When FC Dallas faces Chivas USA on Saturday night at The Home Depot Center, Eric Avila figures to have a sizeable cheering section at the Carson, California facility. The FCD midfielder grew up just an hour south of LA in San Diego and also played collegiately at UC-Santa Barbara.
He has no idea exactly how big his section will be on Saturday but one thing is for sure, he definitely wants to see some time at the HDC for the first time in his career.
Since being drafted early in the second round of the 2008 MLS Super Draft, he has yet to play against the Red-and-White. Avila has two career appearances against the HDC’s other tenant, the LA Galaxy, but both of those games have been at Pizza Hut Park.
So far in 2010, the third-year midfielder has appeared in nine of FCD’s 11 games and has scored once, a game-tying goal against Columbus on April 10 that allowed his club to salvage a 2-2 draw in Frisco.
In FCD’s last match against San Jose on June 5, he played the entire second half, his longest stint of the year. Avila is clearly hungry for more.
“I feel like when I came in (so far this year), I did fairly well. Every time I come in, I’m trying to do something. I want go in there and do my part,” he said. “I feel like I’ve done my part to help the team out. I would like to continue getting more time and all that. I got a half against San Jose and hopefully I get more.”
However, he admits it would be really special to finally get some minutes at the HDC this weekend, especially considering how many friends and family figure to be in attendance.
“All my friends, they’re all out of school, so everyone is going to come out. I’m going to have a big crew,” Avila said. “My dad, my whole family and a bunch of my coaches are coming up for the game. I guess San Diego has a small soccer circle where they know when someone is coming down, so it’s nice when I come down to see my friends and all that, especially from Santa Barbara and San Diego.”
But the magnitude of finally getting to hit the field in Carson isn’t lost on the affable FCD midfielder.
“I like to score. I like to play,” Avila said. “I haven’t played at the Home Depot (Center) yet. To play in front of my dad and mom (would be big). They usually don’t have live games where they can come and see me. Just playing in front of them means a lot.”
FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman likes what he has seen thus far from Avila but would also like to see him improve in several areas.
“He’s had some spots here and there and has done well. He’s scored some very important goals for us,” Hyndman said. “He has all the qualities of being a good player in MLS. The area that I’ve really encouraged him to improve in is his defending. I think he’s really embraced that and done a good job with that.”
However, as is usually the case with any young player, there are still issues with Avila’s consistency. Hyndman says he would like to see Avila follow in the footsteps of his close friend Brek Shea, who is having a breakout season.
“Sometimes he is a streaky player and that’s a dangerous thing to call a player, streaky,” Hyndman said. “Brek Shea was in a similar situation. What has happened with Brek? His streakiness is going away. He’s getting more functional, more productive and he’s getting a little more consistent. With that consistency, he’s getting more playing time. With that playing time, he’s getting more self confidence. It’s hard to give Avi that self confidence so we’re trying to take little pieces.”