VANCOUVER, BC – Blas Pérez has declared himself fit for Saturday’s match vs. FC Dallas.
No surprise there.
The former FC Dallas striker didn’t make the trip to Salt Lake with Vancouver Whitecaps FC this past weekend due to some tightness in his hamstring, but he was back on the training pitch on Tuesday as the ‘Caps began their preparations for his old team.
Pérez did some individual work on the sidelines and trained with the main group as a neutral before telling reporters he’ll be ready to go this weekend.
“He would say he’d be available even if he was hopping around on one leg,” said head coach Carl Robinson, adding that he’s hopeful Pérez will in fact be available. “He wants to play.”
That’s the case every week, but Pérez admitted this match in particular has some extra significance. After all, he spent four years with FC Dallas before the ‘Caps acquired him in a trade for midfielder Mauro Rosales this preseason. It was his longest spell at a single club during an 18-year professional career that has seen him play for a total of 16 different teams (including loans).
So when he says it has some extra significance, you can understand why.
“It’s going to be a special moment for me, but the main thing is to come out with the three points,” Pérez told reporters. “It doesn’t matter who comes to play over here.”
He’s right, but there’s no denying the intrigue with this one.
Dallas is already one of Vancouver’s biggest rivals – a controversial playoff match will have that effect. There’s always a little spice when these two teams get together. And the fact that Pérez, the former villain, has switched allegiances only makes it more interesting.
“This is Dallas,” said Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted. “I don’t think anything needed to be added. But it has been with Blas against his old team. We want to help Blas as much as possible, we want to help ourselves, and we want to treat the fans to a great game. This game has everything for us.”
Kekuta Manneh was singing a similar tune on Tuesday.
He said matches with Dallas are always “very intense” and that the ‘Caps desperately want to get back to their winning ways after a pair of road losses.
But he also said: “We want to win that game for Blas.”
“He’s a big character for us in the locker room right now,” Manneh said. “Making everyone smile and just helping the younger players and trying to make everyone around him better.”
When asked if it’s going to feel strange at all playing against his old team – the only other team he’s played for in MLS – Pérez quickly looked off his translator and said: “No, no, no.” Sure, he has a lot of old friends on the team, and a lot of good memories there, but he’s fully committed to Vancouver now and he’s working hard to win over the fans that once saw him as the enemy.
“It’s not strange at all,” Pérez said. “It’s one of those things where step by step, you slowly gain the trust of the fans and you gain their support.”
Helping the ‘Caps get a result on Saturday would go a long way in doing just that.
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