FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas have places to go and they want to get there fast.
We're not just talking about the five points they have to make up in the West playoff race with just five matches to go in the season. It's also manager Schellas Hyndman's new on-field approach for his team and it starts with Sunday's match against the Columbus Crew (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
“We’ve been doing training exercises to try and increase the speed of play,” Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “Speed of play is when you get the ball, you think forward, you look forward, you pass forward, you run forward, you are trying to get somewhere quickly.
“What we’re trying to do is set ourselves into a situation where we feel a little more comfortable doing that instead of just keeping possession, going side to side.”
This past week during training the coaches gave the players restrictions during scrimmages: narrowing the field, outlawing back passes or limiting the number of touches during passing or shooting drills. The exercises were designed to get the players to move the ball into the attacking third quickly and decisively.
Hyndman is not interested in simply dominating the possession stats. He wants possession with attacking purpose, with the end result being more quality chances created.
Attacking midfielder Mauro Diaz indicated that he and his teammates are focused on “trying to move the ball quicker upfield, trying to get the ball into the area quicker so we can have better opportunities to finish," he said through an interpreter. "If we get the ball into the 18-yard box, we’re going to have opportunities to score. That’s what we’re hoping for on Sunday.”
The young Designated Player has been used as a second-half substitute in the last four games, but looks to be in line for his third start since joining the club in July as Hyndman seeks to put the Crew on their heels with consistent attacking pressure.
Another player that could see his first action in over a month is Zach Loyd. The veteran fullback says he is fully recovered from the ACL sprain that has kept him off the field since August 11 vs. LA. However, he may be lining up in a relatively new position.
Loyd started at left back in FCD’s midweek Reserve League match against Toronto FC and trained in that position all week. Formerly a regular starter at right back, Loyd says he has no problem making the positional switch.
“I’ve played right and left back throughout my career, so I’m pretty comfortable on the left," he said. "I like being able to cut in onto my right and bend the ball towards the goal just because it’s easier for people to get on the end of it."
What he cares about most is helping to make Toyota Stadium a fortress during the last month of the 2013 season, starting with the match against the Crew.
“Every game is crucial now. The team has that sense of urgency this week,” Loyd said. “Everyone in the locker room knows how important the game this weekend is, especially being five points out. There is not really any room for errors anymore.”
Matt Barbour covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com.