This is the first installment of a weekly column featuring FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman. The third-year MLS coach addresses 11 topics in brevity, including everything MLS and beyond.
I. With the 2011 season now underway, Hyndman spoke about the challenges that MLS coaches are confronted with.
“This is maybe the hardest league to coach in because of the salary cap, draft, expansion and a lot of different things that coaches have to deal with.”
II-III. On the other hand, Hyndman’s players have many challenges to face on the field, such as the physicality of play. In 2010, David Ferreira logged 2,699 minutes out of a possible 2,700.
“I would like to give David rest this year. I think he’s going to need it because of the extra games, the extra competition that we added. Last year, we played 30 [games], not including the playoffs, and this year we may play 40, not including the playoffs.”
IV. However, throughout the season, injuries, yellow card accumulation, international obligations and also refereeing affect the moves a coach makes.
“I think what really affects teams like ours, because we aren’t a real physical team, is how well the officiating is. Is the officiating going to protect the player on the [ball]? If it does protect the player on the ball, I think David can go through the whole season.”
V. But one won’t catch Hyndman complaining about the officiating, even after Brek Shea’s red card against Chicago.
“Was it a straight red? I think the directive that we are getting from the league and the officials is more offensive play, protect the player on the ball.”
VI. Saturday’s game featured a sell-out crowd of 20,145. Throughout the week before the first game, Hyndman had told his players about the opportunity to play in front of such a large crowd.
“Our players were kind of expecting to see a good crowd. I thought that the ticket people did a fantastic job.”
VII. Two players making their first opening-day starts in front of the large crowd were Eric Alexander and Eric Avila.
“I think this is a big, big jump for them becoming a starting player in this league. I think they both did well enough to be looked at again.”
VIII. Defensively, Hyndman loves seeing his outside backs get forward, something that Jackson and Zach Loyd did frequently against Chicago.
“I think that is one of the trademarks of our team, that both our fullbacks do get very much involved in the attack and they are skillful players.”
IX. On the other end of the field, another player seeking a breakout year is forward Ruben Luna, a favorite of the FCD coaching staff.
“I like very much his finishing ability, his character, his hard work and his determination. I think Ruben’s that natural striker.”
X. One experienced veteran, Milton Rodriguez, has been asked by Hyndman to mentor Luna as he makes a name for himself in the league.
“I think that’s very important, for Ruben to be mentored by somebody who is such a good player and somebody who has such good character. I’ve already had my conversation with Milton and he acknowledges it’s something that he wants to do.”
XI. Lastly, with the US playing host to Argentina this weekend at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Hyndman has an opinion on the players called up.
“I think it will be very interesting to see how some of the MLS players do. I’m very interested in the Under-20s now that Ruben is with the Mexican Under-20s and Moises [Hernandez] is with the [US U-20s], and also [Fabián] Castillo [a member of Colombia’s U-20s]. I’m more concerned with that.”