Loyd recovers from hamstring injury

FCD defender has played solidly in last three preseason matches

When FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman took defender Zach Loyd fifth
overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, he felt the University of North
Carolina product could contribute quickly.

However, soon after beginning preseason, Loyd was slowed by a strained
hamstring, missing FCD's first three preseason matches. But since the
team has gone to Florida, he has seen his first preseason action,
getting time in all three of the club's games there.

"Good player, a player that we thought when we drafted was someone who
would find success in the league," Hyndman said. "There are some
similarities to George John when we picked him up last year. As I stated
in the past, he (John) would have been an outstanding player for FC
Dallas (in 2009) if he had been healthy. Zach came in, pulled a
hamstring straight away and just getting him back now and getting him
into the mix of things. He's going to be a good one for us."

The 22-year-old Loyd started and played 58 minutes in a 4-0 win against
Central Florida last Friday, then extended his run to 70 minutes in a
1-0 loss to Florida International on Sunday. Tuesday morning, he played
30 second-half minutes of a 2-0 win against New England in Orlando.

"In the first game, I thought I did very well. I was just trying to get
used to playing with all the guys because I hadn't played a game in a
while," Loyd said. "Right now, I am basically trying to work my way into
the lineup and get familiar with how the other guys play and Schellas'
system. The second game, I did all right but the field conditions were
pretty bad so play was a little quick. Overall, I'm going in the right
direction. There's still room for improvement but things have gone well
since I've come back."

However, the most important thing is that the hamstring issues are a
thing of the past.

"Yeah, I feel really strong. Day-by-day, I feel like I'm getting more
confidence in it," he said. "It's just kind of slow and a gradual
process to go through. I think I came back pretty quick with the great
training staff that we have and with Schellas and the coaching staff
supporting me."

Last week, FCD released Aziz Ansah, a defender brought in from Ghana who
was originally thought to challenge incumbent Heath Pearce at right
back. However, a big reason why Ansah was waived was because Hyndman
felt like he had more than adequate cover at that spot in Loyd.

"It gives me a lot of confidence but there are a lot of other guys here
who are also working hard at that same position," Loyd said. "Every day,
I am going to come in, be ready to work and not let anything like
hearsay get into my head. Each day, I will show up ready to train."

While some rookies find themselves a bit shell-shocked when they are
first exposed to the professional game, that is not the case with Loyd.

"It's been about where I expected. It's getting quicker and quicker as
guys are getting more fit and more touches on the ball," he said. "As we
get closer to the season, hopefully we keep getting better and better
and we're ready for that home opener."

Hyndman does see plenty for his young defender to adjust to as a
professional.

"I think the biggest adjustment for him is going to be as always, the
speed of the game, how things happen very quickly and if you're out of
position, you're in trouble," the FCD coach said. "The other adjustment
for him is going to be the athleticism of the league. He'll be trying to
keep up with somebody who has pure speed. The final thing for him is
the building of confidence in what we want a fullback to do -- also be
part of our attack. We want him to have that confidence to make sure he
plays the ball early and makes quality decisions. I think with time, he
will be a good player for us but there are going to be some growing
pains in that process."

That transition is being helped along by one of FCD's more veteran
defenders.

"So far, Ugo (Ihemelu) has been talking to me a lot on the field and off
the field. He's been giving me a lot of pointers," Loyd said. "He's
been really helpful in my transition from college to the professional
level. He has told me a lot of it is just about your confidence. He has
given me tactical pointers about when I need to step in and when I need
to hold. He's helping me adjust to the playing style since he's played
here for a bit."