When FC Dallas midfielder Brek Shea takes the field for his team’s wild card match against the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night (9 pm ET, FOX Soccer/TSN 2), it will be his 44th game this season between MLS, the CONCACAF Champions League and the US national team.
If he were tired heading into the playoffs, he could be forgiven. But his head coach, Schellas Hyndman, isn’t seeing it.
“I think we’re going to see a rebound,” Hyndman said during a media conference call on Tuesday of Shea’s performance. “We were able to leave him at home and give him a little bit of a break. He had an injured neck, so we kept him out of the San Jose game [last Saturday]. His attitude right now is very, very strong. ... He can’t wait for the game. Mentally, he’s probably better than he’s been for the last two months.”
Shea isn’t the only player on the squad who’s had a difficult schedule in 2011. FCD have played in 47 games across all competitions this season, and the wear and tear began to show as they lost eight of their last 12 games.
“Coach gave us time off to get prepared for this game [against New York],” Shea said. “I think it helped a lot of the players. We’ve had a lot of games.”
FCD’s most recent game against the Red Bulls ended in a frustrating 1-0 loss at Pizza Hut Park. A Shea-less Dallas outshot New York 18-7 on the night while maintaining nearly 60 percent of possession.
The result spurred New York to a 4-2-1 record down the stretch to clinch the 10th and final playoff berth.
“I think the team is excited to play Red Bull,” Shea said. “We don’t want an easy game. They’re a very good team. I think it’s going to be a hard game, but I think coach believes and the team believes that we’ll come out on top.”
Added Hyndman, “I know we’re a good team. We wouldn’t have 52 points if we were not a good team.”
Despite suffering a foot injury in Dallas’ CCL loss to Toronto FC last week, Ricardo Villar should probably be ready to go on Wednesday against the Red Bulls, according to Hyndman.
The Brazilian midfielder has filled in for an injured David Ferreira this season after the 2010 MVP broke his ankle in April. Hyndman said that Villar “has really done a good job for us,” but made it equally clear that he wasn’t at the same level of his sidelined teammate.
“The area we keep trying to get more out of him is becoming more of a scoring threat,” the FCD coach said. “There are games Ricardo doesn’t get a shot off; the majority of games he gets one shot off. He’s yet to score a goal. ... He’s a high level player, a good reader of the game, a good passer of the ball. He’s a great connector to our lone striker. But production-wise, in the position he’s playing, he’s got to be able to bring a little bit more.”
Villar has just six shots on goal in 23 games, 14 of which are starts. In Ferreira's six games before his injury this season, he put five shots on goal and scored three times.