TORONTO – When FC Dallas traded 21-year-old Anthony Wallace to the Colorado Rapids for future draft picks on July 30, FCD were not thinking that the youngster would later be standing between them and an MLS Cup.
After all, Wallace had only 15 appearances during nearly four full seasons in Texas.
But manager Schellas Hyndman felt that FCD had sufficient depth at both fullback positions with the emergence of rookie Zach Loyd and Brazilian Jackson Goncalves. Starters Heath Pearce and Jair Benitez were immovable.
“Anthony had a great preseason and really looked like he was going to emerge and become somebody who was going to fight for playing time and a starting position,” said FC Dallas assistant coach John Ellinger, who coached Wallace in the US Under-17 residency program. “After Heath came back [from the US World Cup camp], we tried Wally at right back and he backed up a step or two.
“You never want to be that team that’s going to hold the guy back on his career because he wasn’t given a chance. It came down to timing being right and we had depth that the outside back position on both sides. We had the option to make the trade.”
Wallace, who played every position but goalkeeper as a kid, started out at defensive midfielder in early 2008 for then FC Dallas manager Steve Morrow. When Hyndman took over, Wallace says he did not know where he fit.
[inline_node:318684]“When Schellas first came, he said ‘I don’t really know where I want you,’” Wallace said. “Throughout his time, while I was there, it was back and forth. And then right before I got the trade, he was kind of like, ‘I want to see you more as a left back.’”
Although Danny Earls seemed to have a grip on the Colorado left back position early on, the Rapids were later unsettled at the position and Kosuke Kimura and Drew Moor offered cover. After just a month in Denver, it was Wallace who stepped in to claim the starting spot once and for all.
“He’s a really talented kid and has a high determination,” Kimura said about Wallace. “He’s athletic and, when he first started playing with us, he was a little bit off. But he’s a smart kid and he definitely suits our system. He’s one of the best left backs that we have right now.”
Wallace is not surprised that his former club has advanced all the way to the final. He says the way the Rapids plan to neutralize FCD’s potent attacking weapons is to prevent them from “playing through us.”
“There would be a lot of meaning to [beating FC Dallas in MLS Cup],” Wallace said. “Of course [I want to beat them]. I have friends on that team, but once you cross that line, friendship really doesn’t matter.”
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