NEW YORK — There were plenty of doubters back in 2008, when FC Dallas hired Schellas Hyndman as coach. Despite his success as coach at Southern Methodist, many observers questioned whether Hyndman could make the leap up to the pro game.
Two years later, those questions have been answered.
On Thursday, MLS announced Hyndman as the 2010 Coach of the Year following an astounding season that saw FCD rip off a 19-game unbeaten streak and earn their first postseason berth since 2007.
Hyndman, who coached SMU for 24 years and led the Mustangs to the College Cup three times, took over the reins at FC Dallas in June 2008, after the club sacked Steve Morrow.
At the time, FCD were 4-5-4, underperforming despite plenty of talent and reportedly struggling with a divided locker room. Under Hyndman that first year, they finished the season 8-10-12, in fifth place in the Western Conference.
But he was still building the side in the style he wanted—one that encouraged attacking from the flanks and rugged defending in the center of the back line.
In 2009, FCD started slowly before finally gelling and making a furious second-half run behind the goal-scoring form of striker Jeff Cunningham, whom Hyndman had acquired late the previous season. Dallas nearly made the playoffs but fell short by a point.
Other players to come in since Hyndman took over include midfielder David Ferreira, captain Daniel Hernandez, defenders Ugo Ihemelu and Heath Pearce, and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. Under Hyndman, several young players have also begun to blossom, including winger Brek Shea, who earned his first cap after showing his quality, and George John, a big center back who has become an integral part of FCD’s defense.
These players today form the core of the FC Dallas side that finished third in the Western Conference and suffered just four losses, tying a league record for fewest losses.
Most importantly, FCD are also still alive in the playoffs after knocking off the defending champions, Real Salt Lake, in the first round. FCD now face the LA Galaxy on Sunday (9 pm ET, ESPN2) in the Western Conference Championship.
MLS Coach of the Year Winners:
2010: Schellas Hyndman – FC Dallas
2009: Bruce Arena – Los Angeles Galaxy
2008: Sigi Schmid – Columbus Crew
2007: Preki – Chivas USA
2006: Bob Bradley – Chivas USA
2005: Dominic Kinnear – San Jose Earthquakes
2004: Greg Andrulis – Columbus Crew
2003: Dave Sarachan – Chicago Fire
2002: Steve Nicol – New England Revolution
2001: Frank Yallop – San Jose Earthquakes
2000: Bob Gansler – Kansas City Wizards
1999: Sigi Schmid – Los Angeles Galaxy
1998: Bob Bradley – Chicago Fire
1997: Bruce Arena – D.C. United
1996: Thomas Rongen – Tampa Bay Mutiny