FRISCO, Texas – After Thursday night’s 2-2 draw with Inter Milan, FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman has shifted focus to the match against the Philadelphia Union at Pizza Hut Park as FCD continue to push for their first postseason berth since 2007.
With temperatures on Sunday expected to be 100 degrees or higher, Hyndman sees the heat as being a factor in whether or not Philadelphia are able to stick to the same physical style that took FCD out of their previous meeting, a 1-1 draw back in May.
“They’ll play hard, come after us and try to impose their style,” Hyndman said. “But I think the weather will keep them from doing it for the full 90. What we have to do is play soccer. We’re a team that’s pretty resilient. If things don’t go our way, we still believe they will go our way. I think we’re a team that’s playing well.”
Two starters from Thursday's match, center back George John and right back Heath Pearce, played the full 90 against Inter Milan. They are expected to also start on Sunday and Hyndman admits he isn’t too concerned with either player not being ready.
“I think the concern would be if they had picked up any knocks," Hyndman said. "The concern is what the heat has done to [John and Pearce]. It’s one thing to play two games a week when the weather is 72 degrees, it’s another to play in this kind of heat and try to bounce back for another game.
"The thing that satisfies me is I know Philadelphia had a game [on Thursday]. They lost at home 2-1 [vs. Columbus], so they put all their energy into that game. They’ll be just as tired as we will be.”
Ihemelu Contains Eto’o
Starting center back Ugo Ihemelu handled one of the tougher assignments of his professional career when he drew Inter striker Samuel Eto’o on Thursday. The Cameroon forward did clank one off the left post in the first half but, for the most part, Ihemelu limited the Cameroonian's chances.
Eto’o did find the back of the net in the second half, but that was only after Ihemelu had come off the field.
“I think he’s one of the better defenders in the United States,” Hyndman said of Ihemelu. “I’m really surprised he hasn’t had more opportunities with the national team because he’s athletic, quick, strong, courageous and he’s [marked] one of the best players in the world. ... I don’t think you saw [Eto'o] outrun him once. He’s tremendous.”
Ihemelu didn’t go through the full recovery session on Friday, something his coach called precautionary.
“He’s had a little bit of a strained groin for the last three or four weeks," Hyndman said. "We’ve been monitoring it and taking care of it.”
FCD Swap Meet
As is customary after international matches, there were jersey swaps after Thursday's match. FCD captain Daniel Hernandez switched with midfielder Esteban Cambiasso after the Argentine starter came to the locker room asking to swap shirts. FCD midfielder Brek Shea traded with Marco Materazzi.
But the big winner of the jersey sweepstakes was FCD goalkeeper Dario Sala, who came away with a total of eight different shirts. Included in Sala’s haul were jerseys belonging to Cambiasso, Eto’o and Diego Milito, who is also from Argentina.
Sala knows Milito and his brother, FC Barcelona defender Gabriel Milito, from their days in South America.