FC Dallas’ second practice leading into Saturday’s game (4 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel) against Real Salt Lake focused mainly on defensive positioning. The session began with a long jogging and stretching session prior to FC Dallas Head Coach Schellas Hyndman’s first drill.
A three-goal drill
The players competed 12-on-12 in a 60-yard area with three goals on either end line. Teams had the option of scoring in the goals located near the corner flags or the standard goal in the middle. Goals on the outside counted as one point, while goals on the customary net were worth two points.
The addition of two outside goals forced both team’s defenses to spread out, creating room for attacking players to string together passes. One of the first combinations was a simple pass from Bryan Leyva to Daniel Hernandez. Hernandez did well to see Ruben Luna making a run in behind him and he let the pass for Luna to hit on goal. Luna struck the ball well, but MLS Goalkeeper of the Year candidate Kevin Hartman stopped the shot and smothered the rebound.
Hyndman removed the two outside goals but limited the players to two touches per possession. From the beginning of the second drill, the orange team looked dominant. From his position on the right flank, Marvin Chavez cut inside and found a shooting lane, but his attempt at the back post struck the woodwork.
The rebound fell to the feet of MLS MVP candidate David Ferreira, who chipped a ball into the path of Atiba Harris at the front post. Charging off his line, Sala looked to have the near post covered, but Harris redirected the shot past the goalkeeper with the slightest of touches.
Having a red-hot Atiba Harris is a great sign for FC Dallas heading into this weekend’s showdown with RSL. In addition to scoring last week against Los Angeles, Harris finished off an insurance goal versus RSL on July 17.
Tightening up defensively
Before the next drill, Hyndman sent his strikers to the opposite side of the pitch to work on finishing with FC Dallas Assistant Coach Marco Ferruzzi. Hyndman then took 15 minutes to talk through FC Dallas’ defensive strategy heading into Saturday’s match with Real Salt Lake. After laying out FCD’s back line and defensive midfield, Hyndman had an opposing offense work the ball around the field.
As the offense changed the point of attack, Hyndman took the time to explain exactly where he wanted each player and why he wanted them there. Hyndman’s messages were reinforced by team captain Daniel Hernandez and Kevin Hartman, who split time in goal with Dario Sala.
Hyndman on Real Salt Lake
"We just saw them two weeks ago, which really helps us tactically heading into this series."
Hyndman on Kevin Hartman being nominated for Goalkeeper of the Year
"His direction and organizational abilities are the best I have seen out of a goalkeeper this season."
Hyndman on David Ferreira being named a candidate for the MLS MVP award
"He is definitely having an MVP season. He is the engine in our midfield that makes us run. He deserves to be one of the three up for the award. We hope he brings it home."