Set piece glory
USA Today Sports Images

FCD attacking set pieces like never before in 2013

FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas are making a habit of turning set piece opportunities into goals, and their opponents are taking notice.

“[Vancouver] surprised us with a few of their starting lineup [choices] and I think that was to nullify our size in the air,” Schellas Hyndman told reporters after last Saturday’s match. 

Clearly the strategy didn’t work as Dallas’ opening tally was created off of a set piece, their league-leading fifth goal of the season to come from a corner or free kick.

Speaking after practice on Tuesday, Hyndman explained that a combination of factors are contributing to his squad’s set piece prowess.

“We’ve got the servers and we’ve got the big players that are courageous and go in and attack the ball," said Hyndman. "I’m surprised that we’ve scored five goals of thirteen off of set pieces...but you also work hard and you hope for it."

As the Dallas gaffer has mentioned on many occasions, dominating set pieces can be a tried and true formula for success in Major League Soccer.  The Houston Dynamo have ridden their set piece strength to two consecutive MLS Cup appearances, but while they have Brad Davis to deliver the ball regardless of which side of the field the kick is being taken from, Dallas switches things up, preferring to always set up an in-swinging kick with either David Ferreira (right) or Michel (left).

“One advantage of an in-swinger is it’s going right at the 'keeper and if there’s any mix-up (and we’ve seen this many times), the balls go in by themselves,” Hyndman pointed out. “An out-swinger will never go in the goal. Another advantage of an in-swinger is when people are hitting the ball, the ball is already going in that direction and it’s easier to get on top of it.”

According to Hyndman, the most important element of set-piece success is also the simplest: practice. You can see Dallas working on their set pieces in training the day before every match.

“We practice it quite a bit," said Hyndman. "We recognize that it’s one of our strengths.”