SAN JOSE, Calif. – With only about half the FC Dallas starting XI making the trip to San Jose, theories could begin circling about the team’s desire to beat the Earthquakes on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) – and maybe even playing for the loss that could send them on a wild card path to the “easier” Eastern Conference playoff bracket.
But for head coach Schellas Hyndman, that’s a ludicrous idea.
“I really don’t have the time to deal with that,” Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com prior to his team’s light training session on Friday. “I don’t have the time to think of if we’d rather be [in the East] or [in the West], or third or fourth. All I’ve ever done is have the guys show up and give their best.”
Instead, the reason for leaving key guys like Kevin Hartman, Brek Shea and Marvin Chávez behind and only bringing George John, Zach Loyd, Jair Benítez, Daniel Cruz and Maicon Santos among the 18 for Saturday’s regular-season finale is simple:
“It’s what we have available,” Hyndman said. “These guys [who did travel] aren’t injured, not banged up.”
FCD come to San Jose bruised, battered and just plain tired. It’s been an exhausting year so far for the Texan club, which has battled on three fronts – MLS, US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League – and waged a couple of international friendlies to boot.
“The game against San Jose will be our 47th game this year,” Hyndman pointed out. “Last year, we played a total of 34 games, and that was with the MLS Cup final. So it’s been a really taxing season.”
FCD are still reeling from their midweek 3-0 CCL loss to Toronto FC that saw them eliminated from the tournament. But with the MLS Cup playoffs just around the corner, Dallas will play for the win to lift their spirits, even if it the outcome ends up not affecting their finish in the standings.
“Losing against Toronto at home definitely took a bit of wind out of our sails,” said John, who went all 90 minutes in that match. “It was a huge disappointment. We just didn’t show up to play. [So against San Jose], we’re gonna be up for it. A lot of our guys are at home resting, but at the same time, we always intend to play our best and win the game, so that’s what we’re gonna try to do tomorrow.”
Good time to evaluate
With the MLS Cup playoffs around the corner, Saturday’s game will be a good measuring stick for Hyndman and his coaching staff to gauge some of his players.
On Friday, Hyndman singled out some of those he would like to see step up to the plate against the Quakes, including former Philadelphia goalkeeper Chris Seitz and Designated Player Fabián Castillo.
Seitz, who was picked up by FCD via trade before the start of the season, will be making his season debut against San Jose.
“It’s something that I’ve obviously been working for all season,” Seitz said after training on Friday. “I’ve been working really hard. To get an opportunity in any league game is a great honor, so I’ll be looking to be at my best. I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Said Hyndman, “I think it’s a very important game for him. You’re go on the road, you don’t have your normal back four and you’re a goalie that hasn’t played a lot this year. There’s a lot of pressure on Chris. But he’s worked so hard this year, so this is another opportunity to evaluate him.”
As for Castillo, the Colombia youth international has failed to regain his starting spot on the team since returning from the U-20 World Cup.
“This game is for the coach to see which players can show up,” Castillo said. “We know we’re in the playoffs and it’ll be important for the coach to evaluate all the players. ... It’ll be an important game for me. It’s these types of games in which players can claim a starting spot.”
John mum on EPL rumors
Recent reports surfaced that Premier sides Everton and Wigan were interested in the big FCD defender, who was pursued by Blackburn earlier this year before the deal fell through.
John, however, refused to talk about the rumors with MLSsoccer.com on Friday.
“No comment," he said. "I’m focused on San Jose tomorrow and that’s it.”