FRISCO, Texas – Which is more important, club or country? The answer to that question, at least this week for FC Dallas and Panamanian striker Blas Pérez, is club.
Pérez will miss Panama’s opening Gold Cup match against tournament favorites Mexico on Sunday evening at the Rose Bowl to play in FCD’s clash that same night across town against the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center (10:30 pm ET; MLS Live).
“That’s something that was already agreed to by FC Dallas and the Federation of Panama … because of all the call-ups I get for the national team,” Pérez explained to MLSsoccer.com through an interpreter after Wednesday’s practice. “That makes it even better for me to be able to play two games in July [with FC Dallas] before going and joining the Panama national team for the Gold Cup.”
Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo said he began negotiating with the federations that were likely to call up FCD players long ago and that the Panamanian Federation in particular were very agreeable to an arrangement that would allow each side to have Pérez’s services when they needed them most. Panama were focused on having the big striker in training for World Cup qualifying and Dallas released him earlier in April than they were required to do so by FIFA regulations.
“They understood that [players] need to perform with the [club],” Clavijo told MLSsoccer.com at halftime of Thursday night’s match against Chivas USA. “We also understood that they needed to prepare for Word Cup qualifying, which is more important than the Gold Cup. It was a deal that we did three months ago and it’s working out pretty good right now.”
Clavijo went on to add that from FC Dallas’ point of view, this particular stretch with two matches in four days was a key one to have Pérez available for coach Schellas Hyndman to select. Panama could have called Pérez in for the Mexico match per FIFA regulations, but they honored the club’s request that he be with FC Dallas on Sunday evening in LA.
“I specifically targeted these two games together, on the 4th and the 7th as it was very good for us,” Clavijo explained. “[Panama] plays Mexico on the seventh, too, and they will be in Los Angeles, so [Blas] can go from one hotel to the other. It works exactly perfect ... logistically it made a lot of sense for us and them, too.”