FRISCO, Texas - No one will be happier than FC Dallas to have flipped the calendar to August this morning. July was a month they’d like to put behind them after just two points from four games, but along with the heat that August brings to the metroplex comes renewed optimism.
Star striker Blas Perez has returned fresh off a fantastic three-goal performance with Panama at the Gold Cup, George John is healthy and commanding the back line again and most importantly, FCD still sits just five points out of first place in the Western Conference with a 13-game, three-month sprint to the finish awaiting them.
“I think it was kind of the end of a section of the season,” said midfielder Andrew Jacobson about the two-week break from MLS play. “Now, we’re ready for the next section. We know this is where it matters. We’ve played to this point, we’re right in the mix, and this is where we want to be. Obviously, we want to be higher up, but we gave ourselves a chance and now we’re going into the last section of the season and now we’ve got to turn it on.”
With five games against Western Conference opponents ahead, the month of August will go a long way to determining the fate of FC Dallas down the stretch, and it all starts with a return to Seattle where FCD’s nine-game unbeaten streak was ended in mid-May. Saturday’s game is a true “six-pointer” as a Sounders win would pull Sigi Schmid’s side to just a point behind FCD while a Dallas win could stretch the gap to a huge seven points.
“You set a goal to get yourself in the playoffs and if you look back at our first ten games, we played so well and we were sharper than other teams and we had the benefit of a lot of home games,” said Schellas Hyndman. “We started off extremely well, then we hit a spot where players are getting called up and we have injuries… we’ve got a couple new additions with Mauro [Diaz] and Erick and once they’re ready to go, we think they’re going to add good things to our team. We’re also happy to have Blas back which will make us a more dangerous team scoring goals.”
Indeed having “Super Raton” back for FCD will be huge as the striker plays in Seattle for the fourth time this year after previous games with FCD and Panama. Perez has six goals in 12 starts for FCD and his return to the lineup could be the perfect remedy for an offense that’s struggled to score goals lately.
“Playing in Seattle is always difficult,” Perez said through a translator on Wednesday. “What we need to do is go with the mentality that we can’t afford to lose and we need to work hard to bring back points. It’s going to be key to keep our concentration and not give away any goals. It’s so hard to play against them, we can’t give away the game. It’s going to be a hard game, but we have a lot of potential. We just need to find the right rhythm and the goal to turn it around.”