Dallas face selection crisis for second leg vs. RSL

Rodriguez injury, Harris red-carded in FCD's 2-1 win in opener

Jeff Cunningham vs. RSL

Photo Credit: 
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

FRISCO, Texas – It’s tough enough to face the defending MLS cup champions in the postseason, but FC Dallas has to do it while juggling a full-blown injury crisis, which will spill over into the second leg at Rio Tinto Stadium next Saturday (9 p.m. CT, FSC).

FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com that US national team right back Heath Pearce will likely not be available for that match.

“Heath probably won’t be back,” Hyndman said. “He had a bad hamstring pull last Monday on our recovery day.”

Rookie Zach Loyd started at right back on Saturday evening in a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake at Pizza Hut Park. He eventually switched positions with starting central defender Jackson Gonçalves, who filled in for the injured George John (left hamstring strain).

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“We hope that we can get George back,” Hyndman said of his regular central defender.

The injury concerns continued to mount after the first leg victory, with forward Milton Rodriguez forced to leave the match with an adductor strain in the 32nd minute. Jeff Cunningham replaced him and scored on a solo run just 12 minutes after coming into the match.

“It was a play where I was running at full speed, I beat [Jamison] Olave on a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge, I controlled the ball and when I was about to go after the ball again, I felt a pull of the adductor,” Rodriguez told MLSsoccer.com after the game.

READ: FCD expect a "dogfight" in return leg at Rio Tinto

“As a player who has been around for many years, I knew what type of injury it could be and right away I looked toward the bench to ask for the sub.”

Hyndman indicated that he hopes the Colombian center forward can still be available for the trip to Salt Lake City.

The depth of the FC Dallas roster will further be tested by the one-game suspension of Atiba Harris for a high elbow against Real Salt Lake’s Will Johnson.

“Atiba is a warrior and he fights on both sides of the ball,” Hyndman said. “That was an unfortunate mistake. But the result is what it is. Atiba will miss the next game and so will [RSL’s Javier] Morales. It’s going to be a heck of a game in Salt Lake.”

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