Representatives from both MLS Cup 2010 finalists spoke with media on Monday. In the first of two full transcripts, FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman shared their thoughts ahead of Sunday's match (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/Galavision).
FC Dallas Head Coach: Schellas Hyndman
FC Dallas Goalkeeper: Kevin Hartman
COACH HYNDMAN: Obviously we are extremely proud to be representing FC Dallas in the MLS Cup, playing a very good team, the Colorado Rapids. We had an outstanding game last night, but every coach dreams of having that perfect game and last night was that perfect game starting with Kevin Hartman, as well as he played in the goal, the great saves that he made and the timing of those saves, and then the candidate for MVP of the league. He was exceptional last night.
But when you look at our whole team, we showed up to play. And the message I gave to the boys before the game was very similar to the book of 'Good to Great,' but now we have become a great team and that's by winning.
KEVIN HARTMAN: Yeah, we took last night to really relish a victory that is a monumental victory in terms of FC Dallas and the organization, and the City of Dallas, and it's something for us that we wanted to make sure that we take every moment that we can to really relish what it is that we have been. We had the opportunity to do here this week and prepare for a very, very difficult opponent and someone that we respect a lot in the Colorado Rapids.
Like you said, they have a bunch of different potent weapons and it would be short sighted I think to only look at Omar Cummings and to only look at Casey, because they also have so many different assets out there in the park and we'll sit down this week and make sure that we are prepared for the dilemmas that they are going to present to us.
Right now we are really just trying to absorb, while we are still in L.A., just the after glow of the victory.
Q. At the risk of sounding unprofessional, I was unable to watch the game last night, I had a commitment I couldn't get out of, but I sure was shocked when I saw the score, and I'm wondering if you could explain maybe emotionally, but also tactically, how it was that you were able to dismantle a really good L.A. team? I'm guessing that you would have laughed if somebody had said that you were going to win by three goals against a team that, well, not meaning any disrespect to your team, but just that's a pretty emphatic result. How did the game unfold? What happened? How did you put it together like that?
COACH HYNDMAN: I think first of all we played some of the best soccer that we are capable of playing. To the point of defeating L.A., celebrating on their field, sellout crowd was really quite incredible. The game really could have gone either way, even though the score highlights a 3 0, one sided game, it really wasn't like that at all. We took a lot of pressure from them. Had some tremendous shots. We'd break out a few times and David scores a great goal, and I think scoring that goal kind of put them into an urgency mode and pretty soon their passes were going astray or they were very, very desperate trying to get the equalizer.
And then, of course, our defense played extremely well. Ugo and George an were winning a lot of the balls in the air, we worked a lot on the diagonal ball that we would see from David Beckham, and I think we were well prepared for that. We worked on the counterattack, and I think we were well prepared for that as well. So in the second half we came through and put them under a little bit of pressure as they kept on coming forward.
But the man of the match, you could pick a lot of people to be the man of the match but again Kevin Hartman made the difference in the game because the timing of the pressure and the timing, it was great saves, you know, kept us going in the right direction and I think it really frustrated L.A., so it was just one of the best performances that I've seen the FC Dallas team produce. It was a complete team commitment, and the ball bounced right for us.
Q. What were your tactics? Did you kind of sit back and defend, or did you attack or were you playing primary will I a counter attacking game? What was your game plan?
COACH HYNDMAN: My game plan was what I mentioned earlier. We wanted to take what they do, and they try to get the ball to David Beckham quite a bit, and watching them play they knock a lot of the diagonal balls to Landon Donovan, and they have Magee running. So what they try to do all week is really try to win that diagonal ball but be in position to win the second ball.
And then we also worked on the counterattack, so we felt that we have tremendous speeds. We have got a good speed on the flanks, and if we can get David Beckham and somebody coming back and defending, then we wouldn't have to worry about them attacking as much.
Probably the twist out of everything was putting Atiba Harris as a striker, and the thought there was they would not be ready for that. Secondly, you know, he's strong, he's athletic. He's probably the hardest guy in training. Nobody on the team really wants to play against him because he is so committed to the ball and trying to win every ball that's available.
So I think he caused them a lot of problems because of his size, his physical play, he was holding the ball well. He let other players get into the attack. And he was definitely a difference maker for us.
