FRISCO, Texas – Don’t look now, but Blas Pérez is not alone as the highest scoring forward on the FC Dallas roster. Reigning MLS Rookie of the Year Tesho Akindele isn’t the only one up there with him, either.
Uruguayan David Texeira has joined them atop the scoring list for Dallas, as all three have now scored five goals this season after Texeira’s two-goal performance in a 4-1 win over the Houston Dynamo on Sunday.
“Texeira didn’t stop working when I didn’t call his name to the lineup last week, but he had a terrific week of training and made us think this was his game,” said head coach Oscar Pareja. “And he proved us right.”
The 24-year-old has had an up-and-down tenure since signing with Dallas in February 2014. He only started nine games during his first campaign, scoring four goals and failing to record an assist.
Texeira has already passed all of those marks with four games left in the 2015 regular season. He has started 15 games, scored five times, assisted on three others and has played 266 more minutes.
He’s also up for MLS Goal of the Week this week after his game-winning strike, which he called one of the best goals he’s scored as a professional.
“I can’t believe I scored that goal,” Texeira said. “As a striker, you always try to create chances to shoot from outside the goal. And that was me.”
The competition to start at forward in Dallas has played a part in Texeira’s inconsistency. With Pérez leading the team in scoring for three years and second-year pro Akindele stealing the spotlight in 2014, Texeira's minutes have been few and far between.
But with the 34-year-old Pérez beginning to show his age while enduring additional games and travel in the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer, and with Akindele missing games to play internationally for Canada, Texeira has taken advantage of his chance to shine. Since starting only four of the team’s first 16 games, he has since started 11 of the last 14, scoring four of his five goals in that span.
“The sport of soccer is about opportunities and taking full advantage of them,” midfielder Victor Ulloa told MLSSoccer.com. “I think [Sunday] was a great moment for him with those two goals to help us clinch the playoffs.”
There’s no telling if the opportunities will continue to present themselves for Texeira, given Pareja’s tendency to tinker with the starting lineup on a weekly basis. FC Dallas are losing Fabián Castillo to international call-up this week, but Pérez and Akindele will be available in Wednesday's road match against the Vancouver Whitecaps (10 pm ET; TSN in Canada, MLS LIVE in US).
Texeira isn’t one to shy away from the competition, however, especially considering he beat out both forwards for minutes against Houston while all three were available.
“I think it’s a healthy competition between us,” Texeira said. “We always support the one who is playing. Whoever is playing in front, we always support them. I don’t want to call out anybody, but I think it’s a healthy competition. Whoever plays in front is going to do the best for the team, and that’s what matters.”
Texeira has shown up when it counts since arriving in Dallas. Not only did his two goals clinch a playoff spot for Dallas last weekend, but he also scored the equalizer in a 2-1 win against the LA Galaxy last October that also clinched a playoff berth.
No matter how Pareja draws up his lineup over the final four games that will prove crucial to the team’s playoff seeding, having all three players available and interchangeable helps him sleep at night.
“Texeira, Tesho and Blas, they understand the position they are in with the team and what they bring to the table,” Pareja said. “I’m a happy coach having the versatility there and the flexibility to go with one idea over another. … Blas and Tesho and the rest of the forwards are making us think that we are a very complete team.”