FRISCO, Texas — In 2009, FC Dallas went 8-4-1 down the stretch and nearly made the playoffs for the first time since 2007. On Saturday, they face a team that seems to be mirroring FCD’s monumental effort from a year ago.
The Kansas City Wizards are 6-1-3 in their last 10 games. Among their wins in that stretch are road victories at Columbus, Los Angeles and Houston along with a draw against reigning MLS Cup champions Real Salt Lake. They remain outside the playoff zone, but their recent form has catapulted them into contention that no one could have predicted a month ago.
“There are a lot of similarities [between the 2010 Wizards and 2009 Dallas],” Hyndman said this week. “There’s a little bit of desperation. There’s no hesitation. The objective is three points. It eliminates a lot of fear in what you have to do.
"Right now, they’re a team that’s playing extremely well. They seem to be playing injury-free, so they’re running on all strengths. They are definitely a team to be fearful of.”
Under Hyndman, FCD have never won in Kansas City, going 0-1-1 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. They lost 3-2 in their most recent trip last September.
Second-year center back George John continues to be bothered by a strained hamstring and will not make the trip to Kansas City. This marks the fourth straight game John has missed since leaving at halftime of a 1-0 win over Toronto FC back on Sept. 4. Brazilian Jackson Gonçalves has been filling in for John during his absence and has performed well.
The news is more positive on rookie midfielder Eric Alexander, who has started the last seven games. He left the field with double vision in the 70th minute of Wednesday’s tie with New England after being poked in the eye. Those symptoms were no longer present as of Thursday.
More of the Same
With the suspended Brek Shea also unavailable on Saturday, Hyndman looks likely to start Marvin Chavez on the left flank for a second straight game.
“He’s the type of player who has a lot of energy, a lot of excitement and is very, very quick,” Hyndman said. “I think we saw a lot of that [in Wednesday’s draw with New England]. [But] it’s going to take a little bit of time for him to find a groove again with the decision making and execution.”
Holding midfielder Dax McCarty also looks set to start for a second straight game in the absence of the injured Daniel Hernandez. The versatile McCarty showed considerable rust against the Revs, his first start in over two months.
“It was kind of one of those things that as the game went on, he got better and better,” Hyndman said. “I think that showed in the second half. Right now, we continue to go with players that bring something in that position. I think he’s competitive at that position.”
Props for Veteran Duo
Jeff Cunningham’s stoppage-time equalizer against New England moved him within two goals of Jaime Moreno’s record for most in MLS history.
“I was really very pleased, not just for him personally getting that goal, but putting the team in the situation where we only had a few seconds left and were able to come away with the tie,” Hyndman said.
“This tie felt like a win and when we reflect on it, we’re disappointed we didn’t get the win. At the same time, I think this team comes up with that mentality of, 'Let’s refuse to lose.'”
The FCD gaffer also offered praise for veteran goalkeeper Dario Sala, who got his first start since May 1. With starter Kevin Hartman sidelined for a few weeks with a right MCL sprain, Sala will be the No. 1 for the foreseeable future.
“He shows us why it was so important to have two first-team goalkeepers,” Hyndman said.