Soccer Sensei Q&A - May 20, 2011

It’s Jimmy Buffett weekend at the Oven, so there are tons of RVs, golf carts and guys in pirate gear around the complex. But FC Dallas has a game on Sunday night against Real Salt Lake. Caught up with the gaffer after training on Friday and here’s what he had to offer.

Q: What do you know about your opponent in the CONCACAF Champions League, Alianza FC?

Hyndman: I don’t really know that much about them. I know that they’ve qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League and are going through that phase, the preliminary phase, like we are. I know that they won the Salvadoran championship last year and they’re classified as one of the better teams coming out of El Salvador yearly. So I don’t know much about them except for what I’ve read. But we’ll know a lot more about them before we play them.

Q: Do you think Real Salt Lake will use revenge as a motivator this weekend?

Hyndman: I’m sure it will be maybe mentioned but the thing that I know about motivation is that you always want motivation moving forward. You don’t want to be talking about the past for motivation because there’s nothing you can do about the past. So, you come in with an anger-hey, they’re the ones that eliminated us. Let’s go out and kick their butts. I don’t know how long that stays in your mindset but if you have the motivation of let’s beat these guys so we can move into No. 1 and that’s all in front of you, then I think it’s easier to stay here. I know when we played Colorado, some people talked about it but I played it down. We talked about they’re a Western Conference team and they’re ahead of us. Let’s change the standings.

Q: How does losing Javier Morales affect RSL the most?

Hyndman: I think it affects them as losing David to us. Morales is definitely one of the best players in the league, all-star caliber. Last year when we went down there and beat them on their field, he was red carded. He didn’t play and that helped us. He gets more touches than anybody on their team, very seldom gives the ball away, a difference maker. Losing him, other people have to step up like our guys are stepping up without David.

Q: Which of your players do you feel warrant all-star consideration?

Hyndman: I think people who have stepped up and played what I consider a level, an expectation of what we hoped for out of them and then a player who maybe excels. I think Kevin Hartman. I think both Ugo and George as two center backs, Daniel Hernandez and then I would put Brek Shea in that category. And from what Chavez is doing now, he’s on a complete tear and Castillo, a young player, I think we have a lot of pretty nice players for people to consider. I would put those players on my short list.

Q: Do you feel like Hartman is a candidate for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year?

Hyndman: We gave up quite a few goals earlier in the year, three against Portland. It’s probably been a long time since he gave up three goals. But I think our most recent runs, he’s been outstanding. It is early. Let us get through this second phase of our games. We’re trying to put our season into units of 10. We just finished our first 10 games with 17 points, which puts us ahead of where we were last year after 10 games. The middle bracket is where we really want to focus. Everybody focuses on the end but we want to focus on the middle bracket, realizing that we’ve got a lot more than 30 games.

Q: What do you feel like you’ve gotten out of the reserve games thus far?

Hyndman: I think it’s given players opportunity to play. It’s really hard and I’ll use Peri Marosevic as an example. It’s really hard when you go through this past year when you didn’t play. We loaned him out to get him games, so I think that’s a big game. From the coaching point of view, we can develop players so that they can play in those reserve games. This week of training was very good because we had very specific things we wanted to hit on and I think we did a pretty good job with it. So we’re happy with what we got done and I think what the reserve game does, especially now with the CONCACAF Champions League and the US Open Cup, there are so many more games the players need to be prepared when we ask them to get on the field.

Q: What specifically have you been focusing on this week in training?

Hyndman: We’ve really focused a lot on coordination-coordination between the two strikers, coordination between the flank and a striker, coordination between the central midfielders, the flank and the strikers. So we’re really spending a lot of time on coordination and keeping the ball as a team better.

Q: Benitez remains on the side and isn’t practicing. What is his outlook for traveling on next week’s road trip?

Hyndman: I think the doctor’s diagnosis when they did the X-ray and MRI was three or four weeks and we’re just hitting three weeks now. So I think he’s right on track.

Q: How do you think Zach Loyd has fared filling in for Benitez in the meantime at left back?

Hyndman: Very good, I think we were very, very pleased to have Zach available when we drafted him. Watching what he did for Chapel Hill with the strong play and the confidence that he brought, especially in his senior year when they ended up winning, I think coming into this environment like for most players has been an adjustment. What he was able to do last year was play. He got on the field and contributed. What he’s doing this year now is contributing to play and is much more relaxed about correcting his downsides or his mistakes. I see improvement within him weekly.

Q: Bobby Warshaw has come off the bench late on several recent occasions. How do think he has performed?

Hyndman: Good player, it always comes back down to the speed of the game and the physical play of the game. I think he’s going to be OK on the physical play. He’s a big, strong, athletic boy that doesn’t shy away from contact. It’s the speed of the game that makes me a little bit nervous. It’s not only the speed of play, it’s speed of thought. The only way we’re going to get him seasoned is to get him more and more involved. Now he’s becoming more of a regular in our top 18, which gives him now an opportunity to get on the field.