Bobby Rhine: Hyndman's transformation of FC Dallas almost complete
Monday, June 17th, 2008 is a day I can’t forget.
That was the day Schellas Hyndman addressed his new team for the
first time as FC Dallas manager. As he began to speak to all of the players in
the locker room, the message was very clear – he wanted to create a culture of
As I sat and listened I could think of only one thing – when? I
thought, anyone can deliver a concept, but only someone with a plan can
actually execute it. Hyndman had his plan from the get go – but could he make
it a reality?
The first part of the plan was to get the players he wanted, or a stage he
calls “forming.” I remember well the criticism he took as he began acquiring
more and more of “his guys.”
But think about it – what manager doesn’t do that?
Look at Ricardo Carvalho for example. The Portuguese center back
has been acquired by Jose Mourinho on three different occasions starting at
Porto, Chelsea and now today at Real Madrid. Hyndman has done the same thing
with his player acquisitions.
During one week last September he made moves to bring in Ugo
Ihemelu and Daniel Hernandez. Both were players he had a great deal of
familiarity with from his days at SMU. Hyndman was starting to build the team
in his image. Atiba Harris, Jair Benitez, and Heath Pearce were the other
pieces to his puzzle. With those five players in the starting lineup by the end
of the 2009 season, FCD won four of the last five to fall only a point short of
But there were certainly times in 2009 when there was an incredible amount of
turmoil or, as Hyndman would say, “storming.” The second part of the plan
required the team to buy into his system. It’s my opinion that he didn’t really
have that until he made his changes in personnel. With locker room leaders like
Hernandez and Ihemelu, the process was expedited.
Despite a record of 2-2-6 in the first 10 games of 2010, the
belief remained unwavering because of the trust between clubhouse leaders, role
players and management. During the next 10 games FCD amassed a record of 6-0-4.
This was the first sign of what Hyndman would call “norming” – confidence was
building and the buy-in was complete.
The fourth and final piece for Hyndman’s team was “performing.” It required an
evolution of the team’s character, chemistry, resiliency and ability to handle
adversity – all characteristics which Hyndman himself possesses. With injuries
occurring to as many as six usual starters, the depth of his young team has
been tested. They’ve bent but not broken en route to an 18-game unbeaten
streak, losing only twice in 27 matches.
And so it seems the coach’s process is nearly complete – only one
lingering question remains.
Can Schellas Hyndman lead his team to win the biggest game?
We don’t know the answer yet, but we do know that this is an FC Dallas
team unlike any other. They are incredibly resilient. They are very difficult
to play against. And they carry the character of their coach with them every
time they step on the field.
Because of those things, they have a chance to win every game they
play – even the biggest one.