FRISCO, Texas --- When the Columbus Crew picked up Jeff Cunningham in Stage 2 of the MLS Re-Entry Draft last week, it officially signaled that Cunningham’s two-plus years with FC Dallas were over.
It also signaled a possible return to Dallas for veteran striker Milton Rodriguez, who had five goals and two assists in 13 games last season before a groin injury suffered in the first leg of the playoffs kept him out for the duration of the postseason.
Rodriguez, 32, could be called on in 2011 not just to produce numbers like he did last season, but also to mentor the team’s youngsters, like 18-year-old Ruben Luna, a product of the club’s youth system and the future up top.
“Yes, we’re looking at Milton being back. We need to have some experience there,” FCD technical director Barry Gorman told MLSsoccer.com by phone last week. “Milton supplied that. We feel that Milton is the kind of player that’s going to help young players develop and the kind of player that is going to be very good around the locker room.”
Gorman added that it was a tough decision to part ways with Cunningham, who led FCD in goals each of the last two seasons. The veteran had 11 goals and three assists in 2010 and added another goal in the postseason, but did the bulk of his damage coming off the bench.
“That was a decision that we had to make as we look forward, especially in terms of trying to promote the youth. It was a situation where we’re looking at the numbers of a player,” Gorman said.
“We’re looking at the age of a player and the direction we want to go in. We wish Jeff all the very best. I think he still has something to offer the league. It was just a philosophical decision going forward because we have so many good young players coming through.”
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