CCL Preview: FC Dallas set to host upstart Alianza FC
FRISCO, Texas — FC Dallas returned to Pizza Hut Park for training Tuesday morning in preparation for the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League play-in match against Salvadoran side Alianza FC on Wednesday night (8 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
Up 1-0 on the visiting side, FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman knows that los Albos are a dangerous squad regardless of the score line.
“We’ve seen them. They’re technical, they’re quick,” said Hyndman. “They realize they have to score a goal, so they’re going to be putting a lot of energy into the attack.”
Even with the away goal on Alianza, Hyndman says his team won’t put 10 men behind the ball and play passive soccer.
“We’re not a team that’s going to sit back,” Hyndman stated. “We haven’t been a team that ever sits back and been successful with it. We are going to try to play our normal game and think the game is at 0-0.”
If FC Dallas tie or win Wednesday night, it will be the first time in team history they’ve advance to the region’s most important international club competition.
“It’s probably the most important game of our season so far,” said veteran central defender Ugo Ihemelu.
But all of the talk about reaching the Champions League Group C draw — where a team like Mexican powerhouse Pumas UNAM awaits — won’t mean anything if FC Dallas don’t finish off the pesky and talented Alianza in the return leg of CCL qualifying.
“If we don’t take care of business tomorrow, then all the talk about making history and being in the international tournament is for nothing,” said captain Daniel Hernandez, who will return to the pitch after sitting out Sunday’s game against Chivas USA. “I know we have a 1-0 lead coming in here at home, but by no means is it going to be an easy game. I know they are going to come out and try to win the game.”
Alianza used free kicks as a means to try and score their goals in the first leg, something both Hyndman and Ihemelu spoke about after training.
“They’re the type of team that dives a lot,” the center back said. “They go down easy and they try to get the referee on their side, so they are going to be dangerous.”
Hyndman provided a free kick demonstration to his players on Tuesday to make his team aware of the dangerous situations that they may face.
With Ricardo Villar and Hernandez standing over the ball 20 yards away from goal and several FCD players forming a wall, Hyndman had the rest of his team stand behind the goal and see how the goalkeeper is blinded from the ball by the defensive wall.
The ensuing free kick was a goal from Villar and Hyndman knows that defending the set pieces will be vital to FCD’s success.
“Their strengths are on free kicks, and we want to stay away from giving those,” the manager said. "I think they’re very, very — like us — focused on this game."
Hyndman added that both Cristian Castillo and Herbert Sosa of Alianza gave FC Dallas trouble in the midfield in their first-ever head-to-head matchup in San Salvador, but says his team is ready for the challenge.
“The coaches are motivated, the players are motivated,” said Hyndman. “The players realize the historic moment for us with Alianza.”
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @FCDallasBeatGuy