FC Dallas have played away from home on nine occasions in 2010 and, with Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Colorado, Schellas Hyndman’s club has come away with at least a point in all but one of those matches.
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On Saturday afternoon at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, FCD took a 1-0 lead after a Rapids own goal in the 22nd minute. An Atiba Harris hand ball inside the visitors’ area set up a game-tying penalty kick by Mehdi Ballouchy about four minutes later.
In the end, FCD settled for another draw, their league-leading ninth of the year.
“It wasn’t one of our better games but it’s still a good result for us on the road. We gave the ball away way too often and I think we created some tremendous scoring opportunities that we couldn’t keep on the frame,” Hyndman said. “That was the disappointing part for me.”
The FCD manager, whose team is now unbeaten in eight straight matches, saw plenty of positives, most notably the fact that his players grinded out another point on the road.
“The positive part for me, besides getting the one point, was we’re a team that hasn’t gotten beaten in a while and we’re a team that plays with an extremely high level of intensity and character,” Hyndman said.
No player epitomized this workmanlike draw better than starting goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who finished the game with three saves, including several key stops to preserve the tie. The veteran keeper has now started 12 straight games for FCD and, in that time, has done exactly what his head coach expects from his starting keeper.
“I thought he was exceptional. Colin Clark hit that free kick perfectly into the corner and Kevin came out and handled that ball really well,” Hyndman said. “He was in extremely good positions and was called on to make some good saves. He’s becoming a difference-maker for us in games we would have ended up losing last year. I think Kevin is having an MVP season.”
Another starter who delivered a solid effort was rookie Eric Alexander, who got his first career start at the linking midfield spot as starter Dax McCarty continues to be sidelined with a strained right quadriceps. McCarty is normally a bit more involved in the attack than Alexander was today, but his coach still had nothing but good things to say about Alexander’s performance.
“I think we got a lot of energy out of Eric,” Hyndman said. “Eric was very conscious to help Daniel [Hernandez] hold his spot. Because of that, he wasn’t very effective with dangerous passes or getting forward and getting shots off. I think he was able to help us control the midfield. The thing I wanted from him was to be able to help on our defending phase and he did that.”
Being able to control the middle of the park with Alexander and Hernandez was a central theme to Hyndman’s game plan. Doing so allowed FCD to work the flanks effectively. In fact, on the Colorado own goal in the first half, it was left back Jair Benitez who delivered the ball that Rapids defender Julien Baudet inadvertently knocked into his own net.
“Our tactic was to try to control the center of the field and to exploit the flank midfield, especially with Marvell Wynne. We wanted Brek [Shea] down that side and we wanted Jair to get down that side,” Hyndman said. “Even though [Marvell Wynne] is very athletic, we felt like we’d be able to sneak a couple of balls past him and I thought we...were able to penetrate on that left side”
The FCD gaffer also lauded his center back tandem of Ugo Ihemelu and George John for the solid job they did on marking Rapids forward Omar Cummings, effectively taking him out of the game.
“Omar Cummings was really a non-threat today because I thought Ugo and George really played him well,” he said.
FCD will now prepare for their international friendly against Champions League winners Inter Milan to be held at Pizza Hut Park on Thursday, August 5. After that, FCD will return to league play on Saturday when they host the Philadelphia Union.