FRISCO, Texas — For the entire 2010 season, Atiba Harris has done things for FC Dallas that don’t always show up on the stat sheet. In 26 games, the midfielder from St. Kitts has three goals and two assists.
Now that FCD clinched a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2007 after a 3-0 win over Chicago on Saturday, Harris can bring one more thing to the team: playoff experience.
The right midfielder is one of three FCD players with playoff experience. Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman leads the way with 44 games in the postseason. Midfielder Daniel Hernandez boasts 18 playoff games under his belt, ‘keeper Dario Sala has four and Harris one.
“I think it’s pretty important,” FCD coach Schellas Hyndman said of the playoff experience in the squad. “What I preach to the players is that every game this season has been a playoff environment. I think that’s because I put my will on them and the pressure on them and they get out there and perform. We play teams and they say that felt like a playoff game."
“Well, we’re bringing it. If you want to compete with us, you’d better bring it too.”
Harris’ lone playoff appearance came in 2008 for Chivas USA when he started one game against Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
“The intensity [is what I remember]. The intensity level goes up,” the FCD midfielder said. “You can feel the sense of urgency on everything. Everyone is trying not to make a mistake because it’s more important. If you make one mistake, it could be over.”
This years’ trip to the playoffs will be the Hoops’ first since 2007, but FCD came within a point of a postseason berth last year. No such heartbreak this year for Harris and his teammates.
“I wish it was last year but this year, we got rewarded. We lost two games all year and set a whole bunch of different records,” Harris said. “I’m just happy we made it to the playoffs. Hopefully we’ll win it.”