Talkin 'Bout Practice-April 28, 2011

FC Dallas was on the stadium field at Pizza Hut Park for Thursday morning’s session. Normally, the gaffer likes to get on the big pitch the day before a home game but with EdgeFest invading the Oven on Saturday, this morning marked the only time before Sunday night’s tilt with the LA Galaxy that FCD will get a chance to practice on the game field.

As for injuries, nothing much to report except that Colombian wunderkind Fabian Castillo missed today’s session with what we hear is a right hamstring issue. Castillo collided with the Vancouver goalkeeper during Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Whitecaps and had to leave the field early. The Soccer Sinsei talks about his injury a bit more in depth below.

But the big news was that a possible 4-4-2 shift might be in the works now that No. 10 David Ferreira is out for at least the next two months with a fractured leg suffered in Saturday’s win. Of course, Hyndman is holding his cards quite close to the vest as expected but in today’s session, Milton Rodriguez and Ruben Luna were paired up top while the central midfield featured the tandem of captain Daniel Hernandez and Andrew Jacobson.

However, there are still two days of training left this week, so this may or may not be the look fans see when David Beckham, Landon Donovan and company visit PHP on Sunday night. Some think Eric Avila might get the nod in Ferreira’s spot while others see the more-experienced Ricardo Villar as getting the highly-coveted opportunity. Wait and see is all we can say. So without further delay, here is a Q&A with the gaffer.


On the 10-game suspension Brian Mullan got for his hard tackle on Steve Zakuani

“I think it’s a tough one for any coach to make a comment about any type of suspensions, especially when it’s not even your player. But I do think the directive from the league was to protect the player on the ball and I keep going back to that statement. That’s Zakuani. That’s Ferreira. That’s Castillo, Mullan. That’s for anybody, anybody with the ball, I think we have to protect. Injuries like these last two with Ferreira and Zakuani, I think just brings that back to the surface again.”

On the tackle that took Ferreira out on Saturday

“Jonathan Leathers is not a dirty player. He worked as hard as he can to block the cross that could have led to the goal. He left his feet and unfortunately, was a hard, behind-the-ball tackle but no foul was called.”

On if he plans to petition the league to punish Leathers for said tackle

“No, I’m going to get involved with any type of area that’s not my domain.”

On his thoughts on Ferreira’s absence and who could replace him

“That void, it’s not just a void. He’s played every minute since he’s been here. MVP of the league. He’s a player that’s the most fouled player in the league because people know he makes this team move. Without him, we really need not just one player to step up but we need the whole team to kind of step up and raise their level.

It’s fine on the chalkboard and it’s all fine in the locker room but those are just plans. The action’s on the field. If we don’t have good action on the field, it’s just a hallucination, just dreaming.”

On Ferreira’s situation

“I think from what I now is that he’s still interviewing potential doctors and the swelling’s going down, which is important. And then once he’s made his decision on who he would like to do the operation, then I’m sure he’ll go through the process.”

On the biggest pro of switching to a 4-4-2

“The biggest pro is you’ve got two people up front, a little bit more of a strike force-two people who are hanging up in the box and maybe getting on knockdown balls and so forth. I think you look at most teams, most teams are playing in the 4-4-2 and most teams are playing in the 4-4-2 with two pretty good forwards.”

On if Jacobson can play the No. 10 role

“I don’t know. I think this is always an opportunity. Ricardo Villar could fill that role. Eric Avila could fill that role. We can go with two strikers-Milton and Fabian if he’s healthy or Ruben and Galindo could fill in. It’s always that analogy I use about a poor man’s blanket. You’ve got to give something up and what are you prepared to give up?”

On if he feels Avila is better on the wing than he is in a more central role

“I don’t know if we’ve ever had a situation where we had him inside because we’ve always had David, so it was hard to measure him on the inside. When he did play in the middle, in the midfield, he always played along with David. He never was in that position.”

On Castillo’s injury status

“I think he’ll be fine. We’re hoping that he’ll be fine for this weekend. He took a pretty bad hit with the goalkeeper that took him out of the game. He has a very sore hip pointer but we’re training him. He was unable to go today but it looks like he’s getting a little bit more comfortable in opening up and sprinting.”

On if Castillo has adjusted well

“Yeah, I think he’s adjusting to the team. I don’t know if he understands the play of the league yet-the athleticism, the physical play, the officiating, the demands on the road. I don’t know if he understands those type of things but again, he’s 18 going on 19. He shows us some wonderful moments. What we’re trying to do is extend those moments into a longer period of time.”

