FC Dallas' Mauro Diaz
Courtesy of FC Dallas

FC Dallas get first look at Mauro Diaz in Stoke City friendly: "He's the player we're all anticipating"

FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas fans got their first look at Mauro Díaz during Saturday evening’s friendly with Stoke City at FC Dallas Stadium. And based on his brief shift, they’re going to like this kid.

The 22-year-old Argentine, who was signed earlier this month, came on in the 31st minute of the first half and was subbed off just before the 60-minute mark in the second in an eventual 1-0 loss to the English Premier League side.

“What I wanted to do was play him along with David [Ferreira] and more of the regular starters,” FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman explained reporters after the match. “That way, we could have a chance to see more of his playmaking, his vision ... I think he’s the player we were all anticipating.”

Hyndman was particularly impressed with the way Díaz closed down on Stoke City players when they had the ball, which forced a few turnovers.

Díaz had his first training session with the team on Thursday, so he’s had limited time to get to know his teammates and learn FC Dallas’ style of play. But he regularly made himself an outlet on the left side of midfield for fullback Jair Benítez and seemed to quickly form a partnership with FCD’s more creative players.

“I feel that I had a good connection with Ferreira and other players up front,” the former River Plate youth product told reporters through an interpreter. “There’s an understanding that will improve in practice.”

Team officials originally expected Díaz to be with the team in early July, but because of delays in finalizing the paperwork he was unable to join the club until this past week. He continued to train on his own, however, and feels he needs just a few more days to be acclimated to Dallas’ intense summer heat and humidity before he considers himself at full fitness.

Center back Stephen Keel, who was a late addition to the starting lineup for Matt Hedges, was impressed with what he saw from his vantage point at the back.

“He looked good,” Keel told reporters. “I’m excited ... [he’s] smooth on the ball, he passes well, he sees the game. With David in there, it’s an extremely creative force.”