FRISCO, Texas — For FC Dallas, Thursday's matchup against New York is a big game in many ways.
For one, it's like a grudge match. Plus, there are playoff implications. But there's also the visit of a pair of world-class players to look forward to — and even a high-flying team such as Dallas can, at times, be in awe.
The Red Bulls will visit Pizza Hut Park with World Cup veterans Thierry Henry and Rafa Márquez in tow, and that has FCD all fired up.
“The last time I saw Henry play might have been at the Euros in Portugal when he scored twice [in a 3-1 defeat of Switzerland in 2004],” FCD manager Schellas Hyndman said. “He’s obviously an exceptional player. He adds to their team. It’s not just the quality that he brings — it just means another good player is on the bench."
Just more than a month ago, Hyndman’s club hosted reigning European champions Inter Milan and played them to a 2-2 draw. His players were excited about that, and there's a similar buzz in practice this week.
“You have the opportunity to play against players in your career that have done some really great things," goalkeeper Kevin Hartman said. “[Henry's] obviously one of those guys. When the ball is at his feet, you can expect anything.
"You’ve got to make sure you’re cognizant of what he brings to the table and make sure you’re prepared for it.”
But it’s not just the FCD veterans that are excited. The team’s younger players are also looking forward to the match.
However, third-year midfielder Brek Shea admits he won’t be too caught up in who’s on the field for New York, since he and his teammates are seeking the same goal as the Red Bulls: a berth in the postseason.
Plus, the Red Bulls handed Dallas a rare defeat this season — one of only two in 2010 — when they edged past FCD 2-1 in April at Red Bull Arena.
“It’s going to be pretty exciting, but we can’t let that affect us," Shea said.
The FCD players aren’t just excited to play against Henry; there's also Mexico captain Márquez to contend with.
Daniel Hernandez spent several years playing in Mexico’s top division, and though Márquez was in Europe at the time, Hernandez is more than a little familiar with his impressive soccer resume.
“I’ve never had the chance to go up against him," Hernandez said. "I think it will be a big test for us. Márquez is a big Mexican name coming into this market."
However, the FCD captain won't let the star power of the two former Barcelona players intimidate him and his temmates, who have one firm goal in mind.
"The most important thing is to go look for those three points,” he said.