FCD producing positive results under Hyndman
By Pat Martin, Soccer Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Suddenly FC Dallas is looking like a legitimate contender in Major League Soccer under head coach Schellas Hyndman.
That hasn't always been the case since the long-time Southern Methodist University coach took over for Steve Morrow in the middle of the 2008 season.
The 59-year-old Hyndman, who went 466-122-49 in his 26 years at SMU, got off to a rocky start in MLS, going 4-6-8 in '08 before going 11-13-6 in his first full season with Dallas in '09, missing the playoffs by a single point.
Then, the Hoops started the 2010 season without a win in their first five league fixtures.
For the first time in almost 30 years, Hyndman had to answer if he was the right man for the job.
"Going from an environment like SMU where you are very comfortable after 26 years and everybody loves you and expects a winner, and you've become a winner, to an environment where people are questioning your coaching abilities, your managing abilities, that was tough," Hyndman told The Sports Network. "It's a different level, there are different expectations. I'm hoping those were the worst of times."
If the recent run that the team is on is any indication, those were definitely the worst of times.
Schellas Hyndman got off to a rocky start in MLS.
Dallas (9-2-9) is currently one of the hottest teams in MLS, going unbeaten in 11 league fixtures while also not losing in its last nine road matches. It sits in third in the ultra-competitive Western table, three points behind defending MLS Cup champs Real Salt Lake with a game in hand, and seems poised to make a serious run over the final 10 games of the regular season and into the playoffs.
"We finished our first 10 games with 12 points, which were a very difficult 12 points to get," Hyndman said. "In our second 10 games we really focused on trying to hit 20 points and we hit 24. Now we are focusing on that final 10 games and seeing if we can get ourselves into the playoffs."
So what is the difference in the team? Why is it plugging along, mostly under the radar, with a league-low two losses?
One big difference has been the addition of veteran goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who took over for Dario Sala in April. Hartman, 36, joined Dallas just before training camp after he was unable to come to terms with Kansas City, where he had started every game over the previous three seasons. The 13-year MLS veteran came into a sticky situation, where the 35-year-old Sala had been the starter for four seasons, earned his spot as the No. 1 after just two games, and hasn't looked back since.
"What Kevin brings is his communication and leadership from the goalkeeper position, which is outstanding," Hyndman said. "We have players who are in the right position because Kevin is giving them the direction. That's something we weren't maybe getting from Dario."
With Hartman directing an improved back line, Dallas has surrendered just 17 goals in 20 games. Hartman has allowed just 11 of those while going 9-1-6 with a league-low .69 goals-against average.
The team is also getting an MVP-calibre season out of David Ferreira, who not only pulls the strings in the attacking zone, but has been scoring as well, as evidenced by his six goals and eight assists.
"David Ferreira, in my opinion, is one of the best players in the league," Hyndman said. "He continues to find ways to be a difference maker, either scoring or assisting on goals. By the way, he is also the most fouled player in the league."
The Hoops continue to add depth as well, picking up Colombian forward Milton Rodriguez during the summer transfer window, which allows them to bring in speedy veteran Jeff Cunningham late in games.
The emergence of 20-year-old left winger Brek Shea, taking some of the pressure off the middle of the field, is just icing on the proverbial cake at this point.
"It's been a challenge, it's taken longer than I thought it would," Hyndman said of the club's recent success. "It's a pretty tough job whether you are winning or not winning, to be honest with you."
As tough as things have been to this point, it appears it is about to get tougher down the stretch, starting with the Hoops putting their road unbeaten run on the line on Saturday at Eastern table-leading Columbus.
"Right now I'm looking at our next 10 games and we play on the road this Saturday against Columbus," Hyndman said. "Any team that goes into Columbus is going to have a war because they are so hard to beat there."
Dallas also closes out its last 10 games at RSL and Los Angeles, the two teams ahead of it in the West, in October.
"We have some road matches coming up that are going to be tough tests," Hyndman said.
On top of that, the team has home matches against Eastern powers New York and Chicago.
"The key is the results. At this level you are being measured on one thing and one thing only, and that's results," Hyndman said.
And for the first time since he took over FC Dallas, Hyndman is delivering just that, results.