There was little significance tied to FC Dallas’ 5-1 exhibition win over the University of Tulsa on Saturday.
But for many of the club’s trialists and fringe roster players, Saturday represented a golden opportunity to make an impression on the club’s coaching staff.
Though training camp has been in motion for nearly five weeks, less than a week remains for many of the roster hopefuls to make their case. Roster decisions are expected in advance of the team’s trip to the Disney Pro Soccer Classic on Friday.
“You have to be roster compliant by the first of March, so I think decisions will have to be made by Friday,” assistant coach John Ellinger said following Saturday’s match. “There won’t really be trialists when we go down to Florida. I think we’ll pretty much have our squad with maybe room for one or two players.”
Among those fighting for a roster spot are forwards Dogba and Scott Sealy, both of whom scored against the Tulsa defense.
Sealy, who netted two second half goals on Saturday, knows the pressure is on, but refuses to let it affect his game.
“You can’t worry about it,” Sealy said. “It’s over your head. Obviously you want to do well and get a contract, but you can’t play like that – tentative and not wanting to make mistakes.”
Players will have one final opportunity to shine on Wednesday, though possibly against their most challenging opponent yet.
The team will take on the US U-23s, who will travel to Frisco for a 10-day training camp beginning Sunday. The young squad features MLS talents such as Juan Agudelo and Zarek Valentin in addition to a number of overseas players.
FC Dallas must also deal with a talented American midfielder by the name of Brek Shea.
“They're a good team - a lot of young, talented players from MLS and overseas,” Sealy said. “They’re going to be strong and fast, and have a lot of guys that are good with the ball technically. It’s going to be a good game.”
Ellinger is excited to see his squad match-up against the U-23s, and particularly against Shea. But all eyes will be on those who fighting to remain with the squad as the preseason nears its’ end.
After all, a big performance against elite talent might do wonders for those on the bubble.
“If a guy can step up and play well against a team like the U-23s, that will go a long way in helping that individual,” Ellinger said. “It will be fresh in Schellas’ mind when making the decision.”
Sealy, however, will do anything but dwell on the possibility of leaving the club on Friday. After playing seven years in MLS, every day, game or practice, is equally critical.
“I just play and try to do my thing,” Sealy said. “At the end of the day, if it’s good enough, I’ll be here. If not, I’ll try somewhere else.”