FRISCO, Texas – There are few MLS teams that have struggled with injury more than FC Dallas.
The loss of stars and role players alike has forced new FCD head coach Oscar Pareja to test his team’s depth and get creative with his lineups. And in doing so, they’ve managed to stay in playoff contention.
Veteran fullback Zach Loyd, who overcame injuries late in 2013 to find a way to contribute to Dallas’ best run defensively this season, exemplifies that resilience.
With their 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution on Saturday, Dallas have now given up just five goals in their last six matches across all competitions – and only one in three MLS games.
“It always feels good to get the shutout when you are a defender,” Loyd said after the match. “Overall, it was a great result for us, especially the back four and the goalkeeper. There’s a little bit of a pride thing. Hopefully we can build off of this going into the second half of the season.”
A first-round selection in the 2010 SuperDraft and a big part of FCD’s MLS Cup finalist team that year – which earned him a call-up to the USMNT’s subsequent January camp – Loyd had been the team’s right back for much of his career. But a late-season injury in 2013 impacted the start of 2014.
He was forced back into the lineup perhaps sooner than he expected when fellow defender Kellyn Acosta went down with an injury of his own. But Loyd found a way to get back to his best.
“Tonight was Zach Loyd at his best,” Pareja said after the New England game. “That's the player that I wanted last year to go to the club that I was coaching and at the beginning of this year, it took him a little while to get back to his old self. The Zach Loyd we saw today was the Zach Loyd that was called to the national team.”
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Loyd was glad to be able to get back to his old self.
“It’s just the product of getting games under my belt and building. Like I said, the break was really good for us. We had a really tough two months there – game after game after game. Finally, I’m getting closer to being fully healthy. “
“Overall, just continuing to play and stay healthy has been huge for me. Last season, I was playing through a couple injuries. It’s finally nice to go into a game feeling healthy.”