Schellas XI: FC Dallas set to head south of the border
FRISCO, Texas — In our weekly series featuring Schellas Hyndman, the FC Dallas head coach addresses 11 topics in brief including Kevin Hartman’s latest record, the CONCACAF Champions League and Mexican powerhouse Pumas UNAM.
I. First off, in a 2-2 draw against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park last Saturday, goalkeeper Kevin Hartman became the all-time leader in career MLS starts with 373.
“The new record is fantastic for Kevin. He is on top of his game and he continues to make our defense look good.”
II. Hartman made two saves on Danny Mwanga and Keon Daniel as the game neared stoppage time to seal the draw in FC Dallas’ first visit to PPL Park.
“In regard to his probably extended-time save when Mwanga went through and hit the shot, reflex save — those are difference-makers.”
III. Fast-forward three days and FC Dallas are currently in Mexico City before their CONCACAF Champions League group play match against Pumas UNAM, a team about which FC Dallas are still learning.
“We didn’t have much on them. We just know that they are the one of the best teams in Mexico.”
IV-V. FC Dallas collected video of each of their Group C opponents and prepared to sit down and discuss Pumas tactics in the 24 hours leading up to the game.
“The division has been broken down so we will have an opportunity to see them on the video and what we want is just some tendencies: what they do on their free kicks, how they hold their strikers to the ball and then how they defend corner kicks and free kicks.”
VI. The team will have to prepare for the CCL without new forward Maicon Santos, after he was ruled ineligible.
“Unfortunately Maicon fell into the category of being on the roster for Toronto as [Eric Avila] is on the roster for Dallas, so neither will be competing.”
VII. However, slotting into Santos' space will be Fabián Castillo, who is meeting the team in Mexico City following his stint with the Colombian Under-20s in the World Cup.
“We’ve missed him for six weeks and we need more and more depth on our team as people are starting to get tired.”
VIII. Even with Hyndman calling Wednesday’s showdown one of the biggest matches in FC Dallas history, there is the need to rest players for future fixtures.
“We’re also trying to get some other players on the field, so we are hoping that we can find ways to relieve players' stress and body strength.”
IX. The mission is simple for Hyndman and company: Become the first MLS team to win on Mexican soil in the league's 25th attempt.
“We hope to get ourselves into a situation where we can find success.”
X. While center back George John won’t be available for Saturday’s home game against the Seattle Sounders due to a red-card suspension, he will hold the backline down against Pumas.
“We’d like him to be able to go the full 90 [Wednesday] and the full 90 on Saturday. At the end of the day we don’t have enough depth in our defense.”
XI. With John available, FC Dallas will be ready to go against arguably the best team in the regional club tournament.
“You’re never glad about meeting the strongest competition in the first game and on the road. But you know we have to play them at some time, so let’s go down there after two good results with Alianza.”
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached on Twitter: @robertmcasner