Last week, FC Dallas head coach Colin Clarke announced that World Cup goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, who joined the MLS side in early August, will make his first start for the team in Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal match at Houston.
Hislop, who signed with FCD on July 5, last played between the posts in June's FIFA World Cup, where his stellar play in goal for Trinidad & Tobago was one of the biggest stories of the event. He is clearly excited about making his debut for the Hoops.
"I'm looking forward to it," Hislop said. "That's what I came here for, is to play. Now I'm getting the opportunity to do that. I've had a good week where I feel like I've settled in. Now I'm looking forward to putting on the gloves for real."
Over the weekend, Hislop went on his first road trip with his new team, making FCD's 18-man travel roster as a backup to current starting 'keeper Dario Sala for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Galaxy. He was clearly pleased about making his first trip with the team, which he calls a big part of building camaraderie within any team, something Hislop sees as crucial to being successful.
Clarke's decision to start his newest 'keeper on Wednesday was a no-brainer.
"It's time," he said. "He's been here now for a couple of weeks and it's time to get him back in the nets in a competitive game."
Also announced last week was that Hislop would wear No. 1, making him only the fourth 'keeper in team history to wear it. The last Hoops goalkeeper to do so was Scott Garlick, who played for FCD in 2004 and 2005 before being traded to Real Salt Lake in the offseason.
Not exactly the superstitious type, wearing No. 1 isn't a big thing to Hislop.
"To be honest, my preferred number of choice is 12 (currently worn by midfielder Arturo Alvarez)," he said. "I have worn No. 1 for the last few seasons. But I'm not superstitious in that respect. It doesn't make much of a difference to me. Whatever they give me, I accept gladly."
While Clarke doesn't feel that his newest 'keeper is acclimated to his new surroundings, the FCD boss feels that his playing on Wednesday is a big part of that process.
"He's getting close, but I don't think he's fully there yet," Clarke said. "It takes a while (to get acclimated). It's time to play because that's what he's here for. He's our backup now and fighting for a spot. The sooner he's in there, the better. The sooner we get some games under his belt, that's what we're looking for, is a competitive situation."
Making his debut against the team's in-state rival Houston is also something that intrigues Hislop, who played in his share of rivalry games or derbies as they are referred to, during his time in the English Premier League.
"I've heard a lot about it (the rivalry)," he said. "I've been involved in many derbies as they're called in England before and I know how much they mean to the fans. I'm sure the Dallas fans are no different. They want to see us win in that respect."
Hislop also knows how much such rivalries mean to the fans of both sides.
"It is a (U.S. Open) Cup game, but any win against your rivals is a boost not just for your team, but also for your supporters," he said. "It will go a long way to helping them stay behind us all the way to the end, which is of course is exactly what we need if we are quietly hoping to do."