FRISCO, Texas — In Thursday’s training session, FC Dallas’ final one before departing for Real Salt Lake, head coach Schellas Hyndman had his club practice penalty kicks during the last part of practice.
Hyndman obviously hopes the second leg of their Western Conference Semifinal series against RSL (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, FSC) isn’t decided at the spot, but there’s always that possibility and he’s not taking any chances.
“We told [the players] last week that the second game and all the games after [that] would end in PKs, so we encouraged them to start thinking about PKs and start practicing on it as of last week,” said Hyndman.
It looks like the first five shooters could include David Ferreira, who has taken most of the penalty kicks this year, and veterans Jeff Cunningham and Daniel Hernandez. But after that, it is unclear exactly who the FCD gaffer will choose for the remaining two spots.
“Hopefully we don’t have to get into that stage,” Ferreira said. “We want to go in and get the result in 90 minutes. If for any reason we go to PKs, I’m confident. … I’m going to do it like I always do, be calm and make it.”
If the game does reach the penalty kick stage, Hyndman said his philosophy is simple.
“My philosophy is just simple," he quipped. "Make them.”
Hyndman is confident that having a veteran goalkeeper like Kevin Hartman between the posts should the game go to a penalty shootout will be absolutely crucial.
“We know how important our goalkeepers are,” Hyndman said. “Kevin is one of those ‘keepers that has been around a long time and does a fairly good job with the PKs.”
No Rio Tinto Mystique
Even though FCD have never won at Rio Tinto Stadium, and despite RSL not having lost there since May 2009, Hyndman and his players don’t see any mystique surrounding RSL’s home field.
“I’ve played twice over there and haven’t been able to get a result,” Ferreira said. “Hopefully this time will be different. We go in a goal ahead, so we need to play with their emotions because they’re going to try to go in and try to score a goal. … We’re going to go in there and play smart.”
The FCD manager sees RSL’s success in Sandy as a result of some pretty simple factors.
“They have the altitude. You don’t realize how much of an effect the altitude has until you take a corner kick and it goes to the other line,” Hyndman said. “[RSL] play a little different at home. The three times we’ve played them there, we’ve scored three goals and they scored nine. It’s a tough place to play.”
FCD’s Birthday Bit
Thursday was Hyndman’s birthday, and before the start of practice, his players showed up donning white headbands with the word “NINJA” on them and diapers to lighten the mood and to show their appreciation toward their head coach.
“They were funny,” Hyndman said. “It was very thoughtful on their part. With everything we’ve got going on, it was very nice of them.”
Hernandez wouldn’t own up to being one of the ringleaders of the gesture, but he did admit he had a hand in the bit’s execution.
“I had to help lead it, that’s for sure,” the FCD captain said. “I think it’s just more of a respect thing for him. Everybody has a lot of love for coach and really respects him. This whole team has been kind of like a family this year and we care a lot about each other. Little things like that I think mean a lot to us. We wanted to do something special for him and get a little laugh out of it.”