FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas are facing a Texas-sized task on Sunday against the Supporters’ Shield holders and red-hot New York Red Bulls, and suspensions and injury concerns aren’t making it any easier.
In addition to the two players who will miss the afternoon showdown (3 pm ET; UniMas) due to red-card suspensions, two more key players face health issues as the team began its preparations Wednesday with a video session and closed-door practice.
“You know how the game is – you’re counting on players and suddenly the game just takes them away from you because of injury, so the plan has to be changed,” FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja told reporters. “It is challenging because the trips in this country are long, so there is something demanding there.”
Kellyn Acosta, who has started most of Dallas’ games this season at right fullback, sustained an avulsion fracture of his left knee in last Friday’s practice session and will miss a minimum of six weeks, said Pareja. With Zach Loyd suspended due to the red card he received in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to D.C. United, that leaves FCD without an experienced right fullback on the roster for Sunday.
The bigger challenge might be the status of midfielder Mauro Diaz, who left the D.C. game in the first half after a hard challenge. Pareja said that Díaz, the Etihad Airways MLS Player of the Month for March, is day-to-day while awaiting the results of an MRI on his knee.
With midfielder Michel receiving the other red card in the D.C. match, it could leave FC Dallas without two players who have accounted for 88 percent of the team’s goals this season.
As if all that was not enough, the schedule after Sunday does not get any easier as FCD travel for a midweek match in Seattle, followed by a third game in seven days against the San Jose Earthquakes on May 10.
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On top of that, FCD are coming off their worst loss of the year.
Pareja said the team would be aggressive about addressing the challenges presented by the result against D.C. and the upcoming schedule, including squad rotation and other options.
“We want to evaluate every situation with a specific game, with traveling, with injury, with the formation and all those things, get together and see what we can come up with,” Pareja said.