Hyndman Makes Tough Decision With Leyva

FRISCO, TX - MARCH 17: FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman looks on as his team takes the field against the Portland Timbers during the MLS match at FC Dallas Stadium on March 17, 2012 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Call it a go for the draw or play it safe, either way you spin it FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman had a few tough choices to make on Saturday night against the Portland Timbers.

For starters he made the tough decision to go with his gut and play Home Grown player Bryan Leyva for the first time in his young career. Leyva was the first HGP to sign with the club three years ago and after waiting for his chance the kid finally received his first professional start and minutes with the club.

(Read on for more)

The gaffer made the wise call, even though it was a surprise to many that Leyva started. I like many of you thought Andrew Wiedeman would be getting his first chance to shine. Instead it was the younger, possibly craftier Leyva.

The first 20 minutes looked good out of the youngster. He and Zach Loyd had a couple nice exchanges on the wing and there was one nifty back heel that got the crowd going. Then in the 22nd minute Leyva took a long, beautiful cross from Carlos Rodriguez and put in his first attempt on goal in his professional career. The hard shot made Timbers keeper punch it aside only to see Blas Perez hammer home the rebound for his first MLS goal.

But everything wasn't all good after that. Leyva was getting burnt on the wing by a faster Portland side that had Rodney Wallace and former FCD midfielder Eric Alexander on it. The tough put immediate pressure on the Dallas right side and the last 10-12 minutes of the first half were starting to resemble one-way traffic from Portland.

So Hyndman had to make a tough call as his club was getting burnt on the wing and was starting to feel the pressure in the penalty box from Scottish DP Kris Boyd. The answer bring on George John.

Hyndman told me after the game that he felt he easily could have made the sub earlier in the first half, it was just timing that came down to John coming in right before halftime.

It was all tactical

The sub itself was all tactical. Bringing in a bigger body like John helped counter the physical play of Portland's attack. