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Shorthanded FC Dallas embracing challenge at San Jose Earthquakes

Coaches often talk about needing depth in numbers. For FC Dallas, that truism will be tested to the brink – especially in midfield – when visiting the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday afternoon (3:30 pm ET | Univision, Twitter, MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada).

Paxton Pomykal, Edwin Cerrillo and Brandon Servania remain away with the US U-20 national team, with a World Cup quarterfinal Saturday against Ecuador. Also on international duty are Bryan Acosta (Honduras), Carlos Gruezo (Ecuador) and Pablo Aranguiz (Chile U-23). Colombian winger Santiago Mosquera (knee) is out, and goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez (ankle) is now listed as questionable on the club’s injury report.

It’d be easy for FC Dallas to sit back and commiserate, but head coach Luchi Gonzalez won’t stand for that. 

“We want them to do well and have experiences that improve their form so that when they come back here they can take the next steps with us,” Gonzalez said of those on international duty. “It’s not easy, but at the same time all the teams in MLS are dealing with something similar, whether it’s through injury or national call-ups. It’s part of this process and we have guys step up. The guys in training are working hard, competing to earn opportunities to play against San Jose. That’s what we want to see.”

In dealing with those blows, it bodes well that Dallas recently broke a six-game winless streak. The launching pad was a 2-1 home win over the Seattle Sounders last Saturday, though both strikes came on Seattle own goals.

Much like his coach, midfielder Jacori Hayes anticipates players making the most of their oft-scant opportunities.

“We’ve been missing guys throughout the season, so it’s nothing new for us,” Hayes said. “Other guys are going to have to step up and we’ll have to make some adjustments. I’m confident that everyone in that locker room could come in and play and lead to three points for us.”

This won’t just be another game, though. Dallas drew, 0-0, with San Jose back on April 27, just as head coach Matias Almeyda’s team was starting to turn a corner. They’re now 4-1-3 across their last eight matches and a win would vault the Earthquakes into Western Conference playoff position.

Naturally, some lessons were ascertained from that game.

“They had some struggles early, but by the time they were playing us here at home they were adapting to their system with the man-marking all over the field,” Gonzalez said. “That poses challenges for us. We weren’t very happy with the overall game. The point was valuable, but we’re ready to learn from it and have another opportunity against them at their place.”

Solving San Jose’s man-marking system is fresh on FCD’s mind, as well as mid-season table implications.

“It’s going to be a quality side and it’s going to be a tough match, especially on the road,” Hayes said. “We’re going to have to bring our 'A' game and play 100 percent and fight and scrap if we’re going to get the three points.