2012 looking like make-or-break year for Bruno Guarda

Four years is a fairly important length of time. Of course, there are four years in high school and in most cases, college usually consists of four years, at least that’s how long most student-athletes have in terms of eligibility.

That number also looks to be an important one for FC Dallas midfielder Bruno Guarda, who is now entering his fourth full season in Major League Soccer. The SMU product broke into MLS in 2008 when he had a goal and an assist in 12 games, nine of which were starts in year one of the Schellas Hyndman era.

In 2011, the Brazilian-born midfielder appeared in 11 games, including five starts and contributed two assists but also saw his share of minutes in the US Open Cup and during FCD’s rather lengthy stay in CONCACAF Champions League.

“Last year was a good year,” Guarda said. “When there were chances to play-Open Cup, CONCACAF, I stepped my game up and contributed to the team.”

But he enters 2012 needing a breakout year if he is to stick with FCD not just beyond this season, but maybe for the entire year. At least that’s how his coach sees it.

“This is an opportunity for Bruno really to step up and make a difference. This is his fourth year,” Hyndman said. “He either needs to get on the field, or is he good enough to go somewhere else, or is he good enough to play somewhere else? This is Bruno’s fourth year in MLS, so this is a big year for him.”

Of course, this being a big year isn’t lost on the versatile 25-year-old Brazilian.

“You’ve always got to come to the first day working as hard as you can and doing everything the coaches ask you for and bring everything you can to the pitch when you have a chance to play like the scrimmage we have [Saturday] morning,” Guarda said.

In 2010 and even for much of last year, midfield depth was a huge strength for Dallas. However due to trades and personnel moves, that depth is now not once at the level it once was, a fact the FCD head coach is more than aware of. Such a lack of depth makes it even more crucial for him to get all he can out of every midfielder on his roster.

“I think our midfield is getting thinner,” Hyndman said. “We had too many midfielders last year and it hurt us in the balance but I think our midfielders are getting a little thinner as far as numbers.”

Guarda joined FCD almost four years ago after a stellar collegiate career at SMU and almost immediately there were questions about his ability to adjust to MLS from the college game, an adjustment that has been a rough one at times for the ex-Mustang.

“Yeah, it goes fast,” he said. “Every time I get a chance, I give everything coach asks for.”

But if there’s one thing he has showcased, it’s been his ability to not just play as an attacking mid, his primary role on the Hilltop, but also his knack for also playing at the holding spot, something he did several years back as a fill-in for former Dallas captain Pablo Ricchetti.

“Whatever they want me to play, I can do any position in the middle-center, attacking mid, defensive mid, linking. [I can] adapt a little bit and then play the game, it depends on the formation we’re playing, 4-4-2 or 4-3-3,” Guarda said. “I’ll be more than happy to play any position that coach wants me to.”

However, like every member of the FCD roster, he is far from content to be a bench player. Instead, he wants to be in Hyndman’s first 11 each and every week. That might remain a tall order, especially with a former league MVP in David Ferreira starting at the No. 10 spot and Dallas captain Daniel Hernandez, also a fellow SMU product, starting at the holding spot.

Still, Guarda is undaunted and continues to set his goals quite lofty, even in the light of playing time that has been hard to come by in his first three full seasons as a professional.

“I’m just waiting for the chance to be a starter. Every player here of course on the roster is wanting the same thing, I want-to play every game, every minute and give everything you can to help FC Dallas,” he said.