FRISCO, Texas — After their 2-2 draw with Colorado last Saturday, Schellas Hyndman and his players admitted it was not their finest hour.
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Even though FC Dallas now hold the MLS record for longest unbeaten streak in one season at 19 matches, reaching that result against the Rapids was ugly.
A majority of the FCD first 11 were flat and the Texas side was lucky to escape Pizza Hut Park with a point and its streak intact. Hyndman knew something was amiss after his customary address to his team before the first kick.
“For the first time this year, they weren’t the same team after the pregame talk,” the FCD manager said. “I could already feel it. It wasn’t anything to do with pressure. It was maybe [because] we’re in the playoffs. I think they had worked so hard to get there, now that they got there, sometimes it’s a normal thing to back off a little bit.”
One reason Hyndman listed for the team’s lack of focus was the fact that two of his more seasoned veterans, captain Daniel Hernandez and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, continue to be out with injuries suffered in a 2-2 draw against New York back on Sept. 16.
“We didn’t have the leadership on the field,” Hyndman said. “I don’t think they would have let it happen. I think it was awfully quiet in our game. They weren’t encouraging [each other] or anything.”
Shea Off the Bench
Earlier this year, Brek Shea was a fixture at left mid. But with the recent strong play of Marvin Chavez on the left flank – who filled in while Shea served a two-game suspension for a red card and has played well enough to not relinquish his spot – Shea’s role, at least for now, remains as a substitute.
Shea is currently with the US national team but is slated to return to practice on Wednesday.
“Brek, like any player, wants to get his position back,” Hyndman said. “If Chávez wasn’t doing well, it wouldn’t be an issue, but Chávez is adding a lot to this team with his quickness, speed, penetration and work ethic.”
Harris Misses Training
Right midfielder Atiba Harris missed Tuesday’s practice. The St. Kitts native was on the sidelines riding an exercise bike and stretching while his teammates were going through a full workout.
According to Hyndman, Harris has a sensitive cyst on his right foot as well as a strained quadriceps. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but considering how many starters he had been missing due to injury, the FCD manager is well aware of what losing Harris would mean.
“When you look at his production this year, it might not be exactly what we want it to be,” said Hyndman. “[But] he does a lot of things that are very valuable for us.”
McCarty Still Rusty
Rookie Eric Alexander got the start as FCD’s linking midfield role ahead of Dax McCarty, who continues to work his way back after a quadriceps injury put him on the shelf from mid-July through September.
McCarty did come on at halftime for center back George John, who had to leave the field with a tight hamstring. McCarty was slotted in at holding mid, and Jackon Gonçalves was pushed back to center back.
“I think a big thing right now is getting game sharpness, playing on both sides of the ball and doing the types of things we want [McCarty] to do,” Hyndman said. “I think he lost that sharpness and needs to get that back.”
Hartman’s Return Uncertain
With the return of Hernandez, John and Ugo Ihemelu to practice on Tuesday, that leaves just Hartman on the sidelines.
The goalkeeper has been out since Sept. 16 with a strained right MCL suffered in a collision with New York’s Thierry Henry. Dario Sala has been starting between the posts for FCD in the interim. As of right now, Hyndman doesn’t know when Hartman could return.
“I’m leaving that with the trainers and him,” said the coach. “He’s going to have to do it pretty soon to get back on the field.”