t put into my game and I can say that I’m better at that now and willing to work more.”