In Saturday’s season-opening 1-1 draw with Houston at Pizza Hut Park, FC Dallas’ depth was already put to the test.
Rookie Eric Alexander picked up the slack without regular starter Ugo Ihemelu (hamstring) and after replacement Kyle Davies suffered a broken arm just minutes into the second half.
Even though the newcomer’s debut was somewhat unexpected, FCD coach Schellas Hyndman was still pleased with how well his 2010 third-round draft pick performed against the Dynamo.
“I think he was a little surprised that we’d put him in, but we really liked him in preseason. We like his ball skills, his vision, his simplicity,” Hyndman said. “He needs to be a little bit more experienced and a bit harder because that role is pretty physical. I think Eric had maybe one minute of warm-up, so he didn’t have a lot of time to get nervous, but we got him on the field.”
On Tuesday after training, the FCD coach admitted bringing on a rookie against the physical Dynamo was definitely a roll of the dice.
“It was a risky move,” Hyndman said. “You’ve got a home game. It’s 1-1 and you’re playing a team that when they smell blood, they go after it. We were definitely vulnerable there for a little bit.”
For Alexander, entering the game just 10 minutes into the second half was something totally unexpected.
“I had played in most of the games leading up to it, but then again those were preseason games and the coaches are trying to get the players who hadn’t played much some minutes,” he said. “I actually got a lot more time than I thought I would have. It was a great experience for me.”
The former Indiana Hoosiers star remembers getting the call to warm up early in the second half along with the rest of the FCD bench on Saturday and then, he got the call.
“It was kind of just a little unexpected, especially at the time, the coaches had just told us to go start warming up. Then they said one of us was going in right then,” Alexander said.
Alexander admitted that the season opener had a different feel than when FCD suited up against the Dynamo during preseason in Orlando, Fla.
“Obviously, playing before the fans and being on the stadium field, it had a whole different feel than playing a preseason game where not too many people were watching,” Alexander said.
No matter if he’s on the field or not, Alexander is keeping his goals simple.
“I feel like every day, I’m getting better. I’ve still got to get to that level,” he said. “I’m not at the level where I need to be. I’m just out here working hard. Hopefully I’m making improvements and hopefully it continues throughout the season.”