FRISCO, Texas — Schellas Hyndman and FC Dallas certainly found success in 2011, competing deep into the US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League while qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs. But they couldn’t meet the lofty standards they set in 2010 in their run to the MLS Cup final.
After navigating through an impactful injury to David Ferreira and a club record 48-game schedule, Dallas were unable to recreate their postseason magic, stumbling down the stretch en route to a Wild Card exit at the hands of New York.
MLSsoccer.com sat down with Hyndman to discuss the season, the challenges they faced and get a glimpse into what is expected next season.
MLSsoccer.com: How did Ferreira’s season injury affect the team and change the season?
Hyndman: He’s arguably the best player in the league – the MVP last year. He’s a player that makes things happen for us. Whenever things get tough, players always look to get David the ball because they know that something positive is going to happen out of it.
When he got hurt in April, I was really proud of the guys that they went through the game and came back from one down to win the game against Vancouver. And then we really got on a good run. I think players really took it serious that they had to raise their own personal level. I thought we really did better than we probably expected to do without a player like David.
MLSsoccer.com: What specifically allowed the team to overcome the injury?
Hyndman: I think there were a couple things. Kevin Hartman played very well in goal. I think our defense was solid. I think we ended up with 13 shutouts. I think Ricardo Villar stepped up. He was the player that we started to get the ball to, taking some of the responsibility. And then you have to look at Brek Shea, who ended up with 11 goals this year. We had to find somebody that could replace those goals, and Brek was the player that did it.
MLSsoccer.com: The team played 14 more games this year than it did in 2010. What was the greatest challenge in playing so many games?
Hyndman: The tired legs and the injuries. We had two players that had meniscus tears and neither of them could leave the team because we didn’t have the depth. And don’t ever underestimate the difficulty of travel. I read somewhere that we did an additional 12,000 miles. The thing was always having either a pregame training or recovery day training.
I think we went three months with only three or four days of quality training and didn’t realize how much that really affected us. We started recognizing it when we started adding new players to our roster. The first time I worked with Maicon Santos as a striker was probably six weeks after he was here.
MLSsoccer.com: How do you think you did in managing the team’s workload?
Hyndman: Part of the season, there were some things that we couldn’t control. There were injuries to key players – fatigue, heavy legs and mental fatigue. We had the whole thing with George John going to Blackburn. That was another issue that was up in the air. Then we had Bobby Rhine pass away. When you look back at the season, it’s like “Wow, all of that happened in one year.” There are some things you couldn’t manage, but I think I probably could have done a better job of managing the rotation of players.
MLSsoccer.com: You have a number of Academy players occupying roster spots. Do you expect more out of these guys heading into next season?
Hyndman: Yeah, we do. If they’re going to pick up a paycheck and be part of this team and be on the roster, they’ve got to get better. It’s one thing to say they’re young, but you look at Fabián Castillo and he’s the same age. I think there are going to be some serious conversations.
MLSsoccer.com: With rumors floating about the possible transfer of Shea and John, does that affect how you approach the offseason?
Hyndman: First of all, it’s a big statement to any player that’s getting called into the national team or drawing interest from Europe, so hats off to them. The approach we take is that FC Dallas believes in the American players and the Home Grown player and developing our youth. Brek Shea came in when he was 17, now he’s a player that’s starting to get more attention, which is great for him.
For our league to get better, we need the best American players to stay here. I think Jurgen Klinsmann has come out publically and said, “If you are going to go to Europe, then you better be playing.” We’ve seen a lot of players go to Europe and they’re traded or they’re not finding success. But here, Brek has been fantastic for us this year. He’s a finalist for the MVP of the league.
MLSsoccer.com: Your team had trouble producing goals from the forward position. What’s the plan heading into 2011?
Hyndman: It’s not just the forward position. Let’s call it the strike force. Our leading goal scorer is Brek Shea with 11. When you look at our midfield, on the right side you have Marvin Chávez with six, Maicon Santos has two, Daniel Cruz has one and Villar with zero. This is our strike force. For us to find success, our strike force has to find more goals.
I would love for Brek Shea to score 11, but I think a striker should be scoring 11. They’re the ones in front of the goal who aren’t doing all that running back and forth. Brek stepped up for David. If David were on the field, I think he would have had eight to 12 goals. It’s a strike force getting a little more production, better quality services and better opportunities on second balls.
MLSsoccer.com: Have the preparations already begun for the draft and international player signings?
Hyndman: That process is never-ending. Obviously, the colleges have a very small window to the college season. In fact, all of my assistants are out right now looking at college games – conference games. I’ll be going. That process is going to come to a head with the combine and the draft. Barry Gorman has really focused all his time on the college game, so we’re talking a lot with agents. The one area we are very active and interested in is league trades.