Since FCD didn’t practice on Tuesday and since they head to Columbus tomorrow in advance of Friday’s match at Crew Stadium, today’s training was the last true meaningful sessionof the week and there’s plenty to discuss.
In the back, Brek Shea is in contention again at center back with Ugo Ihemelu getting some work for Jackson on the right side. Ihemelu played right back almost exclusively during his time under Hyndman at SMU but has played more of a central role during his time in MLS.
Based on what we saw today, Hyndman seems to be contemplating starting Jackson at the linking midfield role in place of Eric Alexander. The gaffer discusses that spot in a bit more detail in the quotes section but it’s safe to say he’s underwhelmed by what he’s gotten in the first two weeks from Alexander.
On the left flank, it looks like rookie Fabian Castillo is competing with Ricardo Villar to start. Villar was pretty forgettable out there against San Jose and the quick Colombian might get the nod, although Hyndman isn’t totally convinced it’s time.
But the hits don’t stop coming there. Up top, this Friday’s tilt at the home of the Black-and-Gold could mark the first start for one Ruben Luna. He worked with the first team during the last part of training today and could get the nod over Milton Rodriguez.
Catching up with Schellas Hyndman
How do you think the first two games of the season went?
"I think first of all, tremendous work by the front office getting fans out here supporting our team.
I made the comments today to our players that I think our first game I felt like we could’ve and should’ve won but we didn’t. You go 35 minutes a man down and you’re also going into a game with Jair Benitez suspended. So, you’re already having some difficulties getting your rhythm and getting the players you want on the field.
Second game, I thought again we’re down a man. This time it’s Brek. I don’t think we played very well that game but you saw the second half of the game where we didn’t put the ball in the goal. And if you don’t put the ball in the goal, it’s hard to come back from being down. The other phase to it all is you’ve got to score goals and you’ve got to stop having goals scored on you."
In the spring you commented that maybe Galindo wasn’t idea for the loan striker in your system, has your opinion changed?
"Yeah, it has. The last couple of games we played in Arizona, he looked pretty good there. We may not stay with the lone striker. Now that we have Castillo and if we get Maykel, you always have to understand that if you change something, you have to be prepared to give something else up at that point."
Any thoughts on how the three central midfielders have done?
"I think what ends up happening is you know Daniel Hernandez is one of those central midfielders. You know David Ferreira is one of those central midfielders.
So, now the connecting spot is a spot I don’t think we’ve completely settled on whether it’s Eric Alexander, whether it’s Andrew Jacobson. It could be Bobby Warshaw. It could be Ricardo Villar. It could be Jackson.
We were looking at Jackson a little bit today because he brings a little bit of speed, on-the-ball skill, very athletic with that speed. Right now, I think it’s a position we haven’t settled in on. I think after the performance from Castillo the other night, you could say we’ve probably settled in on the left side. So, we’re still looking for that one spot.
If Brek Shea doesn’t come through as a center back, he could go to left midfield and we could go back to the 4-4-2. So, there’s a lot of things we can do. I think we are a talented team. I think we’re a team that works on both sides of the ball and I think we’re a team that’s athletic, so we want to use those areas to our strengths."
Is Castillo ready to start?
"He’s coming off a very good club team, Cali, and he’s been a starter for them for the last 7-8 months, so he’s already come along. It’s a very good league, a very athletic league and a very physical league. What we don’t want to do is hurt him but we also don’t want to put so much pressure on him that if he fails, then you have to do a lot of recovery with him."
Is Castillo you’re best option on the left side now?
"I think it’s a big part of why we went and got him. I’ve already stated I think he’s a player that needs to be there but we also need to be cautious that we don’t put him out there too soon."
Is Ugo Ihemelu fit enough to start again?
"Yeah, I talked to him. I think he was a little surprised and a little disappointed that he didn’t play the last game. As I explained to him, when game time comes around, everybody’s ready. They’re anxious to play and they’re motivated. But watching him in training and watching him in Tigres, I could still see a little bit of hesitation. It’s also a great motivation for an experienced player to say I didn’t play the last game, maybe I should pick it up some."
What’s Ihemelu’s comfort level at right back?
"When he was at SMU, that’s what he played and he was very good there. He’s come into the center back position because of necessity, the teams he’s been on and the desires that people want his athleticism. But he’s also a good right-sided player. With him going on the right side, it gives us a little bit of an opportunity to do something different with Jackson."
Does Ihemelu provide enough going forward for your system?
"Yeah, I think he has that ability to get forward and serve the ball. He just maybe a little bit more disciplined about getting back."
How’s Ruben Luna’s progression, could we see him start soon?
"He continues to add more and more. It’s tough being a lone striker, I know that but the one thing he brings is he’s a good finisher. He’s a physical player who can take the body hits, is strong in the air and he also has that power run. There’s one guy who might be faster but Luna’s one guy who when he runs, he has pretty good speed but he’s also very strong, so he has that powerful run where it’s hard to knock him off the ball. So, he could be ready or in a month, two months or whatever."
Are you getting what you need up top form Milton Rodriguez?
"Milton’s giving us 100 percent. I don’t he had particularly the type of game that we expected out of him as far as performance or production I should say and he knows that. That doesn’t mean we’re giving up on him. Every player has responsibilities that in that game with those opportunities we’re thinking it should be a little bit better. He thinks it should be better."