FRISCO -- The lifelong dream of Bradlee Baladez was about to come true.
With Blas Perez suspended and Eric Hassli not yet at full fitness, the homegrown forward, signed this offseason from the University of South Carolina, was summoned by head coach Schellas Hyndman as the clock ticked into stoppage time with FC Dallas clinging to a 1-0 lead.
In his first possible chance, Baladez was set to make his professional debut. He’d put his jersey on, slid in his shin guards…and then Matt Hedges went down. The second-year center back was kicked by Atiba Harris in the knee on an attempted clearance, dropping Hedges and forcing Hyndman to bring in backup center back Stephen Keel to see out the last few minutes.
“It is what it is,” Baladez said after training on Wednesday. “Right when coach called my name I was caught off guard a little bit, because it was right at the 90th minute. I was ready and really excited with a lot of emotions but whatever, it happens.”
Hyndman brought in Keel with FCD’s third substitution, ending Baladez’s chance at making a dream professional debut in front of his friends and family at FC Dallas Stadium.
“It was crazy, a lot of emotions, a lot of butterflies,” said Baladez about his first MLS game day experience. “I’m excited for the season and what’s to come for FC Dallas in the future.”
With Perez suspended for one more game, it’s likely that the homegrown forward will make the trip to Chivas USA with FC Dallas this weekend for his second straight spot on the game day roster and if called upon, he says he will be ready. Though this time, it might behoove the youngster to quickly log the substitution with the fourth official.
“I told my parents five years ago I was coming to the games watching and now I’m on the bench,” said Baladez. “Nothing towards Matt, I’m more mad at Keel if anything.”