FRISCO, Texas — After missing eight games with a strained right quadriceps, linking midfielder Dax McCarty will return to the 18-man game roster against the Red Bulls.
“We’ve been monitoring him quite well,” head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “He’s at that phase now where he’s passing our drills and our tests. The thing that he’ll be missing, of course, is the sharpness of the game. But a player of that type of quality, if he’s ready, you can’t keep him back.”
McCarty returned to practice last week. However, the FCD gaffer wasn’t about to say fans should expect to see him back in the starting lineup.
“I don’t think we’re prepared to make that statement yet, but anything can change between now and Thursday,” Hyndman said. “But I think that the first step is to get himself dressed.”
Jackson out, John in?
In just his second MLS start on Saturday, FC Dallas defender/midfielder Jackson Gonçalves had to come out in the 69th minute after he suffered what was thought to be a knee injury in the scoreless tie with San Jose.
The versatile Brazilian was filling in for George John, who was out with a strained hamstring. John could return to the first XI this week, but Jackson’s status is uncertain.
"[Jackson] got hit,” Hyndman said. "I was scared it was a knee, but it turned out it was a muscle contusion. He’s taken a real beating these last couple of weeks… but we’re going to try to lighten up this week for him and see if we can get him back.”
The FCD manager hopes to have John back on Thursday night against the New York Red Bulls, who feature recent DP signings Thierry Henry and Rafa Márquez.
Harris comes off early
Hyndman admitted he got more contributions on the defensive side than on the attacking side from right midfielder Atiba Harris against San Jose. That was a big reason why be brought on speedy Honduran Marvin Chavez for Harris in the 62nd minute. Chavez had assisted on Jeff Cunningham's goal against TFC the week before.
“Some days, you have players play exceptionally well, and some days they’re not playing as well as you hope," Hyndman said.
“We were trying to be aggressive, getting forward and trying to get a goal. I thought that Chavez did so much for us in the last game that he deserved an opportunity. That was the reason for the move—to get Chavez more playing time.”
Sticking with Cunningham
Cunningham started up top for the second straight week, and since he didn’t have a goal in San Jose, he is still just three tallies behind Jaime Moreno for the most goals in MLS history.
The veteran scorer could be in the first XI against the Red Bulls in three days, but Hyndman could instead opt to re-insert Milton Rodriguez, who has now recovered from a shoulder injury that kept him out the last two weeks.
“I thought Jeff did some good things for us. He was really strong on the penetration, on the runs and kept them honest in the back,” the FCD gaffer said.
“Right now, we have Milton coming back. Ruben [Luna] adds a lot when he comes on. He’s a young player and he’s more the future of FC Dallas. Whether it’s this year, next year or five years down the road, he really has a bright future with us. Saying that, I think it’s more trying to get fresh legs into that attacking phase."
No concerns about the pitch
After the remnants of a tropical system dumped over a foot of rain on the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex last week and after Pizza Hut Park hosted a pair of high school football games over the weekend, one might think the playing surface in Frisco might be a concern.
But according to Hyndman, it’s not.
“I think we’ve got a really good crew here that takes care of the field,” the FCD manager said.
A quick visual inspection of the field revealed the surface to be in great shape. There are still the outlines of football numbers from the games over the weekend, but by the time FCD trains on the stadium field on Wednesday, a customary practice on the day before a home game, there shouldn’t be any issues at all.