FRISCO, Texas — Game after game, FC Dallas defender Zach Loyd takes hits from opposing teams. And game after game, he gets back up.
In only his second year out of the University of North Carolina, Loyd epitomizes the player that head coach Schellas Hyndman wants on his team.
“He’s everything every coach wants,” Hyndman said after a recent training session. “He shows up every day for practice and gives 100 percent. He’s a player that battles every ball, he’s courageous, great attitude, he’s a complete team player — the team always comes first.”
Earlier in the season, Loyd suffered a shin contusion during a scrimmage in training and worked even harder to get himself back on the field so he could help out his teammates.
“Every game is really physical here, so everyone takes their bumps and bruises,” Loyd said. “But we have a great training staff and they’re on top of everything this year.”
Loyd’s 5-foot-10, almost 170-pound frame of muscle and determination is something that the 24-year-old has worked to improve since being drafted fifth overall in the 2010 SuperDraft.
He has taken the advice of trainers from the Michael Johnson Performance Center to bring his body up to speed with the demands of MLS. Each month, FCD players receive a specific program from trainers to complement their month’s slate of games.
Combine the advice of nutritionists (“Red meat is kind of hard on your muscles,” Loyd says) trainers and medical staffers, and with the motivational expertise of Hyndman, it’s easy to see the 90 minutes of work that Loyd and company put in each game.
“Coach put that in us that it doesn’t matter how skillful you are, if you can’t match the work rate of the other team, it’s not even going to matter,” said Loyd. “Our team mentality for every game is that we are going to come in and work just as hard or harder than the other team.”
And working hard on a consistent basis is the name of Loyd’s game.
A year after playing the third-most minutes for a player taken in the 2010 SuperDraft, the Oklahoma native has started 17 of the teams 20 games in 2011 and has even gotten into the attack, scoring his first career goal against Portland in June to go with his two assists on the year.
“When you look at what an American athlete is in any sport, he’s that guy,” said Hyndman. “He’s outstanding.”
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @FCDallasBeatGuy