FRISCO - When FC Dallas takes the field on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls, they’ll do something they’ve done just once in the last 116 matches across all competitions: playing without Michael Barrios.
After his fifth yellow card of the season last weekend in Houston, the integral winger will see his streak of 96 consecutive MLS matches come to an end as he serves a one-game suspension for card accumulation. Even more, the only game he’s missed in total since his run began on June 19, 2016 was a Concacaf Champions League group stage match later that year against Suchitepequez on Sept. 28.
In the 952 days since, Barrios has appeared in every single match that FCD has played. Open Cup. CCL. Playoffs. All of it. Along the way, he’s tallied 17 goals and 31 assists.
“Mikey is a fantastic member of this team, this locker room, this family,” head coach Luchi Gonzalez said this week. “Off the field, he’s a leader by example, a good human being with his teammates, and then on it, he’s got not just talent, but he’s a model in terms of trying to play the way that we want him to play.”
“He’s a difference maker in the offensive part, one of the best wingers in the league - maybe the best - so we are really proud that he’s with us,” defender Reto Ziegler said. “It’s not (going to be) easy to play without him, but we have a good group and different kinds of players and I know we’re going to be ready, even if we miss him.”
His streak will go down as the second-longest in MLS history for a field player, and is well past the previous FCD mark held by David Ferreira at 66.
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“It’s something that fills me with joy, something that fills me with a lot of desire to continue working and to continue believing in myself,” Barrios said of playing such an integral role with the club over the last three years. “It makes me realize that if I want something, I can go after it. So I just need to continue to work and keep training to the max because I know that things are going well.”
Though the streak is coming to an unexpected end, just as it was set to hit the century mark, we can all agree that if anyone deserves a night off, it’s Michal Barrios.
“I think this is a positive for him to get a rest. I think the guy has played so many consecutive games and he’s been so important to the club, like every human being, we need a break. And I think this is a moment where he’s not going to play and someone else has to step it up,” Gonzalez said. “He’s going to be there to support the team, I know that. It’s a good moment for him to rest emotionally and mentally, recharge and come back strong next week.”
“It’ll be difficult,” Barrios admitted about watching from the stands this weekend. “It’ll be painful not being on the field, but these things happen in soccer, so I just have to continue to work and think ahead of what’s to come.”