On if he’s getting enough consistency from Chavez thus far

“I think Marvin came in probably the best player in preseason and I think he was probably the most fit and the most prepared because he was with Honduras national team and training. So he came into preseason game sharp. Everyone else is catching up and I think that’s probably what you’re seeing. That inconsistency is everybody else is catching up.”

On what he told the team after Ferreira’s injury

“The thing is, you can only beat up players to a point. You have to be able to give facts and reality. The fact is that David is injured and he’ll be missing part of the season. How much of that I don’t know. But the fact of it is that he’s the MVP of the league and the player that everyone is trying to stop that earned the most-fouled player in the league. Those are the facts.

We will look for players and we’re challenging players to step up their game. Yes, we have depth. We have players that we can come in and fill but it’s kind of ridiculous to say we have someone on our team that can replace David. That’s the BS part that you want to stay away from. There’s going to be life without David. Everybody’s just going to have to pick up their game a little bit and if it’s just five percent. If all you can give is another five percent, we’ll take it. Five percent across the board, if everyone gives five percent more, then we’re looking at another 55 percent of our team’s level being raised. I’m really anxious and looking forward to the game because I think this is another opportunity to evaluate ourselves.”

On if the referees have done a good enough job of protecting players on the ball

“It’s not really me. It’s our president, Doug Quinn. It’s our ownership. I think it’s other coaches in the league because this wasn’t just a David Ferreira injury. The night before, it was a Steve Zakuani injury and I thought that game was officiated very well because there was a red card given immediately and a player was hurt.

In our game, I think Jonathan Leathers went for the ball the best way he could. It was a hard, aggressive tackle. It was a tackle that was from behind and I know for certain there was no intention of hurting David. Jonathan Leathers is not a so-called dirty player. He’s an aggressive player and he didn’t want to get the ball across. I think the fact that the referee did not call a foul is a statement in itself. I think that’s about as clear and as much as I can talk about it.”

On being on the stadium field on Thursday instead of the day before the game

“Yeah and this is why we came out tonight because of the concert, we can’t come out on Saturday because they’re going to lay it down. But we wanted to get on it. Last year, we were able to put it into policy that we were on it the day before the game.”

On what Villar could bring if he starts at the No. 10 spot

“I think Ricardo’s a very skillful player. For one thing, he’s a very skillful and a very technical player. He’s also another experienced player. The question marks come to the adjustment to the league-the speed of play and the intensity, the physical play and being a two-way player. Those are question marks but at least he’s got a good head start by being skillful and experienced.”

On how possible a switch to the 4-4-2 is

“We’re looking at it. It makes sense not having a player like David there and maybe not having a player that can carry that load, it makes sense to go with two strikers. But it’s also a change of system. It’s a change of shape and it may take more than two or three days of training.”

On if it makes more sense to shift into a 4-4-2 now that David is out of the lineup

“On the chalkboard, in the locker room and coaches’ meetings, yes. Does that transfer into what’s happening on the field? I’m not quite sure.”

On how much he likes the tandem of Hernandez and Jacobson in the central midfield

“I think it’s been a nice combination. We lost a very good player in Dax McCarty because he was a box-to-box player. But I think at the end of the year, Dax McCarty scored two goals and then if you look historically, Dax was a player that was a great connector. He wasn’t a good defending midfielder and he wasn’t a good attacking midfielder but he was a great connector.

I think what Andrew brings is the potential to be that good connector but he just brings a little bit more size and with some of the smaller and younger players out there, he helps us.”

On if he feels like his back four is now set

“Yeah, outside of Heath Pearce, this is our back four. If you think about our game against LA last year without Heath Pearce whenever he was serving a game suspension and then when we got back, he pulled a hamstring on fitness running, we missed him the whole playoff series. This is really the same back four from the whole playoff series.”

On what kind of atmosphere he expects on Sunday night vs. the Galaxy

“I give complete credit to our marketing and sales department who worked awfully hard to sell all the seats. I think they’re obviously one of the best teams in the league. They’re the Supporters’ Shield champions. We took away the Western Conference championship from them. A lot of emotions maybe coming into this game and I’m really looking forward to this game because it’s a great opportunity to evaluate our team against a good opponent and how our team needs to continue to improve without David Ferreira.”