Q. Long range forecast and this can change, is that the weather in Toronto should be around minus 1 Celsius, about 35 Fahrenheit for the American guys, and snow. What are you guys going to do to prepare for conditions? And talk about some of the unique conditions that you've found in the past playing there.
COACH HYNDMAN: I don't know how you can prepare for anything like that unless you're going up like two to three weeks early.
So it's going to be a bit of a challenge for us. I think Colorado may have a little bit of an advantage, just watching their weather patterns. But for us, you know, it's a game of a lifetime. And when you work nine and a half months to dream of getting to this stage, I don't think you're going to let the weather or anything else interfere with your positive thoughts.
As players, you know, the field conditions, the wind, the cold, obviously will be part of the game, and I'm not so worried about the mental strength; I think we have got tremendous mental strength. I'm more concerned about the things that could happen with the ball and in tough field conditions. But so are they.
Q. Toronto fans have shown you some love in the past. Talk to us about what it's like to play in front of those fans and the kind of sort of fun they have had with you in the past.
KEVIN HARTMAN: Did you say Toronto fans?
KEVIN HARTMAN: You know I think one of the best things about getting older is you start to lose your hearing a little bit. So I'm able to kind of tune those guys out and kind of pick and choose. I actually enjoy it a little bit, the ribbing, because it allows me an impetus to go out and try and perform at a higher level.
I certainly have a lot of respect for the fans of Toronto. I actually got a little bit of schtick last night from the L.A. fans which was something that was a little bit new to me, but enjoyable nonetheless, and so I just look at it as a challenge, certainly want to go about my business and try to motivate the guys in front of me however I can do that. And really, just try to find some way to turn it and frame it in the proper way.
Q. Coach, I wanted to ask you about something you said right off the top and that was that every coach dreams of a performance like you had last night; that you really, that the team really showed up to play. How do you sustain that into a final, and do you have any concern that the team may have peaked a week early?
COACH HYNDMAN: Yeah, of course, as coaches, you always want that perfect game, and for many of us, we never get it. I thought last night was that perfect game. And so it was very, very hard to replicate that.
The good thing is, I think we are playing very well right now. And I think our players really believe in themselves. My job is just to make sure that the players are healthy and mentally focused to perform, and when you think about it, what team in the league would not like to be in Toronto this weekend, no matter what the temperature is.
In fact, I love Toronto. I think it's a great city. It's one of the best places, venues, I've ever been to as far as passion in the stands. And it's not just the passion of passion; it's knowledgeable passion. It's people that really know and love the game. It's very evident when you watch all year long what they have done.
But for us, our players will be there, and they will be at their best. Whether the game goes the way we hope it will go, or it doesn't go the way we want it to go; I think the one thing we can say is we will be at our best.
Q. When you signed David last year you talked about him being a difference maker for his Brazilian and Colombian club; did you expect him to be this much of a difference maker for FC Dallas?
COACH HYNDMAN: That's a great question. No, no, I never have these types of expectations. I just thought he would be a difference maker for FC Dallas. I didn't think he would be a difference maker to MLS soccer. And I know that's putting him up there with some of the great players like Landon and David Beckham and Angel and Henry and the list goes on and on.
But I think what he does for FC Dallas, it's really exceptional. This is a player that is the most solid player in the league and still gets up and gets on with business. He's a player that might have played the whole season except for maybe one moment because I wanted to take him off the field so the crowd could recognize him.
He's a player that shows up every day for training and leads the way for many of the young players. He's everything every coach wants and looks for. So to expect the difference that he's made this year, no. I never thought he would make this much of a difference.
Q. When you decided to leave the cocoon of college soccer and go into MLS, what was your reasoning behind it? Because, you know, the coaching mortality in this league, two or three years, even sooner, if you're not doing it, you're out. And also, when you had six wins after 30 games, did you ever tell yourself, 'What did I get myself into?'
COACH HYNDMAN: I'll start with that part first. Yeah, of course. I think any person who finds success in their comfort zone, especially when you start to put on more years in your life and you start to think about longevity and security, it was a great leap of faith. And I did it because Clark came to me and said, "We need you, we need you at FC Dallas." And history goes back to when Clark played for me when he was a college player at SMU. So I have a tremendous relationship with him and a great deal of respect for him and his family.
