Competition fueling veteran Dallas keepers
Several weeks ago, FC Dallas signed Kevin Hartman to add
more depth to their goalkeeping corps. Though Darío Sala may be entrenched as Dallas’
starter to begin the season, head coach Schellas Hyndman said the presence of
Hartman can only inspire the Argentine veteran to perform better between the
“Just having Kevin here has kept Darío sharp, Hyndman said. “Yeah,
there’s an all-out battle, but to be clear, Darío is our No. 1 ‘keeper. If Dario was
going 95 percent before Kevin got here, he’s going 120 now, so it’s been
nothing but positive.”
Hyndman expects Hartman to play if
Sala has an injury or his form dips, and had nothing but
praise for his new stopper.
“He does some fantastic things,” Hyndman said. “He’s a great
shot stopper and has tremendous experience. And he’s a great communicator.”
In 2009, Sala was limited to just 14 games for Dallas
because of injury -- but when he was healthy, he was rock-solid in goal. The
Argentine went 7-5-1 with four clean sheets and a 1.51 goals-against-average. Sala’s
backup from last year, Ray Burse, is no longer with the club, so he’s now looking
forward to working with Hartman.
“I’m happy that he’s here and that we can build this
relationship off and on the field,” Sala said. “The way that I go to practice
and focus on the game, it’s something personal.”
Hartman, who spent last year in Kansas City before being out
of contract and joining Dallas, won an MLS Cup with Los Angeles back in 2005.
He admitted he wants to be FCD’s starting goalkeeper, but he also realizes that
he has only been with Hyndman’s team for a few weeks and must first shake off
any rust before he can make a serious push for the No. 1 job.
“I’m so excited about the opportunity that I’ve been given
to be in Dallas,” Hartman said. “It’s been two-and-a-half weeks since I got
there, so there are things I’m still getting used to -- the structure of the team,
the new ball and just really getting back into it. I am getting acclimated to a
new place. I am going to continue to push, hopefully find myself an opportunity
and grab hold of it.”
And even though the two seasoned ‘keepers are in competition
for the top spot, that hasn’t stopped them from becoming friends.
“We are the only ones over 35," Sala said. "We are old. I
enjoy it because he has credentials and he was a champion. He knows I told the
coach he was a good option because I want my team -- whether it’s with me or
without me -- to be champions. No matter who starts, I want to be part of that history
with this team. If I’m not there, I want to have the best guy on the field.”
Sala will be in goal on Saturday when FCD opens against
Houston, but in the next few weeks, expect Hartman to make a serious challenge
to unseat him.