No matter the sport, there are often decisions a coach makes that some like and others son't. That was definitely the case for FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Portland in Frisco.
The decision by the Dallas gaffer that has been so oft discussed is his call to bring on George John just before halftime for midfielder Bryan Leyva, the FCD homegrown player who had performed well in his first Major League Soccer start, even figuring in Blas Perez’s goal about midway through the opening half of play.
Hyndman discussed the ins and outs of his decision to pull Leyva for John after a recovery session on Monday morning and here’s what he had to say.
“The nice thing about people’s opinions is they all have one. If they would see the game the way I see it, from a tactical point of view... after we scored on them, they started picking things up, coming at us with numbers. They’re a big, strong, aggressive team and they are very good on flank play. There were a couple of times where Jair Benitez was marking [Kris] Boyd. That’s not good. I’m a coach looking at that. The guy with the opinion doesn’t see it. The other thing that happens is because they’re attacking so much, they’re getting fouled a lot. Now they’re getting a ton of free kicks.”
And it wasn’t like the call to bring on John was a snap decision by the ex-SMU coach. No, it was one he had been mulling over for the previous few minutes.
“Before I made the decision and I was already thinking about making the decision to get George on the field because we just needed height there, before I made that decision [Lovel] Palmer hit the post with a head ball. [Eric] Alexander missed the follow up because Daniel [Hernandez] got to it first. There was an open header by one of their players that missed the goal completely and another player ran through the box unmarked. This all happened in a span of five minutes. Any of those balls end up in the goal we might have lost the game.”
Of course, part of his thought process on making such a tactical switch centered around his desire to head into halftime with their 1-0 lead still intact.
“I wanted to go into halftime with a 1-0 lead and could I have done it... the timing, let Bryan Leyva play the half out and then make the change at halftime? Yeah, I could have done that, but I felt so confident that we were being exposed that it was my responsibility to make an adjustment and that’s why the decision was made to bring in somebody that could deal with Boyd or the big boys coming through and they had some big boys,” Hyndman said.
Hyndman even admitted there was one Timbers starter he and his staff were unprepared to see, Hanyer Mosquero, who made his league debut after his league paperwork went through the day before.
“Mosquero, the big defender they picked up, we weren’t prepared for him. He just got his approval to play in the league the day before and then [Eric] Brunner, their big, strong center back [was also a handful],” Hyndman said. “Whenever they had a free kick or a corner kick, their whole defense came up. All of them were big. That was the decision."
"Would I make that same decision again? Yeah, I’d make that decision again. The thing I didn’t like was that we lost out in our attacking force but with our attacking force, really the only thing we changed was Bryan Leyva. That was the only one changed and I thought surprisingly, Jair Benitez did a pretty good job [moving up to the midfield].”