FC Dallas taking training to Tampa

Club will face Tampa Bay Rowdies, Philadelphia Union on six-day trip

FRISCO, Texas -- FC Dallas on Wednesday departed for Tampa, where the club will spend the next six days, taking on USSF D-II Pro League side Tampa Bay Rowdies on Friday, then squaring off with MLS expansion club Philadelphia Union on Sunday.

"We'll be taking this quite seriously. This will be our last trip before we start up the season," FCD coach Schellas Hyndman said. "In our coaches meeting (Tuesday), we talked about some areas where we still haven't been able to improve in and what we need to get better in before the season starts. We all agreed that we need to understand what our structure is and we need to get everybody on the same page. We need to understand our job description, make sure people are doing their jobs and not sluffing off."

FCD comes off a 3-0 loss to Chicago on Sunday in Jackson, Miss., its third consecutive loss in preseason. All three defeats have come against MLS sides, something that is of concern to their coach.

"I've always said that we want to develop a culture of winning," Hyndman said. "Every time you get on the field, it gives you that opportunity to develop that culture of winning and it also gives you a chance to develop that confidence. The games that we haven't been winning, I felt like we were the better team and the results don't show it, especially when you lose a game 3-0 (to Chicago), you're down a man and don't get a chance to score."

Two players who missed that trip -- Marvin Chavez, who is slated to be FCD's starter at right midfield once the season begins, and Eric Avila -- will be traveling to Florida.

"Avi has recovered from his foot injury," Hyndman said. "Chavez was still having a little bit of trouble with the knee but we did an MRI check and everything is fine. It's just a little puffiness. We're hoping to get him back out on the field."

Between last year's starting left midfielder, Dave van den Bergh, who had a team-leading 11 assists, and the starter on the right flank, Atiba Harris, who had five assists, FCD will need to have others step up to provide service from the flanks. Van den Bergh's contract was not renewed while Harris remains with the team but is now looked at as a forward.

Hyndman feels that new left-sided starter Brek Shea, Chavez and linking midfielder Dax McCarty, who had six assists in 2009, are more than up to that task.

"I think we'll have players that can do that whether it's those players or different players that can do that. That's what we're still trying to determine," the FCD coach said. "We have not been clicking in the attacking phase. In the first 15 minutes against Chicago, we probably had three golden chances to score against Chicago and we didn't. It wasn't so much the assist wasn't there, the finishing wasn't there. We'll be OK with that."

In addition, Hyndman will have three players for this trip -- McCarty, 2009 MLS Golden Boot winner Jeff Cunningham, and Heath Pearce -- all back from U.S. national team camp.

"By getting Jeff (Cunningham), Heath (Pearce) and Dax (McCarty) back, there's still a coordination that we've got to get out of these guys. A lot of our time and energy in the next week to 10 days will be really working on our team structure," Hyndman said. For the most part, Hyndman's roster is set. However, there is a question about who will nail down the last spot on the FCD backline. That choice comes down to a pair of trialists: rookie Edson Edward and fellow trialist Steve Purdy, who spent much of 2009 with FCD, battled injuries and was released before being brought back late in the year.

"Steve (Purdy) had a lot of opportunities last year coming in and playing all the time. He hasn't had those same opportunities this year but then we also had a chance to watch him for a full season," Hyndman said. "It will probably come down to one of those two players. This week should decide the final roster spot."

FCD will return to Frisco next Tuesday, but even then, their work will be far from complete.

"When we get back, we have Bill Beswick in. We brought him in last year," Hyndman said. "He is a sports psychologist out of England. He'll spend five days with our team working with us whether it's leadership, stress or whatever it is."

Following a loss to the New York Red Bulls last summer at Giants Stadium, the FCD coach brought Beswick in to address his players, a move that looked to pay big dividends as Hyndman's squad was solid down the stretch and almost made the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com.