FC Dallas returned to the adidas Field for training today after defeating defending MLS Cup Champions Real Salt Lake 2-1 at Pizza Hut Park on Saturday. The team is preparing to face Salt Lake again this week in the second leg of the Western Conference semifinal. The match is scheduled to kick off Saturday, Nov. 6 at 9 p.m. CT.
Stat of the day…
Real Salt Lake had been 15-1-1 with a winning percentage of .912 when scoring the first goal this season. Thanks to FC Dallas, RSL is now 15-2-1 in 2010.
First things first
The FC Dallas first team completed a recovery session conducted by Michael Johnson Performance Center's Steward Carlisle. The remaining players ran through a typical warm-up session before breaking off in groups of three for a quick combination passing drill.
Eric Avila, who netted the game-winning-goal for FC Dallas just a few seconds after entering the game, worked out with Jason Yeisley and Andrew Wiedeman. FC Dallas Home Grown Players Bryan Leyva, Moises Hernandez and Victor Ulloa worked together in the second group while Brek Shea, Bruno Guarda and Eric Alexander passed the ball around on the east touchline.
Forward Jeff Cunningham on Eric Avila’s game-winning goal…
"It’s one of those goals that if you set up a target and tried to hit it, you would hit a shot like that maybe once every 6,000 times."
The next drill focused on finishing crosses. In rapid succession, players would attempt to finish a series of four balls played in from the flank: two on the south goal patrolled by either Josh Lambo or Kevin Hartman, and two on the north goal guarded by Dario Sala.
Still high off his laser goal against Salt Lake on Saturday, Avila appeared hot. He finished two of four attempts on goal on his first run. Assistant coach Marco Ferruzzi then flipped the switch to make the drill competitive after everyone got acquainted with the rules. Andrew Wiedeman and Eric Alexander tied 1-1 in the first head-to-head battle of the day. The second round was highlighted by an impressive save from Lambo to deny Moises Hernandez. On the play, Hernandez knocked a textbook header to the back post, but Lambo laid out to his left to tap the ball off the far post and out of play.
Brek Shea closed camp a few minutes later. Roughly 15 yards from goal, Shea caught a serve played in from the right flank on the half-volley. The screamer of a shot drilled the bottom of the crossbar, struck the ground behind the goal line and shot back up into the top of the net. Shea celebrated with a quick airplane jog back towards the south goal.
Practice officially ended at 11:25, but veteran Jeff Cunningham relished training in November for the first time in five MLS seasons. Cunningham worked on finishing corner kicks with Shea, Ferruzzi and Peri Marosevic for another 20 minutes. Shea and Ferruzzi headed into the locker room at that time, but Marosevic and Cunningham stayed to work on penalty kicks until well after noon.
“It has been a while for me,” Cunningham said after training. “I try and remind the young guys on the team to have no regrets. It is important for me to do everything I can to be prepared to play well. You never know when you’ll be back to the postseason.”
Jeff Cunningham on his first half goal against RSL on Saturday…
"It was a striker’s goal. Some things just happened and the ball got to my feet. I was very pleased that I was able to score. I had a similar chance two weeks ago at Salt Lake and I came away very disappointed that I did not score because it was at a key point in the game. Give Nick [Rimando] credit. He made a great save. But I am glad this one went in. It forced Real Salt Lake to come out and compete in the second half. We deserved the result."
Cunningham on the upcoming match in Salt Lake…
"All the pressure is on them. We know what we need to do. They’re a great team. They’re well coached."
Cunningham on coming off the bench…
"All season long coach has been asking everyone in the top 18 to be ready to play. I didn’t expect to be part of the game that early. All of the guys coming off the bench played very well – Brek [Shea], Avi [Eric Avila] and I. It was a complete team effort."
FC Dallas Head Coach Schellas Hyndman on this Saturday’s match
"The game will go as we go. They’re a well coached team. They know they need to get a result. We will see if we can play spoilers. We remember the atmosphere at Rio Tinto, having just been there two weeks ago. The environment may help them, but it won’t hurt us."
Hyndman on the win at Pizza Hut Park
"The last thing we expected was to give up an early goal. A goal like that can take a good team and rip them apart. People have not given FC Dallas the respect they deserve – to come from behind against a team like Real Salt Lake is a great result."
Hyndman on Dax McCarty
"I thought it was one of Dax’s better performances. He made the game a lot easier on Daniel Hernandez and David Ferreira."