On the heels of a disappointing 1-0 loss to Los Angeles, Dallas heads to Chicago for a Thursday night affair with the Fire. Considering FCD’s undefeated track record at Toyota Park, head coach Schellas Hyndman hopes it will give his attack a much-needed shot in the arm.
“I think having the LA game right after Philadelphia was good for us. We wanted to have it to forget about the last one and it backfired on us,” Hyndman said. “I’m a little nervous to say I’m excited about this game coming up. We’ve just got to be a little bit better than what we are.”
At home this year, the Fire is 1-1-2 with their lone win coming against Houston, whom they defeated 2-0 earlier this season. On top of that, the Fire haven’t played a league match since drawing 2-2 with Kansas City at home. Chicago were also blanked in losses against Paris St. Germain and Legia Warsaw in the Chicago Sister Cities International Cup.
Since the Bridgeview, Ill. venue opened in 2006, FCD is 4-0-0 against their Brimstone Cup rivals there. Last season, FCD prevailed 3-0 at Toyota Park.
In that game, Jeff Cunningham scored his first goal of the 2009 season playing out of right midfield instead of in his normal spot up top. Not coincidentally, Hyndman has been playing the veteran scorer in the same spot this week in training, hoping to illicit a similar performance from Cunningham and to help get his team’s offensive game on track.
Cunningham leads FCD with four goals this season, but three of those have come via penalty kicks. He has been pulled in the 63rd minute of each of the last two games for ineffectiveness.
Ineffectiveness is a characteristic that Dallas is all too familiar with. In their first nine games, FCD has scored 10 goals and allowed 10. That’s obviously something Hyndman wants to see change, especially for a club that led MLS with 44 goals in 2009.
“We’re giving up 1.1 goals a game, which isn’t bad. What we’ve got to do is get the other side up,” Hyndman said. “We’ve got to score more. I’m looking forward to the Chicago game. We’ve found some pretty good luck there but I also think we’re still a work in progress.”
Midfielder Dax McCarty, who has two assists on the year, admits that getting their offensive game firing on all cylinders has become such a common mantra this year that it’s starting to sound like a broken record.
“We say that every game. We say it’s our opportunity to get our goal-scoring prowess on track,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s just not clicking for us right now.”
McCarty feels that Thursday night’s nationally-televised match will play to FCD’s strengths.
“We think it’s going to be an open game, a game where they’re not going to sit in and try to hit us on the counter like a lot of teams have been doing to us at home,” he said. “It’s definitely going to cater to our style and hopefully we can get a couple of goals.”