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International duty forces FC Dallas to find other lineup options

Mar 9, 2019; Frisco, TX, USA; FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez yells from the touchline during second half against LA Galaxy at Toyota Stadium. (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

FRISCO, Texas–  It’s always a good sign when players are called up to their national teams, but it also leaves the Major League Soccer teams playing through the international window without key players.

For Dallas, that’s three starters — Bryan Acosta (Honduras), Jesse Gonzalez (USA) and Carlos Gruezo (Ecuador) — out for its upcoming match against the Colorado Rapids at 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday. That’s two pivotal midfielders who can help dictate possession and a goalkeeper.

It’s a challenge head coach Luchi Gonzalez knew he’s face this week, and he may use the opportunity to give opportunities to young players — something he enjoys.

“There was excitement,” Gonzalez said when asked about the midfield competition Tuesday. “Not just [No.] 6s, but you got 8s, 10s.”

Gonzalez named Pablo Aránguiz as a midfield, joining Paxton Pomykal, Edwin Cerillo and Brandon Servania.

“We’ll see how Jacori feels tomorrow,” Gonzalez said of Jacori Hayes, who is returning from a hamstring injury. “You’ve got some other players that can slide into the midfield, if needed. Jesus [Ferreira] is an attacking-mid option. John Nelson played 6 against Red Bull in preseason and did well. Bressan is a player that can come in and definitely help defensively in the midfield. He’s done it in his career.”

Servania has yet to make an MLS appearance, while Cerrillo made his debut in the team’s 2-0 victory over the LA Galaxy on March 9.

“It’s a chance for us young guys to get that opportunity to get that starting spot,” Cerrillo said. “We’re all close friends and all, but I feel like on the field it’s a different story and we’re all going to compete for those two open spots.”

Servania could be the next academy debut for the team, and echoed Cerillo about the competition to fill those vacant roles this week.

“Obviously, there’s two big spots to fill,” Servania said.  “All the guys in those positions are trying to earn that spot. We’re all working hard, and I think whoever gets the start will prove themselves and play well. It’s a team; it’s not any individual. We focus on the team so I won’t think it will be a problem.”

At goalkeeper, Jimmy Maurer is expected to replace Jesse Gonzalez. While it may be a change a team still acclimating to its new system, right back Reggie Cannon thinks the team will be fine.

“It’s gonna be an interesting switch,” Cannon said. “Jesse is always a solid player and a solid keeper, but I have no doubt that whoever it is . . . whoever is there will step up to the task.

“I have full faith in whoever steps up in that position. I’ll support them to give them whatever they need.”

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