BRIDGEVIEW, IL - MAY 23: Jair Benitez #5 of FC Dallas battles with Patrick Nyarko #14 of the Chicago Fire during an MLS match at Toyota Park on May 23, 2012 in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Fire defeated FC Dallas 2-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Whew, finally a game week again and what a game week it is. FC Dallas trains up in Frisco every morning this week in preparation for the big game down in Houston with a chance to take back "El Capitan." (In case you haven't seen, the kickoff time for the match has been moved to 630PM.)
Not just a ton of news, but there's a few things going on to take a look at.
First off, vote FCD for the 2012 MLS All-Star team. I'd love to see Blas Perez make the squad, but I'm thinking it may be tough for him to beat out guys like Cooper, Henry and Donovan. He's certainly been FCD's best player this season. If you need a full voting guide, Todd Date at 3rd Degree sizes up the competition.
Perez is a no-brainer pick as an All-Star and depending on how the second half of the year goes for him and FCD, could also still be a dark horse pick for MLS Newcomer of the Year.
Last week was probably the first week of training for FC Dallas without a game at the end since the pre-season and Mark Norris writes that fitness was the focus.
“I think for them it was both a physical relief and a mental relief,” Hyndman said. “A lot of people recognize that you’re playing three games in a week. But they might not recognize is there’s more traveling, there’s more physical play, there’s more injuries and trying to recover from those injuries.”
Keep reading for lots of FCD Academy news
Jon Top, Boyd Okwuono and Daniel Garcia are currently in South America with the USA U20 squad in their preliminary preparations for the 2013 U20 World Cup. The USA dropped a 2-0 decision to Uruguay as well as another 4-2 loss, though one of the FCD players scored.
Pineda dished out the last goal of the game in the first minute of stoppage time when he streaked down the right flank and placed a cross into the center of the area. Daniel Garcia came crashing in, slamming the header into the right side of the goal for the final scoreline.
Top, Garcia & Okwuono could be gone towards the end of July as the US will play in a prestigious youth tournament in Northern Ireland.
The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team will participate at the Northern Ireland Milk Cup 2012 from July 21-26 in Ballymena, Northern Ireland. Head coach Tab Ramos will lead his squad against Denmark and Turkey in the first two matches.
The run for the playoffs starts on Saturday for FCD and Todd Date writes that Schellas Hyndman doesn't think anything is out of reach.
“No, we’ve got 19 games left and I think what you haven’t seen is our best. We’re just on a slippery slope,” Hyndman said. “We realize there’s teams ahead of us but we also realize we can help ourselves by closing the gaps and getting the ball to bounce right for us. We also know there’s some tough games on the road and we’ve got to get some points."
One player who may not be around for the playoff push is Moises Hernandez. Comunicaciones, a Guatemalan club, has contacted FCD about bringing him in on loan. I've been told the deal is far from done, but with Moises' deep Guatemalan roots and his need for some playing time, a loan move would be a great deal for him.
The U18s finish the season with a remarkable 24-4-3 record which should have them as a top seeded team for the national playoffs which begin in Frisco in a couple weeks. The U16s didn't have quite as spectacular of a record but thanks to a 5-1-2 finish to the season have snuck into the playoffs as well. We'll be tracking both teams through the USSDA playoffs at the end of June and hopefully to finals week in Houston which will be played in mid-July.