Benitez/Pearce work well on left side

FCD coach pleased with lineup shuffle

benitez-pearce

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Mike Stobe/Getty Images

 

When the starting lineups for last week’s match between Columbus and FC Dallas were released, there were a few changes from FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman.

The most notable was regular left back Jair Benítez switching to left midfield, with right back Heath Pearce shifting to the opposite side to take Benítez’s place.

Benítez had played left-mid during his pre-FCD days in his native Colombia while Pearce had also logged time at left back, but neither had played there much at all during their several months in MLS.

And for the most part, the moves worked. The FCD duo played well off each other for much of the evening and drew solid reviews from Hyndman after the club’s 2-2 draw, meaning that a similar set up is likely in store when FCD face the New York Red Bulls on Saturday at Red Bull Arena.

“I think it’s really a pretty neat combination, because you have two players that are left fullbacks and then you’ve got two players that are left midfielders,” Hyndman said. "I thought they played both positions really quite well. I thought that they created a lot of problems for Columbus.”

Both players admit they liked the new look.

“I felt very comfortable and very good,” Benítez said Wednesday. “I have played in the midfield before. I know Heath pretty well by now and his style of play. I felt really comfortable playing on that side with him.”

For his part, Pearce agreed with the move.

“I think Jair and I both have an understanding of both positions, which is an advantage," Pearce said. "It makes the runs forward less risky because you know you’ve got a guy who will stay if you go. We make sure we cover our defensive responsibilities first.”