During last Wednesday’s scrimmage at SMU, there were several FC Dallas players who back in the day roamed the pitch at Westcott Field, notably FCD-veterans Daniel Hernandez and Ugo Ihemelu. That 4-0 win over the Ponies was Hernandez’s first game action of the preseason and the longest Ihemelu has played in the first three preseason game.
Other than the scuttlebutt surrounding the team being in a 4-4-2 for the first half, one of the biggest questions to come out of that game was about the one SMU product, Bruno Guarda, who has nowhere to be seen. It could have been a big return to the Hilltop for Guarda after a stellar collegiate career there. Few seemed to notice that the Arlington Oakridge product didn’t play, much less that he wasn’t even with the team there. Once the subject was broached with FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman after Friday’s practice the truth became known.
Guarda had been, according to a club official, suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. Hyndman didn’t want to discuss the situation at all, which is never a good sign, especially with the soccer sensei being one of the more forthcoming coaches in any sport when it comes to answering tough questions from the leering press.
So what does this mean for Guarda going forward? The answer is a simple one... probably not much. After Daniel Cruz, there might not have been two players who were more in need of a strong showing in preseason than Guarda and fellow midfielder Ricardo Villar.
Cruz never saw the field during preseason due to a knee issue and has left the club. Villar has recently battled a calf issue but has performed pretty well for much of preseason. Hyndman didn’t mince words earlier this preseason when asked what he expects from Guarda leading into this season.
“I think our midfield is getting thinner. We had too many midfielders last year and it hurt us in the balance but I think our midfielders are getting a little thinner as far as numbers. This is an opportunity for Bruno really to step up and make a difference,” Hyndman said. “This is his fourth year. He either needs to get on the field... or is he good enough to go somewhere else... or is he good enough to play somewhere else? Maybe it’s a different division but there’s a big difference when a kid goes to college his freshman year and when he leaves his senior year. He’s been there four years. This is Bruno’s fourth year in MLS, so this is a big year for him.”
The MLS roster freeze deadline is approaching, but a bit closer is FCD’s trip to Orlando, an excursion that the coaches have said will only include players who figure into their 2012 plans. So will that travel party include Guarda or not? Most likely it will. Word is Guarda apologized to his teammates for his transgression as well as to the coaches and the organization, so expect Guarda to be reinstated this week and also expect him to likely be on the roster come opening day.
Had Cruz been healthy during preseason, then maybe this is a story that turns out differently. Fortunately for this SMU product, Cruz’s knee woes came when they did. However, should Guarda make this roster and have another slip up, then all bets are off. Then, we could see him either traded or maybe even outright released.
Hopefully it doesn’t come to that though as Guarda is still a serviceable player who provides depth in the Dallas midfield.
Update: As of Monday, Guarda had not been reinstated and remained away from the team. When asked if there was an update in the situation after practice on Monday, Hyndman replied “That’s something I’m not going to talk about.”