FC Dallas’ three-match winning streak ended on Sunday night in Seattle with a 1-1 draw against Sounders FC, but FCD are now unbeaten in five straight. Schellas Hyndman’s club now begins preparing to face reigning MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake, who visit Pizza Hut Park on Saturday night.
Last week Hyndman said forward Jeff Cunningham had one of his best weeks of training in some time. However, when the starting 11 was released, Cunningham remained on the bench. He did come on in the 70th minute for Marvin Chavez and was a pretty active contributor to the FCD attack.
“I think we got a lot from Jeff," Hyndman said. "I really felt that Jeff had his best week of training this past week and it’s starting to show. He was working extremely hard. He was hungry to get forward. He was laying balls off to teammates. He looked like the old Jeff.”
Though it's likely the FCD coach realizes his veteran forward’s contributions might not have shown up on the stat sheet, that doesn’t mean he didn’t notice Cunningham’s solid performance.
“He had two really good knockdown balls that he almost got to," Hyndman said. "I know he was a handful for [Seattle] when he came on.”
After a stellar game in a 2-1 road win over Chivas USA two weeks ago, right-sided midfielder Chavez has been inconsistent in his last two matches. In fact, his play was so up and down against Seattle that Hyndman brought him off for Cunningham at the 70-minute mark.
“I give him some credit," Hyndman said. "It was a lot of high pressure and a lot of physical play, and I don’t think he’s played a lot on turf before, so I think things just weren’t flowing real well for him.”
Hyndman remains adamant that the Honduran midfielder can still be an effective part of his side’s offense.
“I know he’s a much better player than what he showed tonight," he said "He was just off a little bit. I didn’t think he had a real good showing in the last game at home either in the first half.
"I think he’s got to raise that intensity a little bit and do the type of things that we know he can do. At the end of the day, it was a team effort to get a point.”
Corner kicks no big concern
Anytime a team can get a point on the road, it’s a good thing. But there were several areas where FCD can clearly be better. One such area is on corner kicks. Dallas were pretty solid on free kicks this weekend, but many of their deliveries from the corner flag left something to be desired.
“It’s something we’ve talked about the whole season—the execution, the final pass, the final dribble, the last touch, the shot, the finish, whatever, we can get better at that,” Hyndman said. “The corner kicks—it’s a different game on the FieldTurf. You hit the ball a fraction of an inch off center, and it goes longer than you want, or it curves much more than you expect. I’m not too concerned about that, but I’ll be concerned about that if we’re on a grass field and that’s the kind of services and results we get.”
More love for Ferreira
For the third straight game, central attacking midfielder David Ferreira was the hero, scoring the game-tying goal in the 87th minute. It’s clear Hyndman is glad to have the savvy Colombian leading his club.
“The first year he came in, he really wanted to do some good stuff for us," Hyndman said. "I think he tried and had some wonderful moments, but it just wasn’t enough. The adjustment to a new league, a new coach, officiating, the physical play in the league and the athleticism, it took him a whole year to settle in.”
Last year, the big story down the stretch was Jeff Cunningham’s goal-scoring outburst that saw him capture the second Budweiser Golden Boot of his career. However, an equally noteworthy storyline was the emergence of Ferreira as FCD’s offensive catalyst.
“A lot of people were talking about what a great season Jeff had with the Golden Boot and all that," Hyndman said. " I think a lot of people underestimated how much David was helping this team last year. This year, in the last few games, he’s scored a goal. He’s definitely one of the best in the league. The thing that you get from him that you don’t get from some of these special players that you see is he works on both sides of the ball pretty hard.”