This year, it seems, Schellas Hyndman’s team has gone through great efforts to succeed away from home, especially since a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on April 17.
In 2009, FC Dallas were just 3-10-2 on the road. This season’s squad, however, currently sits at 2-1-4 and will look to add to that road record on Saturday, when they visit Toronto FC’s BMO Field, where they hold a 1-1-1 record.
Ever since that fateful loss to New York three months ago, FCD have gone unbeaten in six games (2-0-4) away from home. The club’s two wins came at Houston on May 5 – their first-ever victory at Robertson Stadium – and on June 26 at the Home Depot Center against Chivas USA.
Even though his team has righted the ship on the road since, Hyndman admits that New York loss is a game that remains fresh in his mind.
“The game that haunts me the most is the New York game, where we went over there and played so well,” the FCD gaffer said. “Then, we go into extended time and give them a PK with a silly throw-in. That haunts me, but look at where we are now. We have continued to hang in there and we’ve only lost two games.”
Even earlier in the year, when FCD was missing their share of scoring chances and often coming away with one point instead of the full three, Hyndman stayed on message, something he feels is now paying big dividends.
“I think this is one of the things that have helped this team,” said Hyndman. “I say two things to them constantly: One, you’re a good team; and two, you’re a good team on the road. You can’t say that about a lot of MLS teams. A lot of teams struggle on the road and we seem to be a team that comes out and plays pretty well. We go after teams and take away that home field (advantage), that comfort zone. It seems to be working.”
Two of his starters agree. Defender Heath Pearce currently leads FCD with five assists and he realizes that their loss in the Garden State was a turning point for him and his teammates.
“We had a lot of trouble in the Red Bull game with finishing chances,” Pearce recalled. “We had clearer chances and played much better than they did. I think we’re a team that doesn’t buy into the whole away games and away atmosphere."
“We know if we play our game in our system, teams are going to have to adjust to us if we stick to what we do well,” he added. “I think we’ve implemented that well on the road.”
FCD midfielder Brek Shea, who is now tied for the team lead in goals with four, was on the bench for the Red Bulls game. Even though he didn’t step on the pitch that day, he remembers the game quite well.
“It was a rude awakening,” the 20-year-old starter said. “I think we play really well on the road. Teams are expecting us to come out and sit back, but we go at them and it catches them off guard.”
After beating reigning MLS Cup champions Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Saturday at Pizza Hut Park, FCD now have 25 points and are firmly in third place in the Western Conference table.
A win on Saturday could allow them to inch closer to RSL, who is currently five points ahead of them in the West with 30 points.