FCD shaking off rust, injuries as playoffs loom

Ihemelu to sit out vs. LA; Hernandez, John to return

George John played well against RSL.

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FRISCO, Texas — FC Dallas’ 19-game unbeaten streak came to an end last Saturday in a 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake in Utah. But every cloud has a silver lining. FCD captain Daniel Hernandez returned to the side along with center-back tandem Ugo Ihemelu and George John.           

The enthusiasm generated by the returns was dampened a bit when Hernandez’s hamstring flared up early in the first half. Ihemelu was also bothered by a hamstring and had to leave the game in the second half.           

“We didn’t expect Ugo to come out of the game against Real Salt Lake,” FCD coach Schellas Hyndman said. “We didn’t expect Daniel Hernandez to complain about his hamstring 10 minutes into the game. Those are things we can’t prepare for.”           

All three starters have been training all week. Judging from those workouts, it looks like Ihemelu might not start against the LA Galaxy on Sunday night. If so, rookie Zach Loyd would fill in at center back.            

Ihemelu went through Thursday’s training session with his hamstring wrapped.            

“He’s probably wearing a little sleeve just to keep everything a little bit compressed, but he’s fine,” Hyndman said of Ihemelu. “Again, we’re going to put everything forward to do well against LA, but we also realize we could turn around and play another game Thursday [in the playoffs].

"If that happens, we want to be prepared for that game to the best of our ability.”          

There doesn’t appear to be any issue with Hernandez, so the FCD captain should get the start again this weekend.          

And the news is also good on John, a second-year defender who battled hamstring issues for much of his rookie campaign and earlier this year.          

“I thought he was very good [against RSL],” Hyndman said. “George was one of the players that we rated very high. Even though we lost 2-0, we felt like he did a good job for us.”           

Linking midfielder Dax McCarty got his second start in three games at RSL but came out in the 71st minute for Atiba Harris. McCarty had been out with an injury from mid-July to early October.           

“I think Dax has a little ways to go,” Hyndman said. “I don’t know if it’s shaking off the rust or just [becoming] completely injury-free. I don’t know if we’re seeing the best out of Dax like we’ve seen in the past. The thing that we keep encouraging him to do is get the most out of the minutes that he’s on the field.”           

Is it physical, or mental for McCarty?           

“Probably a blend of both, players play better when they have more confidence,” Hyndman said.           

And on Sunday, FCD could also get goalkeeper Kevin Hartman back. He has missed the last five games with a strained right MCL after a collision with New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry on Sept. 16 in Frisco. Hartman has trained all week and could get his first start in over a month on Sunday evening.           

“It’s fantastic [to see him back in practice],” Hyndman said on Wednesday. “It’s a morale booster. Kevin has done such a fantastic job for us this year.”

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