FRISCO - Oscar Pareja’s lineup decisions are getting even harder with the re-addition of two regular starters into training.
Kellyn Acosta and Jesse Gonzalez both returned to the field during the bye week and could be available for selection this weekend as the Colorado Rapids come to town. Normally two faces of the team returning would be an easy choice to put in the starting lineup, but the play of their early-season replacements doesn’t make it so.
“Its always the objective with the roster is trying to keep that competition inside. They are the ones that when they receive that opportunity that they raise that bar and the boys are doing a great job on that part.,” Pareja said this week. “Seeing Jacori [Hayes], Jimmy [Maurer] and the boys just making the case there to be part of the lineup is wonderful for a coach. We need to think about what is best for the team but when you have different options, that will raise the level.”
Hayes has started the last three matches for Dallas and has made a name for himself as a linking option in the midfield - registering his first assist two weeks ago. The veteran Maurer has allowed just two goals in his first three starts of 2018, holding the lowest goals against average of any goalkeeper this season with 10 saves to his name along the way.
“I’m just going to go in and compete,” Hayes said of the added competition in the mix for starting minutes in the midfield. “Kellyn is a world-class player, he’s on the National Team and everything and we’re roommates off the field, so we’re always talking to each other. I’m trying to learn from him, you know, just get better that way.”
“It’s great to have Jesse back, you know its just great to add that competition in,” Maurer said of his own position battle. “That's what its all about, pushing each other in a supportive, positive way but competing. Whoever gets that nod on the weekend is there to put out their best performance because they know they did well during the week.”
Only time will tell how those battle play out on the weekends.