HOUSTON – They’re banged up and struggling in the standings and on the field.
But when you’re forced to field a lineup missing seven starters because of injury, even the little things have a way of becoming positives for Schellas Hyndman. And the FC Dallas boss was mostly pleased on Saturday despite a 2-1 defeat at Houston – especially with the way his team responded after conceding in just the third minute of the match.
HIGHLIGHTS: Houston 2, FC Dallas 1
“Sometimes teams seem to relax a little bit when they get scored on and they’re losing,” Hyndman told reporters after Saturday’s match. “All of a sudden, the fear of getting scored on is no longer there. It’s now a bit of, ‘Hey, we need to get a goal,’ and I thought that’s what happened to us today. After we got scored on, I thought guys regrouped and were able to move the ball around.”
Indeed, Dallas controlled the run of play for most of the first half against the Dynamo. And at the heart of that success was the combination of speedy wingers Fabián Castillo and Jackson (above). While their presence hasn’t been felt as much as Hyndman would like in many matches this season, FCD’s South American connection was certainly apparent in Saturday’s affair and that was very much by design.
“Our game plan was getting Castillo and Jackson one-on-one isolated, and I thought we created some really good chances but weren’t able to put the ball in the goal,” Hyndman said. “The second half comes around and we get a goal and then we were doing some good things. … Take away the record, but look what’s on the field, and I thought we got everything we could out of the players.”
The head coach reserved special praise for his enigmatic Brazilian midfielder Jackson. Jackson, recalled from a loan spell with Brazilian side Cruzeiro in April, was easily Dallas’ best player on the evening, registering four shots and his first goal of the season.
“I thought he was excellent,” said Hyndman. “I think Jackson was one of the best players on the field. He worked on both sides of the ball, scored a goal and saved one off the line. I don’t know how you can get more out of a player.”
With a crucial three-game home stand coming up that could make or break Dallas’ season, Saturday’s performance, despite the result, is something the team can build on as they try to claw their way back into the MLS Cup Playoffs picture.