Jason Minnick

Rodríguez eager to shoulder FCD's scoring load

There’s been plenty of talk this past offseason about FC Dallas’ need to sign another striker. But nobody seems to be telling Milton Rodriguez.

The Colombian has scored three goals in preseason scrimmages so far, including a brace against Houston Baptist and another tally against SMU. He’ll look to add to that total on Thursday night against Orlando City in the Disney Classic as he prepares for his first full season with FCD.

Coach Schellas Hyndman certainly believes in the 34-year-old striker, predicting recently that Rodríguez will tally between 10 to 12 goals during the 2011 season – a projection with which the player himself agrees.

“This season is going to be much better [than last year] and I am going to score goals,” he said. “Take it step by step and I am going to score goals.”

The 2010 season was a mixed bag for Rodríguez, who tallied five goals in 13 matches after FCD added him last May. Then came a right groin injury against Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semifinals, cutting short his postseason and forcing him to watch MLS Cup from the sidelines.

[inline_node:316747]Rodríguez believes this year’s campaign will be much smoother. Through the first four weeks of training, he has displayed a quiet confidence and demeanor that settles well with the coaching staff and Hyndman’s prediction.

“I know how to score goals,” said Rodríguez. “My entire career I have scored goals in every place I have been.”

Rodríguez has scored 137 total goals during his 13-year career, which includes swings across Colombia with clubs Deportivo Cali, Real Cartagena and Millionarios. In fact, that total is four more than the all-time MLS mark of Jamie Moreno. Rodríguez is well aware of what’s expected of him, especially if FCD are to return to MLS Cup.

“The team has to score goals,” said Rodríguez. “It’s expected and I have to put myself in good physical health and score goals like the attack needs.”

Aside from his knack to find the back of the net, Rodríguez brings additional Latin flair to a side that regularly boasts five Central and South American players in the starting XI.

Rodríguez credits his level of comfort with the team to great friendships with players such as Jair Benitez, Marvin Chavez and David Ferreira.

“We try to be together outside of soccer,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll get together on a free Sunday at someone’s house with our wives and kids and make a barbecue.”

FCD assistant coach Marco Ferruzzi says that's an important element to FCD's chemistry. While they aren’t quite exclusive, Benítez, Ferreira, Chávez and Rodríguez are always playing games before and after training sessions and their good humor and easygoing ways brings levity to the locker room.

“Obviously, in terms of Milton with his experience, and Jair and David coming from Colombia, they have known each other and have played with each other and they bring an immediate understanding,” Ferruzzi said.

In 2011, Rodríguez will hope that chemistry pays off, and that his compatriots will help him prove Hyndman right and eliminate that “need for a striker” banter.