FCD Notebook: Midfield dilemma vs. NE

Hyndman has yet to decide who will fill in at holding, left MF

avila-start

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Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

FRISCO, Texas — At times, Schellas Hyndman holds his cards close to the vest, not revealing his lineup. With four starters likely out for Wednesday’s match against New England, the FC Dallas head coach is keeping mum on what his strategy will be.

FCD lost starting goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and captain Daniel Hernandez to injury in a 2-2 draw to New York last week, and left midfielder Brek Shea will miss the next two games after being ejected for a hard foul on Chris Albright in that match.

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It also looks like second-year center back George John will miss the Revs game with a strained hamstring, an injury that has kept him out of the last two matches.

It’s likely that rookie Jackson Gonçalves will replace John for a third straight game in defense and Dario Sala is a lock to replace Hartman under the posts. The holding midfielder spot held by Hernandez and the left midfield position manned by Shea, though, are far from settled.

“We’re definitely going to put someone [on the left flank],” Hyndman said on Friday. “I think [Marvin] Chávez is a good choice, or it could be [Eric Avila]. We’ve run out of a lot of choices for that position. We could move Dax [McCarty] on the right side and put Atiba [Harris] on the left side. There’s a lot of different things that I think are very similar.

“But we’ve got to find a defending midfielder,” he said. “That, to me, is the key.”

The picture is equally cloudy there for Hyndman. One option would be to start McCarty and rookie Eric Alexander in the center, as each can play both holding or linking midfielder.

Playing defensive midfield for 90 minutes, though, “may be too much for Dax,” said Hyndman. McCarty played 70 minutes in a reserve role against New York, but the FCD gaffer doesn’t know if the player is ready to handle a full 90, especially considering his recent return from a leg injury that sidelined him for eight weeks.

“I didn’t think he could go 60 minutes [vs. NY], and he did really well,” Hyndman said. “He has really worked out pretty well on his fitness.”

Talking Playoffs

The tie against New York gave FCD their 42nd point. A win over the Revolution would put them at 45, a total Hyndman feels should be close to clinching a playoff spot for his side.

“I don’t know what those numbers are going to be,” said Hyndman. “I’m kind of projecting a number of 45 where you should be able to [make the playoffs]. I am very confident with our team. It’s just that I don’t know how many players we can lose right now to keep that continuity and keep that confidence.“

Hyndman Fine With Shea’s Suspension

After the MLS Disciplinary Committee suspended Shea for two games, Hyndman admitted he felt that was fair punishment for his 20-year-old starter.

“I don’t think it was just the tackle, it was the whole fiasco afterwards when he came back to the field and pushed the linesman with his hands,” Hyndman said on Tuesday. “When you lose your emotions, you lose your intelligence.

"You can always say, 'Hey he’s a young player' – but young players, if they want to be on the field, they have to take the responsibility of doing it right.”

Classy Move by Red Bulls Brass

In the wake of the incident between Thierry Henry and Hartman right before halftime last week, a play that resulted in a sprained right MCL for the FCD ‘keeper that will see him out for two to six weeks, Hyndman got a somewhat unexpected phone call on the incident on Monday evening.

“I got a phone call from [Red Bulls GM and President] Erik Solér. He called to congratulate us for how well we played [with 10 men],” the FCD manager said. “He was disappointed with the event that occurred. I thought it showed a lot of class on [his] part to call because [he] didn’t have to.”

Pearce Misses Practice

There was one noticeable absence from FCD’s final practice in advance of Wednesday’s game against New England: starting right back Heath Pearce.

The veteran defender/midfielder assisted training, but sat out with a sore throat, something that plagued him earlier in the year. Nonetheless, he should be ready to go against the Revs.

Injury Update

With MRI results in for both Hartman and Hernandez, it might be a similar two- to six-week timetable before either starter returns.

“We think Hernandez might be a little bit better, maybe two to four weeks," Hyndman said. "For Kevin, the thing we don’t want to do is put him out there at 70 percent.”

As for John, who hasn’t practiced all week and continues to be bothered by a strained hamstring, he is likely unavailable for Wednesday.

Fellow central defender Ugo Ihemelu, who remains out after a concussion suffered last month, has yet to return to practice.