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Strange start to season has FC Dallas in unfamiliar territory

Mar 24, 2018; Frisco, TX, USA; FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja during the game against the Portland Timbers at Toyota Stadium. The game ends in a 1-1 draw. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As another game week passed in Major League Soccer, FC Dallas was again on the sidelines due to a second bye early on in the season.

For a team trying to get into form, the multiple weeks off have been difficult. The Huntsmen started off the season 1-0-2, with games on March 3, 18 and 24. The team drew its last match against Portland 1-1.

“It’s very unusual,” defender Matt Hedges said after the Portland match. “Every year I’ve been here the season starts and we got games. This year, it’s off weekend every other weekend. It’s kinda weird. It is a breaking of the rhythm of getting us games. But at the same time, it’s something we just gotta deal with.”

Dallas’ first bye last season came after a March 18 match against New England, as the team had two weeks off to prepare for a CONCACAF Champions League semifinal against Pachuca. In 2016, FC Dallas’ first bye week came in June.

“It’s a little weird,” midfielder Jacori Hayes said. “You want to play games every weekend, obviously. The coaching staff will get us ready for two weeks. We already did it once and we were able to come out with the win against Seattle. Hopefully, that same recipe can lead to success in two weeks.”

The team has been countering the byes with intrasquad scrimmages on Saturdays. It’s an opportunity to experiment with formations and players while still trying to keep the squad match fit.

“We bet for [the byes] because of the CCL,” Pareja said after FC Dallas’ intrasquad scrimmage this weekend. “We were obviously thinking about that competition and for us, trying to think about the whole season and how can we manage it better, we opted for having this week off. But then, having the other one too, it was a little too much.”

Jesse Gonzalez and Kellyn Acosta Return

On a more positive note, FC Dallas players Jesse Gonzalez and Kellyn Acosta returned to training this week after being out with injuries.

Gonzalez was injured in the CONCACAF Champions League matches against Tauro FC with a knee injury. He was involved in the scrimmage and drills during the week.

Acosta has yet to play competitively this season due to a hernia injury suffered in the preseason. Acosta did participate in some drills during the week but did not play in the scrimmage. He has mainly has been doing fitness work with conditioning coach Fabian Bazan.

“It was good,” Pareja said. “We were happy to see Jesse performing again. Kellyn, to see him again on the field, that just gives me happiness, to see him not just recovering but see that soon, he will be available for the team.”

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