And I wanted to do something, I wanted to be challenged in something, because I could have you know, put had the rest of the next ten years in SMU, had a lifetime contract and been very secure and very happy. But like most people that are competitive, you always think about the challenges and you never want to look back on your life and say, I wish I had the courage to have done that.
The thing is, I appreciate both Clark and Dan giving me this opportunity, but I also appreciate even more that they stuck with me when things weren't going the way I had hoped and everyone else had hoped.
So it's been a great turnaround for us. But any coach can tell you, it just takes time to get your own players and get them to buy into what you believe in, and we have that here at FC Dallas and a big part of it is the leadership from our captain, Daniel Hernandez, and Kevin Hartman, Ugo, and the exceptional play and leadership from Ferreira, just to name a few.
Q. The Rapids, as a team, you have not beaten in 2010, tied them 1 1 there and tide them 2 2 at Pizza Hut Park. What particular problems does Colorado present to your team?
COACH HYNDMAN: I think I'll just speak real quickly and I'd like Kevin to have an input on this. I think they have probably arguably the best two strikers in the league with Casey and Omar. One, big and strong, very, very courageous, Conor Casey, with the first to the ball mentality.
The other one is Omar Cummings who is one of the fastest and most powerful players in the league. But then in the midfield with Jeff and Pablo, they have really made that team the engine of that team. And I think in the back, Drew Moor and Wynne, two solid defenders that complement each other, and of course, Pickens at the goal. That's just the spine of the team, the center of the team. You've got the support players on the side of the field, like the acquisition of Brian Mullan and Anthony Wallace, and, I mean, they are very, very good team.
KEVIN HARTMAN: I would just say this: They are very, very competitive at all levels of the field. I think that they are the type of team that's going to be competing for second balls. Alluded to the acquisition of Jeff Larentowicz this year and Brian Mullan, and I think are two guys, in addition to LaBauex, that really symbolize the work rate of that group. And we have to make sure that we match that. But I think that once again, you can't overlook the fact that they have quality throughout the team and we just have to make sure that we are respectful of them.
You said that we had not beat them this year but they haven't beat us this year. It's been two ties. So we certainly look forward to the opportunity to face them again this weekend.
Q. Do you think the matchup between the squads necessitate another lineup change for your team, something like you did against L.A.?
COACH HYNDMAN: I think likely what we will do is we will enjoy this game. I think the decisions the coaching staff made was right on for the L.A. game. And what we'll do is tomorrow, when we get back to the office, we'll draw up a game plan for Colorado.
The interesting thing with Colorado, they are very similar to us, you look at what happened this year, I don't think neither team really got the respect from the media or from people in the soccer world to be in the MLS Cup Final. The four or five people that in my family that chose FC Dallas in the final were probably the only four or five people that did that.
I'm sure Colorado could echo some of those same things, but when it comes down to it, both teams have played with a lot of character and a lot of heart. I think there will be some adjustments as you face a different opponent, but we'll be working on that tomorrow.
Q. The fact that there was so much attention on Real Salt Lake and L.A., how much did that help you, that maybe people weren't expecting a lot of you guys?
COACH HYNDMAN: Yeah, that's great, good question. I think people love the underdogs. We have never really made any noise. You know, we were a team that some people looked at it said, hey, you know what, watch out for this FC Dallas and there would be the naysayers that say they don't have any depth or a striker or a good goalkeeping or whatever it might be.
I think for a coach, it's a great motivational tool. And the motivational tool is, hey, you know what, we played well all year, and Kevin can even echo on this; I mean, all I said almost every game to the boys in the locker room, is you are a good team. You are a good team. I'd rather be coaching you than any other team in the league. You're a good team. Believe in it and go out and perform.
I think it's a wonderful motivational tool.
KEVIN HARTMAN: Well, I think for me personally, that we have been a group that has come out to work on a day to day basis and worked extremely hard. We have really set the tone for what we want to be as a group. We really feel like we deserve to be in this game. I think that there's a little bit of a motivating factor for some of the guys probably that want to disprove the naysayers.
But the reality is that we really think we deserve this. We have a lot of respect for the other players on the team. We feel like a close knit group. We are a family. We really want to do it for one another. And in the hubbub that goes along with the professional sports and the media and that whole thing, that's great.
