Milton Rodriguez didn’t wait long to make a splash in his MLS debut.
The Colombian striker took just 10 minutes to earn his first real scoring chance last Saturday, clanking a header off a David Ferreira corner kick off the crossbar in FCD’s 2-0 win over visiting Real Salt Lake.
“I felt good in my first game,” Rodriguez said through an interpreter on Wednesday. “Physically, for the most part, I felt good until about 10 minutes before I came out. I was cramping a little bit but between the heat and it being my first game in a while, it was normal.”
FCD midfielder Brek Shea, who scored off a rebound after a Rodriguez shot in the second half, likes what his new 34-year-old teammate brings to the field.
“He’s a different player with a different style,” Shea said after Saturday’s game. “He held the ball for us. He helped a lot.”
Even though he did perform fairly well in his first competitive action in more than two months, it was clear there were some things he will have to adjust to in MLS.
“I feel like I will get adjusted to the game pretty quickly,” Rodriguez said. “It’s definitely going to take a little time because the speed of play is different and it’s a different style of soccer here, but I don’t see it as a problem. I just think it will take more minutes to get adjusted to it.”
For a good part of the second half, at least until Rodriguez left the field for Bruno Guarda in the 72nd minute, FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman shifted from a 4-1-4-1 with the Colombian striker as his lone forward into a 4-4-2, where Rodriguez was paired up top with Jeff Cunningham.
“You can see there’s a real soccer brain there and a real killer mentality going to goal,” Hyndman said of Rodriguez. “I think we’re going to be very pleased with him as this season comes closer to an end.”
Hyndman said the 4-4-2 is an option for FC Dallas heading into Toronto, but that the 4-1-4-1 is more likely.
“We’d like to go to the 4-4-2 and have the capability to go 4-4-2, but I think we do a really good job in the way we’re playing because we free (Ferreira) up a lot,” Hyndman said. “Until we feel that the other players on the team can handle the 4-4-2, we probably won’t look at it as much with the personnel that we have or until we get more developmental players.”
As for Rodriguez, the Toronto match offers up the opportunity to make an even bigger splash in his go-round: his first MLS goal.
“It definitely would have been satisfying for me to score in my debut,” Rodriguez said. “Hopefully in Toronto, I can get my first goal. For a forward, that gives you a sense of calmness and takes that pressure off your back when you get that first goal. I feel the goals will come.”
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