On Sunday, FC Dallas dropped their first match of preseason with a 1-0 loss to Florida International University. However, instead of yanking the emergency brake, FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman is instead looking at the big picture and realizes after four days away from home his club has accomplished a great deal.
"What we're trying to do is put some of our trialists and give them an opportunity to catch our eye and make the team," the FCD coach said. "We've been working extremely hard on our team structure, finishing, fitness and those types of things you might expect in the preseason. All in all, we've been going at it pretty hard."
Originally, Hyndman was hoping to get another trialist or two to join the team in Florida but things haven't quite gone according to plan.
"We had hoped to bring in a player or two and it doesn't seem like that's happening. We're still with the players we have and it's turning into quite a struggle for decision making on who we're looking at to keep on the roster or who's just not going to be able to make it," he said."
On Friday, FCD opened their trip with a 4-0 win over Central Florida. In that victory, FCD Juniors player Ruben Luna netted two goals and also had an assist.
"He is a nice player. We played him in a couple of games and he's doing fine," Hyndman said of Luna. "It would be great for the homegrown players to be able to be signed onto the team and it would be great for the homegrown players to find success. At the same time, what we need to be able to do is make sure we don't take away opportunities for him in other areas. Right now, he's doing a pretty good job. We're spending a lot of time with his development and we hope that he'll find that success."
The weekend also brought the first 2010 action for FCD's top draft pick last month, defender Zach Loyd of North Carolina. While Hyndman has been impressed with Loyd's play, another draftee has also caught his eye -- Eric Alexander, who scored a goal Friday.
"I've been really impressed ... He's got some really nice qualities, good vision and is a good distributor of the ball," the FCD coach said. "He'll really get a good test [Tuesday] when we face New England. We want him on the field so we can evaluate him."
However, those aren't the only players who have caught the coach's eye over the weekend.
"Another player who has done pretty well for us is Eddie Edward, who we picked up in the supplemental draft. He's very athletic and very strong," Hyndman said. "He seems to be improving in this environment, which is a great help. I think Brian Leyva, we've been very pleased with. He's going to be another very good, homegrown player that we signed and we think will be pretty good for us."
Even though three of Hyndman's starters are away with the U.S. national team, the FCD coach has been impressed with one player who could be his starting left midfielder once the regular season commences on March 27 against in-state rival Houston.
"I've been really impressed with Brek Shea. He's had some fantastic moments," Hyndman said. "Like all young players, he has a great moment here and a down moment there. If we can just get more good moments out of him, I think this is going to be a very good year for him."
On Tuesday morning, FCD will face their first MLS foe of the preseason when they scrimmage New England. Hyndman is looking forward to measuring his club against the Revolution.
"I think this was the area that we didn't do enough of last year. We had some international games but you never know what those games mean," he said. "Then we had some college games that were used more for your trialists and players trying to make your roster. When I looked at it, we have six or seven MLS games before the season starts (this year).
"This is going to be our first matchup where I really now can talk about some of those players that are stepping up to earn a spot on our roster. Or maybe they don't step up or aren't just quite good enough. All in all, it's a great measuring stick to where we are in the league compared to other teams. We don't know how seriously other teams are going to take these games. This is a great measuring stick for us to establish where we are with player personnel, strategy, structure and fitness level."