Pearce, Rodríguez hold out hope of making roster
TORONTO – FC Dallas’ Heath Pearce and Milton Rodríguez are still possibilities for Sunday’s MLS Cup final despite injuries that have kept them out of the lineup for the past three weeks.
Both players underwent fitness and agility tests at Friday’s training session at BMO Field and are optimistic they could be included in head coach Schellas Hyndman’s 18-man game day roster for the title match against Colorado (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Galavisión, TSN2).
“It’s day to day,” Hyndman said Thursday night. “Both Heath and Milton Rodríguez will be going through tests to see if one, they can be in the top 18 and two, where would they be as far as being in the top 11.”
Defender Pearce is still recovering from a right hamstring strain and has yet to appear in the MLS Cup Playoffs for FCD. Striker Rodríguez is nursing a right groin strain, also suffered last month, and hasn’t played since Dallas’ victory over Real Salt Lake in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals.
For his part, Pearce says he feels fit and ready to play, though he’s not sure he could go a full 90 minutes if called upon. Zach Loyd and Jackson Gonçalves have been filling in at Pearce’s right back position since the 26-year-old has been out.
“Obviously I haven't been training, and there are guys who have been putting in the work in the last week, so I can't expect to be on the field or expect to be on the bench,” Pearce said after Friday’s training session. “But I'm working my hardest to make it a difficult decision for the coach. … I feel like I did well in the fitness testing, and now it's out of my hands."
Rodríguez also feels he performed reasonably well in Friday’s tests and holds out hope he’ll make the final roster vs. Colorado, though he’s cautious of making the injury worse. Jeff Cunningham filled in for Rodríguez for both legs against RSL,
and Atiba Harris started up top in last weekend's Western Conference
“I feel good,” the Colombian said. “When you return from injury there’s always the risk of reinjuring it. All injuries, you enter the field and, as the minutes pass, you realize the truth of how you are – I feel good and have much desire to be able to be in this final.”
A final decision is expected on Saturday as to whether either will play a role in the match.