But the reality is that we want to put trophies into the case. We feel really excited about the fact that we were able to do that last night with the Western Conference Championship.
But we have an opportunity next week to do something, and certainly, people are going to have to choose sides this week. You know, we certainly welcome them to come support FCD.
Q. What will you use as your motivation tactic this week? Because you're in the final, you're not really an underdog anymore.
COACH HYNDMAN: Yeah, we don't like that. It's a little unusual for us.
I think the motivation for us is what I said earlier. You know, we are a very good team and we dare to be a great team, because if you dare to be a great team, you've got to put it all out there. And great teams win championships. And that's going to be our motivation; you know, do we dare to put everything we have out there on that field, because it's scary. It's scary sometimes to do your best and still fail.
That's going to be the motivation all week is you worked awfully hard, all of the players that came before you are looking at you with pride, and all of the people in Dallas, you know, wants a championship.
So the thing that motivates this team is the team unity, and that they recognize the love that they have from their families that just want to share this moment with them.
Q. As a veteran player, can you talk about the character of this team, because obviously there was a slightly rocky start, and then the team went on this extended, unbeaten streak, which speaks to the character. Can you really talk about this team given that you've played for a few?
KEVIN HARTMAN: Yeah, I really identify this team in a way to the groups in Los Angeles when I won championships there. I think that we have a bunch of guys that are ready to step up and handle the pressure, and really relish the opportunity to help out the group. I think that for the past number of years, if I was down a goal in a game, there weren't very many teams that I played for that would come back the way that this team has.
I'm not sure what the percentages are, but this is a team that you can never count out. I think that that speaks about our passion, our willingness to give and to work for the team, and I also think it comes down to people stepping up when they are called upon. I think when we were down one nil up in Seattle and David Ferreira scores an unbelievable goal to get us the 1-1 tie. I think when we played up in Toronto, Marvin was able to score a wonderful goal and get us back into the game there too.
It's something where the praise deserves to be spread over everyone because everyone works very, very hard. This is the type of group that gets together again and has a reunion for a championship. And we certainly are going to give it our all next week.
I know that the question was asked about motivation; if you can't get motivated for an MLS Cup, then you have bigger issues than anything. You know, I think it's one of these things that this is what you dream about. This is an opportunity to do something that you have worked your entire life for. And it shouldn't be any difficulty, the weather shouldn't be any difficulty. This is one of these things where you've got one more week, you're going to lay it all on the line, injuries, everything aside, you're going to get into it and you're going to do whatever you can possibly do to help this group win; so that we can go down in the annals of history within MLS.
Q. You were floating around in a free agent in the off season and initially went to Dallas as a backup; how frustrating was that for you and did you feel you were playing with a chip on your shoulder this year?
KEVIN HARTMAN: I always try to keep things in a pretty positive frame of mind, and I felt that when I came to FC Dallas that I had the opportunity to come in and compete. And I was welcomed by the staff. I was welcomed by the ownership group, and I was welcomed by Dario Sala, and I think that meant a lot to me. I think that it allowed me to get out there; Dario and I have worked alongside one another, Drew Keeshan, the goalkeeper coach, has really I think gotten a lot out of me.
But I think that being a free agent and being in with the national team, I think in January and February, made me really doubt that I was done, but there was certainly a point where I was wondering what I was going to do next.
And Schellas came to me at an awkward time late in the preseason and was willing to give me an opportunity to continue to play. And so I really feel like on some perspectives, I'm playing on borrowed time, and sometimes it allows you to play a little bit freer and clear of mind.
I've really been enjoying my soccer this year. It's not very often in my career that I've been able to go as long as I have without having to deal with the losses. And when you've lived week to week by what the result is, it certainly has made for an enjoyable summer and an enjoyable playoff run.
Q. There's some talk last night that Kevin's performance got into the Galaxy's head after three or four huge saves in the first half they tightened up and felt like needed to do something spectacular to beat him; can you recall a performance from a goalkeeper like that and did you see it that way?
COACH HYNDMAN: Yeah, I think you're right, it was a situation where, what is it going to take to put this ball past the goalkeeper. And I think they had some great opportunities as I alluded to earlier in the talk. They are a very good team. They have got such great weapons and when you have got Landon coming at you one on one and Kevin makes a save to the far post and turns it into a corner kick, or even the defense coming up with a safe, there was some balls bouncing around there that could have ended up in the back of the net.
