Considering defender Ugo Ihemelu and midfielder Marvin Chávez are both nursing injuries, FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman is one of a number of coaches around the league thanking the schedule makers for a bye just one week into the season.
“The off week couldn’t have come at a better time for us,” Hyndman said Tuesday. “Maybe [if we had this break] last week, that would have given Ugo [Ihemelu] another week to recover.”
FC Dallas found themselves a bit undermanned in a 1-1 draw against Houston at Pizza Hut Park in the season opener last Saturday, and struggled to contain Dynamo speedster Dominic Oduro out of the gate.
“We missed [Ihemelu] tremendously because of his athleticism and his experience,” Hyndman said. “We had no answers for Dominic’s speed. Kyle [Davies] did a courageous job with it, but you were always on the edge of your seat.”
Ihemelu was slated to start alongside fellow center back George John, at least until he suffered a hamstring injury on March 24. Then Davies went down with a broken arm in the 55th minute, leaving holding mid Daniel Hernandez dropped back to defend while rookie Eric Alexander came on to replace Hernandez at defensive mid.
“Oduro had the one-v-one and then he had another chance that he skied. Having Ugo there, I think that complements our defense,” Hyndman said. “We can play the ball quicker out of the back and are maybe a little stronger in the back, so that’s important.”
Ihemelu talked about his injury on Tuesday, and said he hopes to be ready after the bye week.
“It happened Wednesday,” Ihemelu said. “I was reaching for a ball and felt it. Thankfully we have this bye week. This gives me more time to take it easy and be ready for the next game with Columbus.”
Having to watch his teammates play the Dynamo to a 1-1 draw was especially tough on the seasoned defender.
“It was really frustrating. Honestly, I had been thinking about that game and knew it was a big game for us,” Ihemelu said. “Especially with how we ended the season, we knew we had to come out with some momentum and get a good result.”
Chávez returned to full training on Tuesday for the first time since suffering a knee injury in a preseason game with Houston in late February.
“Today was his first day with the team,” Hyndman said. “I think both [Chávez and Ihemelu] add a different dimension to the team that we’re excited about.”
Chávez was thought to be a lock to start on the right side of the midfield with Brek Shea starting on the opposite flank. Atiba Harris played well on the right on Saturday and scored FCD’s only goal, however, which could change the role for Chávez going forward.
“Even though Brek’s a left-sided midfielder, when you go with the youth, you’ve got to be prepared for great moments and bad moments,” Hyndman said. “I think Chávez will get on the field somewhere.”