FC Dallas’ first playoff training session since the 2007 season began with a silent focus. While the starting 11 from Sunday night’s 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy completed a recovery session on an adjacent field, the FC Dallas reserves ran through a combination drill on the adidas Field this morning at 10 a.m. Intertwined with the reserves, team captain Daniel Hernandez and center back Ugo Ihemelu led the team through the motions. The only voice that could be heard was FC Dallas Assistant Coach Marco Ferruzzi directing the drill.
“I feel like the whole team is excited,” midfielder Eric Avila said following practice. “We’re focusing more. We’re working harder for one another.”
Combination Passing Drill
What began as a simple passing drill between four players in the shape of a square grew into a more complicated combination passing drill. The third variation of the drill required the services of goalkeeper Josh Lambo. Alternating from the corner flags, players would knock a ball out to the flank, where an outside midfielder would send a ball into a target forward. After making the pass to the forward, the outside midfielder would make a run inside the target forward. Getting the return pass from the forward, the outside midfielder would hit a shot on goal.
The fourth part of the drill shifted the point of attack to the flank, requiring service into a striker. The highlight of the drill was a ball Avila played into Milton Rodriguez. The forward slowed his run to set up a one-timer and struck a ball high to the left side of goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. The goalkeeper was quicker than the strike and managed to tip the shot over the crossbar – a great sign for FC Dallas heading into a hostile home-and-away series with Real Salt Lake.
FC Dallas’ Kevin Hartman is one of only two goalkeepers in MLS history to emerge victorious from Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto Stadium. While with the Kansas City Wizards, Hartman made seven saves in a 2-0 Wizards victory on May 16, 2008. Former New York Red Bull goalkeeper Danny Cepero (currently with USL Second Division club Harrisburg City Islanders) is the only other goalkeeper to win in Rio Tinto. Cepero made seven saves in a 1-0 New York win on Nov. 15, 2008. He is the only goalkeeper to win in Rio Tinto Stadium in the playoffs.
Defender Zach Loyd on this evening’s playoff bash at Mockingbird Station
"I’m looking forward to tonight. It will be a great opportunity to interact with the fans."
FC Dallas Head Coach Schellas Hyndman on Real Salt Lake
"They’re obviously a very good team. They really turned it on at this time of the season last year. They have been able to carry that momentum throughout this season."
Hyndman on FC Dallas heading into the playoffs
"This team has exceeded expectations. They’re special. They’re going to get that magic back."