The thing about Kevin that makes him so special; not just his shot stopping and his experience; I haven't seen a goalkeeper that is as organized. He organizes his team. He organizes his team defense and he's a great communicator. We had one little hiccup yesterday when Jackson was heading a ball back to Kevin, and someone was coming on, Magee or Donovan, and almost took that ball off and scored a goal.
And Kevin was basically giving him the riot act, but at the same time, Jackson doesn't speak any English and I don't think Kevin spoke a lot of Portuguese. But that's one example of what happens when you don't have communication. That game yesterday was an exceptional game by Kevin. But quite honestly, it's just in addition to what he's been doing this year. You saw the game against Real Salt Lake and all of the pressure they put against us, a very good team, Rio Tinto, that was another exceptional performance by Kevin Hartman.
Q. You were so patient with Marvin because he suffered a couple of injuries last season and beginning of this season, but he has been playing great during the playoffs; how do you see him and what are your thoughts on Marvin right now, Coach?
COACH HYNDMAN: I think he's playing the best soccer since he's been at FC Dallas. When we brought him last summer from Marathón, it took a while for him to get acclimated to Dallas and bringing his family in. So I don't think we saw the best out of him.
But in preseason, he was very, very good. And he was very excited to be here. And then he unfortunately received an injury, a knee injury, and then when he came back, he picked up another injury, because being as competitive and as athletic and as quick that he is, it didn't take him long to pick up a third injury.
So he was very, very frustrated and there were times that he came to me and said to me, you know, if I'm hurting the team, I understand if you want to release me and I said, no, as long as you give me your best, things will work out.
That's the patience that you mentioned earlier, but I have to also say, you know, he never stopped trying. He never stopped training hard. He's always been a team supporter, and when we lost Brek Shea to the national team call up and the game suspension, it gave Marvin the opportunity to come out on the field, and he's just done a tremendous job.
I call him the 'Little Mosquito,' because he's little and he's so irritating, you know, like a mosquito is, and that's the way he is on the field. Every opponent that gets the ball is nervous when Marvin is around, because he's so quick, he's so competitive, he's so courageous. I think he's been outstanding these last four to six weeks.
Q. You played in this league for quite a while and against some of the best attacking players in the league history, and I don't want to label FC Dallas a one person team by any means, but can you give me an example or on appreciation of what David does for the team, and does he remind you of anybody you played with before in MLS?
KEVIN HARTMAN: You know, I think that one of the things that speaks pretty highly about David is I think his work rate is very good but his composure on the ball, I think everyone on the team recognizes that if they give him the ball, he's going to do something good with it. And you'll see everybody kind of looking towards him to create the game for us, and I think that shows a lot about the respect that the team has for him.
I would compare him maybe to few guys that I played with in the past, somebody that really understands the intricacies of the game and very, very athletic. I think his first few steps really allow him to get away from the lunge of an opposing defender and his ability to hold on to the ball is extremely frustrating.
I think in the game last night, when we were able to hold the ball from perhaps a 75th minute to the 85th minute down to the corner, and he won about six to eight throw ins and two to three corner kicks in a row, it shows how difficult it is to get the ball away from him. And he links the defense to the offense and he links wing to wing. He's really a complete player. He gets assists for us, but obviously scores goals as crucial times, as well.
Q. And Schellas, was there anything in particular you had to tell this team about the streak of not being beaten, because when key players start thinking about things, that's when these streaks tend to end. How did you handle that success during the season to keep your team on the right keel?
COACH HYNDMAN: You're right, because when you lose focus on what you're trying to do out on the field and you play scared for a streak, it can be difficult.
You know, we never really talked about it that much. I'm always looking for positive things to say to the guys so that when we go out on the field, their mind is set. And then if the streak was going, then I would really make a big thing about it after the game.
Sometimes guys weren't that excited about a tie. You know, they were upset that we didn't get a win, but I would turn that into a positive thing of still talking about, saying ‘but guys, our streak is still alive.’ And so I think, I really do think that this team is playing good soccer, probably about a third of the way through the season, they really started making things happen, and I think that this team, don't go out for awards, they don't go out for streaks. They go out for just having a good performance.
