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Big stakes in World Cup qualifying matches

FRISCO -- As FC Dallas prepares for Sunday’s must-win game at Seattle, one eye will be turned to World Cup Qualifying today as key FC Dallas players battle for their country’s lives across the region and the United States plays for the World Cup 2014 lives a few hundred miles up the road.

Head coach Schellas Hyndman had stiff words for the prospects of the United States in their do-or-die qualifier tonight in Kansas City against Guatemala.

“The US needs to qualify the way the standards are now and the number of teams being selected from our CONCACAF region,” Hyndman said. “I think we have to not only qualify, but be one of the top one or two.”

For many of the younger players on the FC Dallas roster, the United States qualifying for a World Cup is something they’ve known their whole lives, but goalkeeper Kevin Hartman knows how the mentality of things has changed since that famous qualifying run in 1990.

“I think obviously the level of expectation has changed tremendously since 1990 when [Paul] Caligiuri hit the shot heard round the world in Trinidad and Tobago when we were a bunch of college kids playing against professionals…” Hartman, a veteran of the US Soccer scene said.

“It didn’t look very pretty last week and so now there’s another opportunity only four or five days [removed] to go play in Kansas City and get a result.”

Canada, Panama look to advance

Canadian midfielder Julian de Guzman leads a Canada side that, with a win or draw at Honduras, will move to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying for the first time since 1998. Speaking to reporters in San Pedro Sula yesterday, de Guzman called today’s match “probably the most important game of our lives.”

For Blas Perez and Panama, advancing to the hexagonal round of qualifying is nearly a formality with only a catastrophic run of results needed to eliminate the Panamanians from qualifying.

FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman knows that while losing a player to injury during World Cup Qualifying is always a worry, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

“There’s only one thought [when players leave for qualifying matches], you want them to do well,” Hyndman said. “You want them to do well because that’s going to continue to inspire them and inspire their teammates. The players work so hard for these opportunities and to qualify for the World Cup.”

“I can’t think of a bigger dream for any player, so you want them to do well.”