Thursday night’s 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy at Pizza Hut Park was a night to forget for FC Dallas. Schellas Hyndman’s side played uninspired and was lifeless for most of the 90 minutes. It wasn’t just one player who failed to show up against the Galaxy, it was the entire squad.
However, the first XI against LA included one player who returned to the pitch for the first time in 15 days, left back Jair Benitez. The Colombian international had last played in a 1-0 win at Houston on May 5. In that victory, Benitez was sent off in the second half for an elbow to the face of Houston’s Luis Landin. Already scheduled to miss the May 8 contest with DC United because of that red card, Benitez also got an additional one-game suspension after the league saw his elbow to the back of Houston forward Dominic Oduro just minutes before his expulsion at Robertson Stadium.
Against LA, it was clear it had been some time since Benitez had played. His distribution and timing were off. And like his teammates, he continually turned the ball over to the opposition. It was a performance Hyndman definitely took notice of.
“Yes, I was [surprised by his rustiness],” Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Monday. “He was really out on sync. With all fairness to him, a lot of our players are out of sync. I think as the game went on, Jair picked it up.”
Benitez was asked to evaluate his performance after training on Tuesday and offered the following assessment of his latest showing. “I felt really good. The other players and coaches congratulated me for coming back the way I did,” the FCD defender said. “I was attacking and defending well. Obviously, the result wasn’t what we were hoping for but I think I did well in that game. I didn’t feel anything from the two weeks off. I played well.”
He also admitted the time away from the field did him some good because he realized what a big mistake he had made in delivering the elbow to Oduro’s back.
“I suffered a lot with just watching on TV. I was hoping to be there and help the team in those two games,” Benitez said. “I know I made a mistake. I have learned from that. I’m not going to make it again.”
On Thursday night, FCD renews their Brimstone Cup rivalry with Chicago at Toyota Park and Benitez figures to be in the first XI at left back. It will be his first time to ever face the Men in Red.
“It’s going to be a tough game. Chicago plays well at home and is a tough team to beat,” he said. “We have been working really hard. We’re hoping to come in and get three points.”