Q. Talk about David Ferreira; can you take talk about Daniel Hernandez and Dax McCarty and the role they played for you throughout the season, and in particular, last night, that allows Ferreira to do the things that he's very good at?
COACH HYNDMAN: Yeah, that's a great question. A lot of people of course will tune into Kevin and David. But the guy that really makes things happen for us is Daniel Hernandez. Daniel is a player with tremendous years of experience, as you know, he played for me at SMU, and he and his family and I go back a long way.
He's a wonderful captain, because it's not just the talk, but he also does the walk. He trains extremely hard. He's very motivating. Players can go to him, whether they are the Latino players or whether they are players just coming out of college. He has been there, where they are, and so he's a great leader.
But tactically, on the field, he's our holding midfielder, he's our screening prayer player in front of our back four which gives our full backs the opportunity to get into the attack. And you saw Jackson get forward quite a bit and Jair at times will also get forward quite a bit, but it's because Daniel Hernandez is there.
He also has one of the best kicking legs in the country, as you saw, he was taking the goal kick, because Kevin is still a little bit frustrated with the injury. But he can knock a long diagonal ball and he's just a ball winner. You don't get through Daniel Hernandez by playing physical. He'll stand up for his teammates and protect his teammates and he puts it all on the line every day.
And then of course McCarty is our in between midfielder where he attacks and defends, and I think he's played his best soccer of the year right now. I think he's playing with great confidence, and he's really understanding his role and how important it is that we do get balls forward and try to find day individual when he can and get to Real Salt Lake, he gets forwards, scoring that goal for us to take the lead there, as well.
So I think our central midfield, as well, our system, a lot of people will call it different ways but really it's a 4-1-4-1 with Daniel Hernandez as the one, and David as one of our central midfielders.
Q. Without giving away any secrets, Shea last night, is he the pop up in a number of different positions? Was he given a free be rein last night; was he just exuberant?
COACH HYNDMAN: I haven't heard that word in a long time, but I would agree with that one. You know what, our whole team has the freedom of going where they think they can go. We really try to work off the principles of the game and the principle of the game is that you want penetration, you want width, you want balance, and then we try to play to those principals.
So if you see a Shea on the right side, somebody is going to step into the left side whether it's Chavez coming over or Jair stepping up or McCarty coming out or you'll see Ferreira, very, very good at getting into those open spaces that come available.
I thought Shea had a very good game yesterday in the point that he was also dangerous when he got the ball and he made life miserable for the Galaxy defense.
Q. Just wanted to know, the irony here in the fact that two teams going to the final that I look up and down the roster and no designated player on either team, and just your thoughts on building a winning team. And for the Toronto fans, what is the status is for Jeff and getting into the conference final?
COACH HYNDMAN: I didn't hear you completely, but I'll try to answer. You tell me if this is what you asked, what do I think about both teams not having a designated player.
And the second part was about Jeff Cunningham, what was that?
Q. His status, not getting the final.
COACH HYNDMAN: I'll go to the first part. Designated player this year really got noticed the when teams started adding more designated players, for example, Red Bull, I think they have three designated players, L.A. may have two and so forth and so forth with other teams.
I hope it doesn't happen, but I think what will happen, is that you'll start to have a pretty uneven playing field, the ones who have and the ones who have not. David Ferreira is not a designated player, but he very well could be MVP of the league and plays like a designated player. And I'm sure other teams can say the same thing about their players. Pablo Mastroeni with Colorado and Omar Cummings.
So I don't know what to say about the designated player except that FC Dallas in particular, has played extremely well with what we consider more than one designated player on our field, that's not listed as designated player.
The second part to your question, Jeff Cunningham, it was a very, very long discussion the coaching staff had about playing Jeff Cunningham and starting him this game or not starting him this game. And we chose to go with the team for the reasons I mentioned earlier…But Jeff is another one of those players that I think is our weapons and he could very well, for the Toronto fans, end up starting for FC Dallas on Sunday.
So I would consider him very much a part of this team, and very likely to be in that lineup. And if he's not, he's had a tremendous season coming off the bench for us. He's a team leading goal scorer and sometimes, for Jeff, he can be extremely, extremely good at any moment, and we just have to catch him on that right moment.