Business as usual

FCD players react to new CBA

FRISCO, Texas---On
Monday morning, it was business as usual for FC Dallas as Schellas Hyndman’s
club trained for nearly two hours in preparation for Saturday’s season opener
with Houston. However, at one point last week, it looked like any MLS activity
this week could be in jeopardy since the players and league had yet to agree on
a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

But
late last week, the two sides found some middle ground and struck a new
five-year deal. It’s a safe bet that every member of Hyndman’s roster is happy
that their season opener with the Dynamo will take place as planned.

“I
think a lot of guys are, and a lot of guys in the front office and everything
are really appreciative that we got to a deal and that the season is able to go
forward,” FCD defender Ugo Ihemelu said after training. "Now we can just move
past that and look forward to the season. We don’t have to worry about people
losing jobs or anything like that.”

The
veteran defender is FCD’s player representative and last week after his team
returned from a six-day trip to Tampa, he immediately caught another plane,
this one to Washington, DC as negotiations heated up.

“It
was pretty intense to be honest. Some guys had taken red eye flights, so they
were kind of tired but everybody was focused on getting something done,”
Ihemelu said of the negotiations. “We knew it was really important and that it
would really affect a lot of people. Everybody was putting their heads together
trying to grind it out and figure out what we needed to do to get everything
figured out.”

Perez an unstoppable force for FC Dallas

FRISCO, Texas – Brek Shea may have been given the game ball Saturday night, but Blas Perez should receive his own award for the heart and determination he displayed on the field during FC Dallas' 2-1 victory over Montreal.

With FC Dallas facing a 1-0 deficit late in the second half, Perez knew he had to call his own number to make magic happen. In the 77th minute, Perez headed the ball in the back of the net after George John was denied by the crossbar.

“It was a little bit of luck when the rebound came from the top post. I was in a very tight space, but I was able to define and put the ball in the net,” Perez said. “That was the goal that gave us the motivation and the energy to come back and to get the result.”

Shea scored the game-winner in the 88th minute, but it was Perez that started the FC Dallas rally. The Panamanian striker wreaked havoc in the second half after FC Dallas head coach made the switch from a 4-4-2 to 4-1-4-1 after halftime- making Perez the lone striker up top.

 

 

“In the beginning of the game, the team was distracted by the two forwards and the impact of the wind,” Perez said. “Coach realized that we would be way more effective by having Fabian [Castillo] and Brek on the wings and moving the formation to one striker. That proved to be the right decision. It changed the game.”

The equalizer was Perez’s third goal of the season. In just his first season with FC Dallas, he leads the teams in both goals scored and assists. Perez credits his hot start to the work ethic put in by the entire team but is not satisfied.

“Whenever I score a goal, it benefits the team,” Perez said. “I’m doing well so far, but there is still more work that we can do to understand each other better and to have better chemistry.”

With a tough three-game stretch to close out April looming, FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said Perez will continue to be relied upon and is impressed with the way his new striker has lifted this team.

“Think what the team would’ve been like if he would have been with us last year. We worked awfully hard to try to get him, and finally, it worked out,” Hyndman said. “What you see is a very intelligent player. He’s giving good balls off. He holds the ball very well. He’s strong in the air, and he’s got an unbelievable work ethic. When you get all of those qualities together, he’s a pretty special player.”

And
when asked how close the players came to striking, he offered a pretty frank
answer.

“Honestly,
guys were serious about it. The players felt like there really needed to be
some changes,” the FCD defender said. “The first day we got there, at the
beginning of the meetings, (Don) Garber came in and acknowledged that in some
things, players weren’t being treated fairly and there were certain situations
that were brought up that happened to certain senior players.

"Jeff Larentowicz
had a situation where he played out his contract and he wasn’t happy about
where he was. And there were older guys like Kevin Hartman who had put in time
in the league. Those were big issues and Garber did acknowledge that certain
things needed to be changed, but he also did state that the league was still
early in its growth and that they couldn’t give us all the changes we wanted.
They had to be controlled changes and something that would make the players
happy but at the same time, keep everything in order so the league can continue
to grow.”

Two
of his teammates also expressed their feelings about the new deal.

“It’s
interesting, some of the topics that we have broken through a little bit on
now. It’s great to see the growth. I think at the beginning of the league, we
took a lot more of a difficult approach by trying to sue all the time,” said
FCD goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, a 14-year league veteran. “I think that now that
we’ve got something in place, it shows the players are committed to the growth
of the league. I think that Don (Garber) did a great job of recognizing that.”

Hartman
also sees this agreement as setting a precedent.

“Hopefully, it’s something that in
the future will be a mutually beneficial agreement where they can pick our
brains about some stuff. For five years now, we don’t have to worry about going
through what we’ve gone through the past year-and-a-half in terms of the
negotiation process and the preparation for that,” he said.

“We’re obviously
optimistic about it. I haven’t seen the finalized things yet because I decided
to stay here and train because I needed the work after my long off-season. I
look forward to seeing how everything is implemented, but have a ton of respect
for the guys that helped with that. I thought the guys within the union showed
a ton of union and solidarity. That’s something that really went a long way in
terms of getting it done.”

FCD
midfielder Dax McCarty was equally pleased that the two sides agreed to
favorable terms.

“Obviously,
the most important thing is that an agreement was reached and we can start the
season on time. I don’t think anybody from the league and players wanted a work
stoppage,” McCarty said. “When you have these types of things, it happens in
every sport and it was necessary. The players were unified and strong.

"I don’t
know all the details of the CBA yet but it seems like we got a good amount of
things we wanted. It seems like the league kept hold of the single-entity
structure for the most part. I think both sides are pretty happy with the deal,
and now we can just go out there and play.”

However,
in the end, he realizes who benefits the most from the new deal.

“We
(the players) were obviously very strong in our beliefs that there needed to be
some change and credit to both sides for working hard to get a deal done. I
think especially for the fans, it was important that there wasn’t a work
stoppage,” McCarty said. “That’s the most important thing.”