FRISCO, Texas – A coach would ideally like to have his starting lineup set by the end of the regular season, so he knows just who he'll field to start the playoffs. But it doesn’t look like Schellas Hyndman has that luxury for FC Dallas.
The FCD coach’s woes begin with defender Heath Pearce, who was a concern even before he missed last weekend’s season finale against the LA Galaxy due to yellow card accumulation.
Dallas open their Western Conference semifinal series against Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Pizza Hut Park.
“We’re still contemplating what we’re going to do with Heath,” Hyndman said. “The suspension is something we’re concerned about. One of the things we’re concerned about is, when we played Real Salt Lake [two weeks ago], they seemed to really overload that side. We’re kind of looking to see what may be some options for us.”
Brazilian rookie Jackson Gonçalves, however, might not be the best replacement option while he continues to recover from a hamstring injury suffered in the 2-1 loss to LA on Sunday evening. He was on the sidelines during Thursday’s training and wearing a brace on his left leg.
[inline_node:316243]Hyndman also has a decision at linking midfielder, where Dax McCarty has returned in recent weeks but has clearly been rusty after missing eight games with a strained right quadriceps muscle.
Rookie Eric Alexander was working with the first team during Thursday’s practice and performed well as a fill-in for McCarty during his injury.
Perhaps the biggest decision comes in goal, but it appears like veteran Kevin Hartman is still a question mark ahead of the series opener. Hartman was expected by some to return against LA, but Hyndman said he never had such intentions after Hartman spent more than a month on the shelf with a strained right MCL.
“I feel really excited about being back out there with the guys,” Hartman said. “I’ve been feeling good. I feel prepared.”
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