FRISCO, Texas — FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman was asked about Heath Pearce’s chances of being on the field at right back for Saturday’s playoff opener against Real Salt Lake.
The FCD manager was mum in his response, commenting simply that Pearce was one of several options he had there. Rookie Zach Loyd had been working with the first team at that spot during Thursday’s practice.
Most of Friday’s session was closed to the media, but the part that was open saw Pearce on the sidelines.
“He has a strained hamstring,” Hyndman explained. “He hurt it on Monday.”
[inline_node:318519]“We’ll have to wait and see how he is for tomorrow.”
Loyd appears to be Hyndman’s first choice at right back, but Jackson Gonçalves could also be an option. The Brazilian is dealing with a hamstring issue, and could be shelved. He was seen riding an exercise bike during the open portion of training on Friday.
“Again, we’ll re-evaluate tomorrow,” Hyndman said when asked about Jackson’s status.
Still No Decision in Goal
Hyndman was also asked if he had decided on whether Kevin Hartman or Dario Sala would start in goal.
“No, that will be a game decision,” Hyndman responded. “I think we’re definitely leaning in one direction but we’ll make that decision on gameday.”
Sala is bothered by a hip injury suffered in the season finale at LA on Sunday night while Hartman could be rusty since he hasn’t played since Sept. 16 after suffering an MCL sprain.
“Yeah, [Sala] is still a little concerned about it [his hip],” the FCD gaffer said. “That factors into all our decision making. The thing is [Hartman] hasn’t played in a while. But he has been in practice and has played for 14 years.”
A Tough Call
On Thursday, Hyndman floated the possibility of FCD rolling out a new 4-4-2 formation with Jeff Cunningham and Milton Rodriguez paired up top to offset a possible defensive approach by RSL in the first leg. The chances of that shift occurring appear to be dwindling.
[inline_node:316904]“The tough decision is once you change your structure, people get a little confused about what you’re doing, who’s covering the space and spaces get a little bigger,” Hyndman said. “When you’re in a tight shape, you deny people entrance balls and deny people time, which is pressure.
"Once you take somebody out of one of the segments of the field, which is the middle third, it gives the opposition a little bit more time and space. If you take a guy out of the defense and play with three in the back, you give them a little bit more time and space," explained Hyndman. "It’s what are you prepared to give up and then what are you going to get out of it?”
A Solid Week of Preparation
FCD didn’t return from their regular-season finale against the LA Galaxy until Monday afternoon, but they practiced Tuesday before taking Wednesday off. That gave them just three full days of practice before their playoff opener.
“It’s been a good week of training,” Hyndman said. “We’re trying to taper off a little bit and not do too much. We’re trying to save our energy for tomorrow and this playoff series. So the practice has been toned down a little bit. We’ve gone away from a lot of intensity and a lot of hard work to keep the legs fresh.”
FCD have given up multiple goals in five of their last seven games.
“We worked a little bit on our defending and our defending shape as we go into these very important games,” Hyndman said.
The FCD manager hasn’t seen his team too loose or too tight in their demeanor heading into their first game of the postseason.
“It’s really been the same,” said of his team. “I think part of it is the coaches have tried to keep the same demeanor and not get too tied up because if we get tight, antsy and jumpy, I think it will be a reflection to the team.
“Yes, it’s a new season, but we’ve been down this road since Feb. 2, so let’s keep it going.”
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