The numbers don’t lie. FC Dallas have not allowed a goal in 225 and come off back-to-back clean sheets against DC United and Houston. For head coach Schellas Hyndman, who preached the virtues of team defense almost since taking the reins in June 2008, it is good to see his team buying into that philosophy.
“It’s something I think is a priority for good players and teams to play on both sides of the ball,” said Hyndman. “They’re buying into it more for two reasons. One, they’re starting to see the end result: a victory or a good play. Two, I think it’s different personnel that are willing to buy into it. We’ve had trouble with that in the past.”
Hyndman’s players clearly agree.
“I don’t think it’s all just buying into it, I think we bought into it,” midfielder Brek Shea said. “It’s more that everyone is starting to play for each other instead of just being out there. You could see in the Houston game that people were diving in front of the ball, sacrificing their body. We’re starting to come together as a team.”
Center back Ugo Ihemelu sees that mentality starting up front with the forwards.
“You hear defending is a team thing,” said the Nigerian defender. “It starts up front and works its way to the back. You see David Ferreira and Jeff [Cunningham] defending, and those are our attacking guys. They’re working the whole game to help us out defensively. It’s paying off. Schellas has been pushing that defensive style since preseason and it’s paid off for us the last two games.”
Even goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who has been with FCD for just over two months, has already noticed a huge change in the team’s entire defensive mindset.
“When I first arrived, I was amazed at how anxious we were to get forward and with such great numbers,” Hartman said.
However, the FCD keeper has seen some big differences over the last two games.
“One of the things that really opened my eyes was, when we went up 1-0 in Houston, the shape we took and how defensively sound we were for the final 10-15 minutes, I thought it was splendid,” said Hartman, who also saw the entire team carry that performance onto a 1-0 win at home over DC United last week.
“I also thought we played against a really disciplined DC United team. We had to play in front of them quite a bit and had to keep the ball and make sure we didn’t turn it over,” he said. “We still remained confident and believed in what it was that we were doing. [We] just continued to plug away and were able to pick up the goal.”
FCD will look for a third straight win and clean sheet tomorrow, when they face Philadelphia in an afternoon tilt at Lincoln Financial Field.