ORLANDO, Fla. – Only days ago, things were looking bleak for FC Dallas ahead of their 2012 season.
“Believe me, a week ago I was going, ‘Oh man, we’re going to have a tough year,’” FCD manager Schellas Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com on Saturday night after his club tied Swedish side BK Häcken 1-1 at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic.
The absences of key players due to international play, loan deals and injury led to disjointed play and a realization that 2012 might very well prove a struggle.
Until Saturday night’s match.
FCD playmaker David Ferreira, whose teammates still believed would miss several more months of recovery from a fractured ankle, shocked his own club by playing the full 90 minutes against the Swedes. It came after he played just 22 minutes in his first game back last Wednesday against the US Under-23s.
Hyndman continually checked in with this No. 10 throughout Saturday match but the Colombian did not want to come out and his manager obliged. And an FC Dallas team that had seemingly lost its way finally got its groove back. That's no understatement.
“Even against the U-23s [last Wednesday], guys didn’t know where to go and the rhythm wasn’t there,” said FCD captain Daniel Hernandez. “But I think we showed that rhythm tonight. It was huge to see David play 90 minutes and finally getting used to playing with each other again and feeling comfortable.”
Added Hyndman, “It’s been a big improvement in a week and the big improvement has been David Ferreira. I thought he was the difference-maker for our calmness that we could find him. You could see his work rate is still really good and every time he gets hit, the confidence is building.”
The orchestra was back to playing in tune because the conductor, though admittedly at less than 100 percent, was present on the field. And more importantly, Ferreira’s return allowed Hyndman’s men to get back to what they knew best.
“We’d been really working a lot on a 4-4-2 because we didn’t know if David was even going to come back,” Hyndman revealed. “So today when I said, ‘Boys, we’re going to go back to what FC Dallas does [4-1-4-1 formation]’, I think they all felt comfortable with that.”
So much so that the MLS team dominated their Swedish counterparts in the first half, controlling possession and dictating the pace of the match. And although Ferreira’s “killer pass” will need more time to develop as his balance and game fitness progress, he played an important part.
“Yes, yes, yes, I’ve noticed the change [in the team]. You see everyone is happier,” Ferreira told MLSsoccer.com. “I have to continue to get better. This was only my second game in 10 months and I think it went well. … The most important thing is that I felt better minute after minute.”
Ferreira’s special day overshadowed standout performances by center back Hernan Pertuz, right back Zach Loyd and goal scorer Fabián Castillo, who impressed Hyndman with the maturity he displayed at his right wing position.
“I think from what we saw today David Ferreira looked like the old [David Ferreira] and you could see how everyone else’s level rises,” Hyndman said. “I thought we played better than my expectation.”
“Today was a big day,” said Hernandez, who led a player-only meeting on the field near the team’s bench that lasted well after the final whistle.
It was opportune. FC Dallas had become a team again.