Loyd solid in debut

North Carolina alum impresses vs. Crew

zach-loyd-DL

Photo Credit: 
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

This was exactly how Schellas Hyndman envisioned things.
When the FC Dallas head coach drafted North Carolina defender Zach Loyd fifth
overall in mid-January’s MLS Super Draft, Hyndman saw Loyd earning a starting
spot in short order. However, even the FCD rookie was a bit surprised his debut
came in week two against Columbus.

Loyd
started at right back for FCD in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with the Black and Gold
before leaving with about 15 minutes left, as Hyndman wanted a bit more offense
on the field.

“I
officially found out after practice on Thursday. He (Hyndman) wanted me to
start getting mentally prepared and ready for the match,” the FCD rookie said. “It
came as a little bit of a surprise that they were going to give me an
opportunity this early in the season. I was really thankful they had the
confidence in me to put me in. At game time, I was really nervous and excited.
After the first few minutes, you get back into it like its practice. My
teammates were helping me and talking me up all the way to game time. I’m
thankful for them being with me and giving me confidence leading up to the
game.”

One
thing Loyd didn’t do was tell his family right away. His parents and
two-year-old son were making the drive down from Oklahoma like they plan to do
for every FCD home game.

“I
actually waited until they came down here (to tell them),” he admitted. “I was
keeping it to myself. I didn’t want too many people finding out. I didn’t want
people calling me. I wanted to just mentally get ready for the game. I told
them before the game, before I left for here (Pizza Hut Park). They were happy. I didn’t want
them telling someone and there being a chain reaction. I just wanted to be able
to focus on the game.”

And
when asked how much it meant to have his family present for his professional
debut, Loyd was at a bit of a loss for words.

“It’s
kind of hard to describe because they’ve done so much for me. Growing up, they
would take me to practice 45 minutes away every day,” he said. “With all the
support they gave me, it was a really special moment.”

Hyndman
offered a glowing review of Loyd’s first start.

“I
made a decision after watching the College Cup with Chapel Hill and said I
didn’t think this guy was going to be around for our second pick. I knew if I
wanted him, I would have to put my first pick into him,” the FCD coach said. “I
think he’s a player that can contribute to this team like a George John did (in
2009 as a rookie). Offensively, he had a couple of passes that missed his
target. We’ve just got to make sure we play balls to midfielders’ feet. That
gives them a chance to protect and a chance to get fouled. But if we miss the
player, then it’s a counterattack. He’s a quick learner. I think he did very
well for himself.”

The
former Tar Heel standout assessed his debut as follows.

“I
thought I did pretty well. I matched up well with the speed of Robbie Rogers,”
Loyd said. “I thought defensively, I was pretty strong on one-v-ones. They had
a hard time getting around me. Offensively, I had some bad turnovers. I would
try to spray balls in the middle and lose them in the defensive third, which is
a really dangerous spot. I need to get sharper on offense and just be aware of
my surroundings when I’m going forward. I think that’s my next step.”

While
he has always been confident that he would start at some point as a rookie, he
was still taken aback when his opportunity came so early.

“I
really didn’t know. My whole thought process is that I had to train hard every
day, just come in with that mentality and wait for the coaching staff to give
me that opportunity,” Loyd said. “When it came, I was ready for it. I thank God
for giving me the opportunity to do that and also my teammates. They’re always
there to back me up no matter what happens.”