In part 2 of our exclusive interview with Schellas Hyndman, he opens up a bit about Eric Alexander's rollercoaster ride of a season last year, FCD's need for another forward in 2011, gives us a cheeky Super Bowl prediction and answers the question on everyone's mind....will the butter leather jacket return in 2011? If you haven't read part 1 of our interview yet, I would do that first as we pick up right where we left off.
How important is this pre-season for guys who maybe didn’t play last year but are looking to step up this year, players like Andrew Wiedeman and Peri Marosevic?
I think it’s always important with first impression. It is pretty much a reality check…Andrew Wiedeman for example, I took the Generation Adidas group to Spain and I played Andrew Wiedeman as a right back because we needed more defenders there but at the same time we’ve been training him for four or five months there as a right back because we have so many attacking players.
Andrew’s thing was "coach I just want to get on the field and play, if this is where you think I will have the biggest opportunity to play then I want to be here" but going back to the question, it’s important for players to make a good impression in pre-season, they’ve worked hard they’re ready.
They have an opportunity to step up and get more and more playing time against the MLS teams in pre-season to show what their value is. Some players are just not ready and the other players get their opportunity and they excel.
An interesting story was Eric Alexander. I thought he had a very good pre-season last year. He was picked low in the draft and he came in and you’re not real sure if the guy is even going to make the team.
He came in and have a very good pre-season I remember down in Disney I pulled him aside and I said "Eric I want you to know I’ve made a decision that we’re going to sign you" and he was so excited "because you’ve really come in prepared and gone beyond my expectations now enjoy the rest of your pre-season and now that you’re on the roster see if you can get in the top 18."
Then we hit a point 3 ½, 4 months into the season and I brought him back into my office and said "Eric what’s going on, you’ve hit a wall. Right now you had such a good preseason, the season is off and running and you’ve hit a wall. I think your body is not prepared for the 9 months that we go but I’m a little surprised you’re hitting the wall after four months."
I said "I have an opportunity to loan you out to a USL team so I want you to think about that" and he said "Coach I don’t really need to think about it, getting games would be fantastic, but the thing I’m worried about is I wouldn’t be under your daily vision and how am I going to get a chance to play next year if I’m I don’t get a chance to work with you this year" I thought that was a really mature statement…you don’t hear college kids talk like that you know?
So within a month Dax McCarty got hurt, we went with a group of players who didn’t really fill the need we were looking for so in the middle of a game I told Eric to go on in. He went in and he was outstanding and I think he ended up starting the next seven games and he had a great year with the fact that he got called into Bob Bradley’s national team as one of the younger players
…I think what ended up happening is if I would’ve sent him off to the USL team it would have been a lost opportunity for him but because he was mature enough to say I need to be under your watchful eye, I listened to him and I encouraged him to pick up the work ethic because you never know when one day you’ll be thrown out there and if you’re hitting a wall and I throw you out there that’s the last impression I’m going to have of you.
Instead he worked so hard, stayed after training, went to Michael Johnson, did all those other things so when he did get his opportunity, what a great story. He embraced it and scored some great goals for us as a rookie picked late in the draft.
And that shows the guys coming in this year if you put your head down and work you can get an opportunity to.
Absolutely and believe me when I talk to the team this year in preseason that’s the story I’m going to tell.
Going back to the guys playing with the national team how do you feel they did against Chile?
I think they did well, first of all I think Chile was a very good opponent, very fit, quick and I thought they had a really good team strategy and scored a brilliant goal. I thought as the game went on they hung in there quite well.
For our players, I thought the structure was a little bit different if you remember in the first half than the second half when the changes were being made and the two strikers were Bunbury and Agudelo when the two of them went in I thought they changed the game so it was a little different to evaluate a Brek Shea in the game without those guys and in the game with those guys.
I thought Brek Shea brought a lot of energy, intensity, quickness, physical play and I thought Zach Loyd playing left back, a position we never really looked at him at…I think that just kind of shows you where we are in this country with left backs for young players, I thought he did well, he had a lot of energy, he tried to get forward, he was a strong defender and his game slowed down a bit once he got his yellow card. I think Eric Alexander didn’t get enough time to really make an evaluation but what a wonderful moment it must have been for him to get on the field.
Are you going to be giving those guys a rest or are they going to come in on Monday like everyone else?
It’s funny you say that because Brek Shea’s already here, Brek walked into my office earlier and we had about a 20 minute conversation about a lot of things being in Spain with Generation Adidas in a completely different environment there it’s a little more laid back, you’re playing games but they’re not counting towards the standings and you’re seeing guys 24 hours a day.
You’re out and I really enjoyed being with him over there so we had a good conversation and he felt that he did well[last week against Chile], the nervousness is still there he’s only 20 years old…he had a lot of energy and as far as time off he’s already here trying to get himself ready.
The interesting thing with the guys being called into the national camp is they’re not really game fit yet and so they’re doing everything they possibly can realizing what they need is a good pre-season.
Ruben Luna was called into the Mexican U20’s can you talk about what this means for FC Dallas and the legitimacy of the youth program and homegrown program in general?
I think Oscar Pareja has done a fantastic job with the Academy, they’re looked on as some of the best academy teams in MLS and in the country. I think a lot of is what Oscar brings, his knowledge his passion his commitment to the team, but also the ownership has brought to the organization the training facilities, environment and we’re really trying to make a professional environment as much as we can in Frisco, Texas which is hard.
What we’ve also established is an educational program now where the kids can also come and do two-a-days with the academy where they come in for the morning and train then they go to school…so the players are capable of training twice a day and right now we have 19 people showing up for the morning training and that’s U18 and U16 so I think the Ruben Luna’s of the world where they find success with FC Dallas…he’s a very good player.
With Ruben Luna gone with the U20 squad for potentially a large amount of time does that emphasize the need to sign another forward for you?
Yeah, we’ve been looking for another forward for about three months whether we find one that is exactly the one we want or whether we wait until the summer window it’s definitely something we’re still working on.
Right now we have Milton Rodriguez and Ruben as our top two strikers but we’ve also got Peri Marosevic and Wiedeman and Yeisley so we’ve got a lot of that second level of player but we need a player that can step up and compete for us. The player that helped us last year as a striker was Atiba Harris and obviously we lost him so yes a striker is definitely on our list but we’re still working on it let’s put it that way.
I think it shows the legitimacy of our academy when we’ve got a player like Ruben who’s going to be put in the Mexican U20’s. I think he’s going to do very well, I looked at last year’s calendar for the U20’s and they’re doing a lot of training. He could realistically be gone until August the 6 so that’s a bit scary but we don’t want to be in the way of a wonderful opportunity for Ruben to represent his country as well.
Do you have a Super Bowl prediction for us?
If I’m right it’s Pittsburgh against Green Bay. I do know the score….I have an unbelievable ability before the game starts. That score will be 0-0 before the game starts.
And the final question that everyone wants to know, will the leather jacket back in 2011?
[Laughs]The leather jacket, you know we didn’t win MLS Cup and I had plans[if we won] to put that leather jacket on Ebay for someone to buy who is as superstitious as I was and use that as a donation to charity so the leather jacket will be back.
Stay tuned for our roll out of FCD pre-season coverage. Liverpool may not be able to afford Luis Suarez, but Big D Soccer is announcing a blockbuster transfer addition to our staff tomorrow afternoon. Also, if you like this coverage, I'd greatly appreciate if you'd spread the word about the growing site by tweeting this interview, sharing it with co-workers who are all FC Dallas fans I'm sure and liking our Facebook page.