FRISCO, Texas — Eric Avila has just one goal and one assist in 16 games this year. His lone goal came on April 10, when the FC Dallas midfielder netted a game-tying tally against Columbus that held up and secured a point at home in the team’s second game of the season. But the stat line doesn’t tell the whole story.
Avila’s only assist of 2010 came on Wednesday as FCD were trailing New England 2-1 and facing the very realistic prospect of seeing their 15-game unbeaten streak come to a screeching halt. But Avila put in a perfectly weighted ball on a give-and-go to teammate David Ferreira, who set up Jeff Cunningham’s stoppage-time equalizer.
It was a play of which Avila is very proud.
“I hadn’t been playing for two games,” the midfielder said. “As soon as I got in, I was excited. I got put into a tough situation because the game was going up and down. I was just happy to be there and happy to connect with David.”
Avila had a four-game stretch earlier this year where he didn’t play, but he is now one of head coach Schellas Hyndman’s first options off the bench when he needs someone to invigorate his offense with some pace, fresh legs and good vision.
Hyndman was very pleased with how his young midfielder fared in his 20 minutes of action on Wednesday night.
“I thought he was very effective,” the Dallas manager said. “I thought he was dangerous. He’s the right player to put into the game when you have everything on the line and are trying to get forward.”
The positive result from Avila’s substitution is just the culmination of his simple approach every time Hyndman gives him the nod for the second half.
“I’m trying to help the team as much as possible,” he said. “I want to be first off the bench, try to help the team when they’re down and be that extra push. I think it will be important if we make the playoffs if I’m one of the first guys off the bench and [can] make an impact.”
FCD currently have 43 points and are a near lock to make the playoffs. Avila realizes that when his club does qualify, he will be in a good position to make his postseason debut. But until then, it’s back to the grindstone.
“I have to be ready,” Avila said. “I have to be 100 percent fit and ready to go into that spot coming off the bench or starting. ... I want to be prepared and ready to go.”