sportsFC Dallas

Amid postseason push, FC Dallas calls upon familiar face Jáder Obrian for winger help

Obrian was a fixture in last year’s starting lineup for FC Dallas and has provided value off the bench.

When FC Dallas winger Alan Velasco suffered a thigh injury, it was time to turn to Jáder Obrian.

Obrian is something of a familiar face from a forgotten season, or at least a season FCD fans want to forget.

Yet after the struggles of 2021, Obrian helped vanquish some of those bad memories. The winger scored FCD’s only goal against the San Jose Earthquakes in a 1-1 draw that clinched FCD’s playoff place for the 2022 season, achieving the team’s stated goal after last year’s 11th-place finish in the Western Conference.

Obrian was a fixture in last year’s starting XI but has found it far tougher to get on the field under new manager Nico Estévez. Still, he was thrilled to help FCD when called upon.

“Right now is when the team needs those of us who haven’t played that much,” Obrian told The Striker. “We know it’s a long season, and, as the manager says, we have to be ready for any moment, one opportunity.”

FCD signed Obrian before last season as a replacement for Michael Barrios, whom they’ll see this weekend when they visit his current team, the Colorado Rapids. A small, fast winger who even started his career at the same (now-defunct) club in Colombia, Obrian seemed like a younger version of the veteran FCD attacker. After an inspiring preseason, though, Obrian seemed off the pace in MLS. Still a regular for Luchi Gonzalez, Obrian ended the year with nine goals and four assists, but FCD highlighted winger as a position of need in the winter.

It spent a record amount of money to bring in Velasco and also traded for U.S. national team member Paul Arriola, who will return from matches in Europe on Wednesday and may or may not be ready to start against the Rapids.

That left Obrian in a substitute role, playing around 1,000 fewer minutes this season than he did in 2021. He’s matched last season’s assist total with four, as FCD has benefited from a revamped attack this season, and added a pair of goals.

Even as he saw his role diminished, Obrian said he wanted to make sure he was still providing value to the team when needed.

“I’ve worked hard and never let my head hang because I knew that at any time the opportunity was going to come,” Obrian said. “We didn’t want our teammate to get injured and hope he recovers well, but of course I’ve worked to deserve the chance and have come in and been able to support the team. Now that they need me, I have to be up to the level, do things well and make sure my teammates are comfortable.”

Teammates seem to enjoy what Obrian brings off the pitch, as he and the entire FCD bench have looked for spots where they can slot in and help the team with minimal frustration about their roles.

“The mentality is always positive. Sometimes you want to have more chances, but when it’s your turn you have to do things as well as possible, whether it’s starting or coming in as a sub, everyone has to be professional and try to help the team as well as possible with the minutes you get,” forward Franco Jara said. “It’s good because you see that as a team we have a lot of energy. We’re on a good path.”

It’s a much better path than the one the team was on last year, and even as Velasco prepares to return, Obrian hopes to continue playing a part in pushing FCD down that path toward the postseason, a home game in the playoffs and, they hope, a first-ever MLS Cup.

The Dallas Morning News partners with The Striker Texas to bring coverage of FC Dallas and other notable Texas soccer stories to dallasnews.com. Find more soccer coverage at thestrikertexas.com.

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