Diaz was injured late in FCD's 2-1 win over the Sounders on Sunday at Toyota Stadium, appearing to twist his knee trying to avoid an oncoming tackle.
Word out of Frisco is that FC Dallas midfielder Mauro Diaz will undergo knee surgery, according to Goal.com, and that the MLS MVP candidate could miss up to eight months with an Achilles injury, per Sports Illustrated.
Diaz was injured late in FCD’s 2-1 win over the Sounders on Sunday at Toyota Stadium, appearing to twist his knee trying to avoid an oncoming tackle from Seattle defender Tyrone Mears. And some in the home locker room seemed to insinuate that the injury resulted from dirty play.
“I think there were a lot of late tackles or tackles where guys were coming through the man to get the ball,” defender Ryan Hollingshead said afterward. “… They’re not doing that on accident.”
Added Dallas coach Oscar Pareja: “We need to protect players. The friction tonight was too much. It is sometimes not tangible, it’s not something you can see, but it’s one after another after another, and then you pay the price.”
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On Tuesday, however, interim Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer pushed back against the notion that Diaz’s “unfortunate” injury was the fault of any nefarious action by his players.
“On that play, Tyrone did not cause that injury,” Schmetzer said. “The kid stepped backwards and injuries happen. The commentary by Oscar … Oscar’s a good guy. Hollinghead said some things. We let all of those things go. That’s their team. That’s their opinion. I felt bad for the kid.”
Schmetzer added that he did shake Pareja’s hand after the game and apologize for the loss of one of his best players: “He and I are OK.”
“It’s just unfortunate that a really, really talented player got hurt in the last (home) game of the year,” Schmetzer said. “But in no way, shape or form do we advocate going after their best players. We don’t play like that. We want to play good soccer. I’ve had the same argument when teams would target Clint (Dempsey) or (Nicolas) Lodeiro. But we don’t play like that.”
FC Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo — who, coincidentally enough, gave Schmetzer his coaching start with the indoor Seattle SeaDogs back in the ’90s — appeared to agree with his former protege when speaking with reporters on Tuesday in Frisco.
“I look at the play with Mauro, maybe it’s a yellow card,” Clavijo said. “I don’t think it was a vicious tackle, but it was 33 games of that that I have concern with. If he didn’t get kicked for 33 games, maybe that tackle is just another tackle, it’s just simple. That’s my concern. It’s not because of this one, only the last one, but the many that he got throughout the year that were never called or players were never given a red card.”
Both sides agreed that referee Mark Geiger could have been more proactive, saying that early inconsistency led to heated emotions in the final stages of the match.
“Give us an opportunity to adjust for you,” veteran Seattle forward Herculez Gomez said after the game. “When you don’t, when you’re erratic and all over the place like that, guys get on edge. Emotions come out. This is our livelihood.”
Diaz’s injury further muddies an already cloudy Western Conference playoff picture.
Dallas can clinch the top seed with a win over Los Angeles this weekend but has now lost two of its best players in the middle of the season, with Fabian Castillo having joined Trabzonspor of the Turkish Super Lig in the summer transfer window. Colorado has also clinched a first-round bye but has scored fewer goals than anybody in the West save punchless San Jose. Los Angeles has been inconsistent as of late, and the four teams below the Galaxy are all still playing for their postseason lives.
“It’s a huge blow for (Dallas),” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said Tuesday. “I think they’re going to be a different team without (Diaz). We didn’t target him specifically. We know he’s one of their best players. He’s probably their best player. You can’t let him run the show. Same thing with us – they weren’t going to let Nico (Lodeiro) run the show. They were all over him, as well.
“I don’t think it’s specifically about protecting skilled players, but maybe just getting a hold of the game early on, so that both teams know how the game is going to be called, whether it is going to be tight or loose, and keep that consistency. For my liking, it was a bit inconsistent. There were really soft fouls and there were fouls that should have clearly been called and weren’t. It makes it tough for players to gauge how far they can go.
“It’s unfortunate. I wish him all the best. Because he’s a really, really good player. Hopefully he’ll bounce back quickly.”