Though hyped as a draft full of attacking players, FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman had one item atop his list heading into Thursday’s SuperDraft: a center back.
With the team’s lone selection in the first round, the club did exactly that.
FC Dallas selected center back Matt Hedges out of the University of North Carolina with the 11th overall pick, helping solve some issues as the club looks ahead into 2012.
“He’s a good player and he’s got good size,” Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com by phone from the SuperDraft. “He reminds me a lot of George John when we drafted him, so hopefully we get the same kind of response from him.”
The 6-foot-4 center back earned first team All-American honors in his senior season with the Tar Heels, anchoring a defense that surrendered only two NCAA Tournament goals en route to a national title.
Many touted the senior as the top center back in the draft, and Hyndman was thrilled to see him remaining with Dallas on the clock.
“We were really surprised,” said Hyndman. “Coming into the draft, I thought he was probably a top-six pick.”
While center back was the top priority entering the draft, the club also had their eyes on a few attacking players. Jackson, who was slated to start the season at right midfield, is reportedly close to signing with Brazilian side Cruzeiro, leaving a gaping hole in the midfield.
“There was a lot of discussion about Ethan Finlay, who went just before us to Columbus,” Hyndman said of the Creighton striker. "That would have been a real difficult decision for us, but we had Hedges rated higher.”
The team has also yet to find an experienced backup for newly acquired Blas Pérez at forward, but Hyndman revealed that a separate transaction is in the works.
“As far as [Chandler] Hoffman or [Collin] Rolfe or other attacking players go, we worked awfully hard to get Blas Pérez in and we’re close to signing another player up front,” Hyndman said. “We didn’t want to bring in a player in a position that we might not need.”
Hedges will join the team primarily to provide cover should injuries occur or players depart, but Hyndman believes the 21-year-old has the talent to contribute in MLS.
“He’s athletic enough and he’s strong enough,” Hyndman said. “Can he mark Brian Ching or Conor Casey? There are things we just don’t know, so we’re going to have to gradually experiment with it and see how he does.”
WATCH: Matt Hedges speaks with MLSsoccer.com