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Guarda expected to make rare start for FCD

Bruno Guarda has been here before. On May 27 in Chicago, the FC Dallas midfielder came into the game in the second half for Dax McCarty after he suffered a right hip pointer. McCarty was unable to play the following week against San Jose, opening the door for Guarda.

The Brazilian midfielder started in McCarty's place and performed well in a 2-0 win over the Earthquakes, but that preceded a three-week break in action for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. When McCarty returned to health, Guarda returned to the bench.

Guarda now finds himself in a similar situation, filling in for McCarty as the fifth-year midfielder is bothered by a strained right quadriceps muscle and won’t travel for the team's Saturday afternoon matchup against Toronto FC.

That means most likely that Guarda, who played for FCD manager Schellas Hyndman at SMU, will be in the starting lineup for the second time in just six weeks.

“I think Bruno is probably a little bit better in the attacking third as far as going to goal, shooting, scoring but I don’t think the connections of his passes are as good,” Hyndman said Wednesday. “Defensively, he’s not as good. It’s another opportunity.”

Hyndman says he’s sticking with the 4-1-4-1 formation until further notice. That look features Milton Rodriguez as the lone forward.

“If that happens, for me to step in and be the fifth guy in the middle in the 4-1-4-1 that Schellas has been playing, I’ll be confident,” Guarda said. “Whatever I can do to help the team, I’ll do it as Schellas requires me to do.”

Besides getting a vote of confidence from his coach, Guarda also got a knowing nod and some kind words from the man he’s replacing on the pitch.

“He’s just a guy that we have a lot of confidence in and he knows the system well,” McCarty said. “He knows what Schellas wants out of him and he has the trust of everyone. I think everyone knows that Bruno can come in and get the job done.”

Like his coach, McCarty even noted some of the similarities between his game and that of his Brazilian teammate.

“He’s very similar to me," McCarty said. "He’s going to help us keep possession and then link the defenders to the forwards. Ultimately, he’s going to be a bulldog in there. He’s going to work his butt off and make it tough for the Toronto midfielders to get anything going."

Earlier this year, Guarda re-enrolled at SMU and has been taking afternoon classes for several days over the last few months. While he is working on his education off the field, he has also been getting one on the pitch.

Saturday could mark his fifth appearances in 2010, the most since he played in 12 games as a rookie in 2008. He admits that the playing time has helped his attitude.

“Since I’ve been getting some minutes, the confidence goes up, the game comes back and everything starts looking brighter and brighter,” Guarda said.