Sunday, March 02, 2008
FC Dallas sees bright future,Club's trio of Brazilian players will play a large role in success
Veteran midfielder Saragosa is part of an exciting trio of Brazilians on FCD. (David Podwika/WireImage.com)
FRISCO, Texas -- Forgive FC Dallas head coach Steve Morrow if he's a little giddy about what his talented Brazilian trio could do for his side this year.
Already featuring veteran midfielder Marcelo Saragosa and 19-year-old livewire striker Ricardinho, Morrow saw a third Brazilian piece introduced on Tuesday when midfielder Andre Rocha officially had his move confirmed from FCD's South American partner, Clube Atletico Paranaense.
"We're delighted to have Marcelo (Saragosa) fit and hopefully, he can stay healthy for us because he will be an important player for us," Morrow said. "We're expecting a bigger year from Ricardinho as well. He's come back looking very fit, very strong and very hungry to play. (Andre) Rocha has impressed us so far with what he's done on the field. It's a good group of players and we're expecting a lot of things from those three."
Rocha and Ricardinho were teammates at CAP for most of the last year before Ricardinho came to MLS last July. The two are ready again to strike up a good partnership.
"We had a really good friendship while we were there (with Paranaense)," Rocha said. "Since I've arrived, he has taken care of me and looked after me. He and Marcelo (Saragosa) have both done that. They're always helping me and helping me communicate, which is very good for me. That will help me to be able to adapt even faster to being here in Dallas."
Even though Wednesday marked only Rocha's second day in Hoops, he already feels like part of the family. "It's a good group that I have been able to incorporate myself into well," he said. "I like the character that I've seen so far. I've been received very well by them."
Ricardinho is equally pleased to be once again playing alongside Rocha. "At Paranaense, we played together for a year," he said. "He's a great person and also a great soccer player. It's great to have him here in Dallas. I think he will do well here."
Saragosa also played with Rocha when the two were with Sao Paulo FC in Brazil several years back.
"I know him from my time with Sao Paulo," Rocha said. "Even though he is a few years older than me, we were teammates there for a while. We lost touch when he came to the United States but it's good to be on the same team with him again. ... Having three Brazilians here is a beautiful thing."
While Rocha spent his last two seasons with CAP, his fellow Brazilians both come off solid performances last season. Saragosa performed well in 2007 when healthy. He played in 13 games, 10 of those starts, and had a pair of assists. But it was injuries that defined his season. He started the year off strongly, starting the first two games before spraining his right MCL in an April 12 game against his former team, the LA Galaxy.
He missed four games before returning, but had to leave a July 4 match with Chivas USA with an injured right knee after just 12 minutes. He was placed on the season-ending injury list on August 23 and had surgery to repair his torn meniscus. Now healthy, Saragosa is once again ready to contribute.
Ricardinho joined the team in June on loan and was officially added to the roster in mid-July. The young striker played in eight games, three of those starts, and had one assist, feeding Abe Thompson on the game-winner in a 3-1 win at Columbus on Oct. 11 that clinched a playoff spot for the Hoops.
"Being one of three Brazilians here is a very good thing," Ricardinho said. "We all want to play well as a group and for FC Dallas. The possibility of having three Brazilians starting is good. We all are good on the ball and great passers."
Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.