FRISCO, Texas – In his first seven games with FC Dallas, Milton Rodriguez has one goal and one assist. And while FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman admits his recently added Colombian striker hasn’t delivered in the key category of goals, the 34-year-old forward has done just about everything else the gaffer has asked him to do.
“He still has the production,” Hyndman said.
In Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Columbus, Rodríguez sent two nice balls to FCD midfielder Brek Shea, but the big Texan was unable to convert on either opportunity.
WATCH: HIGHLIGHTS: CLB 0, DAL 0
“What a great ball he gave to Brek, and Brek’s first touch takes him away from the goal,” Hyndman said. “If Brek puts the ball in front of him, I think we win the game 1-0.”
Hartman’s Bobble No Big Deal
In the 10th minute of Saturday’s game, Columbus’ Guillermo Barros Schelotto took a free kick from about 40 yards out. FCD goalkeeper Kevin Hartman came off his line to corral the ball in the air, and in one of only a few mistakes Hartman has had since becoming FCD’s starter several months ago, he bobbled it. Luckily, teammate Atiba Harris was there to stop a shot by the opposition.
WATCH: Hartman bobbles Schelotto FK
“It’s no different than an NFL player that you throw a ball to and he drops it,” Hyndman said. “It’s the simplest ball. Nobody’s around him and he takes his eyes off it and drops the ball. I think Kevin … felt somebody was going to come in and hit him. He took his eyes off [the ball and it] came out of his hand.”
The FCD manager isn’t the least bit concerned, especially considering that Hartman currently leads MLS with a goals-against-average of just 0.65.
“He’s having an All-Star season,” Hyndman said. “You would look at him as the best goalkeeper in the league. If he didn’t make those mistakes, he would be the national team goalkeeper. [But] when he makes those mistakes, it shows his vulnerabilities and the areas he needs to make better.”
Jackson Continues to Impress
Recently-added Brazilian defender/midfielder Jackson Gonçalves came off the bench late at Crew Stadium and once again impressed with his solid play.
With Harris having to serve a suspension due to yellow card accumulation, Jackson, who played some right mid against D.C. United earlier in the year, could get his first career start against Toronto on Saturday should Hyndman decide to go in that direction.
“I think he’s done well,” Hyndman said of Jackson. “We’ve brought him in as a defender and have experimented with him at right side midfield.
“The DC game, we were trying to hold the lead and I wanted somebody up there that could also defend. Against Chivas, he did a good job. Then, he played the right fullback position at Columbus, where I thought he did well.”
More Tests for Ihemelu
FCD center back Ugo Ihemelu, who has been out since Aug. 8 after suffering a concussion in the first half of a 3-1 win over Philadelphia, wasn’t on the sidelines for Monday’s recovery session.
Despite having shown considerable improvement over the last few weeks, Ihemelu is due to undergo more tests tomorrow to determine when he might be ready to return to the field.
“It’s a natural thing to improve," Hyndman said. “If you stay away from running and ball contact, you’re going to get better. How much better? We’ll know tomorrow when they do some tests on him.”
Light-Hearted Take on Losing Two Starters
Hyndman’s team faces Toronto FC on Saturday, most likely without four starters.
Linking midfielder Dax McCarty has been out for around six weeks, while Ihemelu has missed the last three weeks.
But with the suspensions of Harris and captain Daniel Hernandez, who both picked up a fifth yellow against the Crew and must sit out, the FCD gaffer will have to tinker with his lineup a bit more than usual.
Still, Hyndman took a somewhat lighthearted approach to having to replace Harris and Hernandez after Monday’s training session.
“It’s a bit tough because last week or maybe 10 days ago, I kind of saw this coming and trained Atiba to be the holding midfielder,” the FCD manager said. “Now the big joke to Atiba is, ‘Hey if you didn’t want to play defensive mid, why didn’t you just tell me?'”