Harris suspension leaves Hyndman with decision
FRISCO, Texas – The loss of midfielder Atiba Harris to a red card in the 75th minute was easily the biggest black mark on an otherwise stellar performance Saturday for FC Dallas, who now have to make some adjustments ahead of next Saturday’s second leg of their Western Conference semifinal at Real Salt Lake (10 p.m. ET, FSC).
FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman acknowledged Monday that he has a number of options to replace Harris, who was shown a straight red card for elbowing RSL’s Will Johnson while the two battled for a header midway through the second half of FCD’s 2-1 win at Pizza Hut Park.
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The ejection could mean more time for FCD's series opener savior Eric Avila or possibly Brek Shea, or even versatile Brazilian rookie Jackson Gonçalves.
“It’s a shame about Atiba,” Hyndman said. “It was a difficult call for us. We’ll be talking about that today: what our tactics are going into this game. What we don’t want to do is fall back into a defensive structure where the whole game is down our throat with 20,000 fans.”
The team could also head into Rio Tinto Stadium without Colombian striker Milton Rodríguez, who went down with a groin injury in the 32nd minute and was replaced by eventual goal-scorer Jeff Cunningham.
Rodríguez and the FCD players were given a recovery day on Monday, but Hyndman said he was unsure if the team would get their starting striker back for the crucial series finale in Utah.
“He aggravated the groin, Hyndman said. "You remember the hit [RSL defender Jamison Olave] put on him? I think it just unbalanced the body and then when he went down, Olave came on top of him, which made it worse. It’ll be a day-to-day.”
The prognosis is equally cloudy when it comes to right back Heath Pearce, who was left off the 18-man roster after suffering a hamstring injury early last week.
“I think it’s still a bit too early to tell," explained Hyndman. "The longer we can stay in this tournament, the championship run, the better the chance for Heath to come back."