April 9, 2014
By Steve Hunt
MIND THE MINUTES
Pareja carefully managing Perezís playing time
Dallas Soccer News Contributor
FRISCO, Texas---Blas Perez wasnít in the first 11 for FC Dallas on Saturday at Houston, but that was entirely by design. Thatís because earlier in the week, first-year head coach Oscar Pareja lightened the workload for Perez in training, having him take it a bit easier in practice last Wednesday, a session where he spent much of his time on the sidelines watching.
|FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja wants to keep Blas Perez productive over the long haul, even if it means fewer minutes in the short run.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The move makes sense since Perez, who at 33 is Dallasí third-oldest player, has missed his share of games with various knocks during his first two-plus seasons in Frisco.
The Panama-born striker, who has 22 goals and eight assists in 50 appearances with FCD since coming to MLS prior to the 2012 season, did come off the bench in the Bayou City, subbing on for first-time MLS starter David Texeira, but being a sub has been a rarity for Perez with FCD.
In fact, Saturdayís appearance marked just the sixth time with Dallas that he hasnít been among the first 11.
But the fact of the matter is that Perez has racked up his share of minutes over the years no matter where heís played, and Pareja is mindful of how important it is to manage the minutes of his veteran players so they are fresh when he truly needs them the most.
However, Perez was quick to say that his lighter workload in the middle of last week was definitely not a day off.
ďIt wasnít a day off. It was just a more relaxing day,Ē Perez said through a translator. ďI was just trying to manage my body, making sure Iím good to go because we have a long season in front of us.Ē
Pareja wanted to give his most experienced goal scorer a breather to see him at his best in training the following day and thatís exactly the response he received.
ďAwesome. Yeah, it was good. He has been working during the week. Itís normal, natural for him to rest to get some energy back, so that was good,Ē Pareja said.
Perez led FCD in goals each of his first two seasons with the club, finishing with 11 in 2013 and nine the season before, despite missing multiple games due to injury and national team duty. But thereís no denying just how important this accomplished goal scorer is to any aspirations Dallas has of ending their two-year playoff drought.
Thatís why managing his minutes, even at such an early stage of the season, is so important. Sure, itís a marked departure from how things were done under previous head coach Schellas Hyndman, but Pareja does things differently on a lot of fronts and itís hard to argue with the results thus far. Through five games, Dallas leads MLS with 13 points and 13 goals.
It should also be noted that lightening Perezís workload last week was not a unilateral decision that came down from coach to player. Instead, it was a decision player and coach arrived at mutually, illustrating how much respect there is between the two.
ďThe way it goes is, if I donít feel 100 percent, Iím going to go to coach. Coach and I are going to talk. We just came to that, to have a little bit easier day and thatís what happened,Ē Perez said. ďI feel great and ready to go.Ē
Pareja of course concurred with Perezís assessment of the situation.
ďIt was mutual communication with him. We sensed it and he expressed it as well. That was mutual,Ē Pareja said.
Perez and FCD hope to keep their unbeaten record intact when Seattle visits Toyota Stadium on Saturday.