FRISCO, Texas — FC Dallas knew coming into their Western Conference showdown with the Seattle Sounders that they would be without strongman George John in the center of defense, but they weren't really expecting to lose John’s replacement, Zach Loyd, as well.
Minutes after Mauro Rosales scored the game's only goal in Seattle's 1-0 win at Pizza Hut Park on Saturday, Loyd (pictured above, right) went down in the box with what is being called a hamstring injury, forcing head coach Schellas Hyndman to play his creative cards.
“When Zach went out it was really hard to find someone to go into center back,” Hyndman admitted. “There’s a lot of things that have been talked about George John and a whole bunch of stuff that is going on, but I think you saw our team missing him.”
John has been the subject of transfer speculation recently, with the 24-year-old being linked to English Premier team Blackburn Rovers. However, he missed Saturday's match because of a one-game suspension.
After Loyd’s injury, Hyndman sent right back Jackson Goncalves to center back and put recently arrived Jeremy Hall into the game at right back.
“Kind of quick turn around for me,” said Hall, who joined Dallas from the Portland Timbers on Friday. “I got in here last night and wasn’t really expecting to play, but I got called in, so I had to go in there and do the best I could.”
Hyndman said he spoke to Hall for five minutes before the game, giving him a “chalkboard talk” in case he entered the game. Little did they know that Hall would be needed halfway through the first period, so Hyndman’s message to Hall was brief and to the point.
“He told me to go play,” continued Hall. “He’s seen me play before—that’s why they brought me in. They know what I can do, so no excuses.”
Said Hyndman: “I give him a lot of credit for adjusting immediately to the game. I think you can see if you don’t have any depth in your defense, it’s going to be dicey for you.”
After having John at center back for all but one game this season, Dallas tried two different players at the position for the 90 minutes, which shrunk Hall's adjustment period to zero.
But for Ugo Ihemelu – who took responsibility for the turnover that led to Rosales goal – the back line must begin meshing immediately.
“It comes down to communication defensively and trusting the guy beside you, and we are going to have to build that trust and get an understanding as quick as possible because the games will keep coming,” he said.
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached on Twitter: @robertmcasner