FRISCO, Texas — As summertime hits its stride and the MLS season finds itself at the halfway point, talk around the league burgeons into discussion of the Supporters' Shield, awarded to the league’s best team during the regular season.
FC Dallas, who currently sit two points behind the LA Galaxy for the best record in MLS, have won nine of their past 13 matches and are in prime position to make a push for their first regular-season title.
“The Supporters' Shield will be a target for us if we can continue on this run,” head coach Schellas Hyndman said, “but right now I think we are talking a little too early about it.”
The Shield was a topic of conversation with FC Dallas in 2010 when they ran through a 19-game unbeaten streak before eventually falling to Colorado in the MLS Cup. With an eight-game slate in July ahead of them and six of the next nine games on the road, center back Ugo Ihemelu says the team is trying to keep it in perspective.
“It’s a long season and we’re off to a good start ,” said the MLS veteran, “but … right now our No. 1 priority is to make it to the playoffs.”
Since dropping three of their first five matches to begin the season, FC Dallas have only lost once — a hiccup of a game to a rising Sporting Kansas City squad in mid-June.
With the Galaxy tying four of their last five games, FCD have managed to close the gap to just two points by winning four of their last five.
“We don’t talk about the Supporters' Shield but now all of a sudden it’s becoming a topic,” Hyndman said. “Let’s get to the playoffs. Let's be one of those top three teams. Now once we get to the playoffs, let’s win an MLS Cup.”
Ihemelu noted that thoughts of the Shield have been floating around the FCD locker room, but he also mentioned that Hyndman is keeping the players on an even keel. FC Dallas are set to begin an important stretch of games in the next three weeks that includes trips to Real Salt Lake, Toronto and New York, and they need to retain their focus.
“I think Schellas would love to win,” said Ihemelu. “But I think he knows right now he wants the playoffs more and that’s what we are going for.”
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @FCDallasBeatGuy