FC Dallas ended the 2010 MLS regular season with a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday night and must now, on a two-match losing streak, head into the Western Conference semifinals against reigning MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake.
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Things initially looked up for FCD after Atiba Harris scored his foruth goal of the year to give Dallas a 1-0 lead midway through the first half. But then FCD gave up two unanswered goals, the first of those to David Beckham in the 33rd after Landon Donovan stole the ball from Dallas right back Jackson Goncalves, appearing to push down the FCD rookie.
“I’m not really going to touch that one. I think that one speaks for itself,” FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman said when asked about the controversial nature of Beckham’s tally.
The FCD manager said he noticed frustration in his side, not just after the Beckham goal, but before it.
“We scored a very good goal and we’re up on the road,” said Hyndman, “[but] I just didn’t feel like momentum was coming our way. [The Galaxy] were making runs off the ball, getting calls and kept on getting those free kicks. It just didn’t seem to be going our way.
“Then, when they scored their goal, it was really upsetting and frustrating for us because we worked so hard at it.”
The Galaxy went ahead in the opening minute of the final frame when Juninho scored on a play where several poor clearances by FCD made the goal – one Hyndman called soft – possible.
“We just weren’t ready,” said the coach. “We had a couple of chances to clear the ball and gave them too many opportunities. Before we knew it, we were down 2-1.
“Our guys were really angry because they felt like we played so well,” added Hyndman. “When they scored their second goal, they just bunkered in.”
Despite trailing for the final 44 minutes, Hyndman was proud of his club’s “never-say-die” mentality all the way up until the final whistle.
“I’m real pleased with our players for playing all the way to the last minute,” Hyndman said. “We went really hard at them in the second half and just didn’t have the same fortune of getting a deflection or a clean cut shot at it.
“The guys fought really hard … [and] were extremely passionate about trying to get that result. It’s just something that we should be proud of: our guys not folding their tents up and leaving.”
FCD fielded a lineup without starting goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, center back Ugo Ihemelu, captain Daniel Hernandez and forward Milton Rodriguez in hopes they fully recover from injury by the time the Western Conference semis roll around.
“We know we’ve got big games coming up in the playoffs,” explained Hyndman. “We wanted to keep Daniel Hernandez on the recovery route [and] we wanted to give Milton Rodriguez some more time to recover.
We didn’t know if we were going to be playing Thursday, Saturday or what. It’s the same thing with Hartman and Ugo.”
And even though his club ended the year with a second straight loss after a 19-game unbeaten streak, Hyndman is still keeping things in proper perspective.
“It’s been a very good year for FC Dallas. We set some records,” he said. “[We’re disappointed we lost] but our last two games on the road were against two of the best teams in the league [Real Salt Lake and Los Angeles], and I think we are also one of the best teams in the league."
FCD will get another crack at proving themselves against Real Salt Lake in the opening leg of the playoffs on Saturday, Oct. 30, at Pizza Hut Park.
“It was a difficult game [against LA]," said David Ferreira. "We couldn’t get the win. ... Now we have to rest and work on correcting the mistakes this week during training because we know that we can’t commit the same mistakes against Real Salt Lake.”
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