With the roster cutdown day two weeks away, the time for many trialists to make MLS rosters is growing ever shorter. But one who remains with FC Dallas is defender Edson Edward, who came to the club following a solid career at NAIA school Graceland University.
A 6-0 native of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Edward was an all-conference performer in college, where he played predominantly at center back. He played a similar role in FCD's first few preseason matches before shifting over to right back in the last couple of weeks.
His last preseason action came on Sunday when he played the final 34 minutes of a 1-0 loss to Florida International.
"(He's) another player who has done pretty well for us. ... He's very athletic and very strong," FCD coach Schellas Hyndman said. "He seems to be improving in this environment, which is a great help."
Edward has only been with the club for a few weeks but has enjoyed his time to date with FCD.
"It's been a fabulous experience. All the guys in the locker room have been really cool and easy to relate to," he said. "They've welcomed in all the new guys with open arms. I just really like the environment from the players to the coaches. It's been easy getting along with everyone."
Players at Division I level generally struggle with the jump to MLS, a jump that could be even bigger between NAIA and MLS.
"Just the speed of play (is the biggest difference) because in NAIA, typically the players are talented but here, you have the talented players and you don't have as much time on the ball, so your thought process has to be a lot quicker," he said.
Edward is likely battling with fellow trialist Steve Purdy for the final roster spot on defense. Purdy spent most of 2009 with FCD but was injured for much of the year before being released late in the year.
While his time with FCD has been short, Edward definitely feels like he continues to improve with each practice and game. "Yeah, every day, confidence builds as I get to know the players and the game better," Edward said. "I feel like every day I get better as we go on."
Like any of his fellow trialists, he can't help but continually wonder what his chances are of making Hyndman's roster.
"It's funny. It changes every day pretty much," Edward said. "Some days, you feel better than others but I think I'm right up there in the competition. I'm just going to give it my all and hope for the best."
Since he spent his college career in the middle, playing out wide and taking on a larger role in the attack is clearly an adjustment.
"In college, I was a center back most of the time but here, I'm more of an outside back. I'm pretty confident with the ball and going forward, but if there is one part of my game that I want to work on it is my service," he admitted. "I don't think that is a problem but it could use some help."
That shift to the right flank has also caused him to change his frame of mind.
"Just going forward with the ball more and trying to find the best possible option up top (have been the biggest adjustments) because normally at center back, you find the wingers and they do that job," he said. "I'm trying to adjust to getting the ball, opening up as quickly as possible and finding either the forward's feet or the flank."
Edward isn't the only Graceland product who has played in MLS. Kevin Souter was a midfielder for Kansas City, appearing in eight games over the last two years.
"I kind of had a brief understanding of what it would take and how to adjust per se. I talked to a lot of people before coming here," Edward said. "So I think I was quite prepared for what to expect but nothing has been too overwhelming for me."
Still, there has been one FCD veteran who has helped make his transition an especially smooth one.
"I think Daniel Hernandez has been a really good help. When we practice and in games, he's always talking to me and always giving me constructive criticism, letting me know what I can do better and letting me know when I do something right," Edward said. "He's been a really good leader in my eyes. He doesn't just help me. He helps everyone out pretty well."
For Edward, part of the battle has already been won -- gaining the notice of the FCD coaches. Now he has to come out every day with the aim of realizing his dream and a place in Major League Soccer.
"I realize that if you don't perform, then you won't get a spot on the team. Coming to Florida, I kind of put a little pressure on myself to lift my game and to be the best player I can be," he said. "I think I'm also trying to play it simple and be the player that got me here in the first place."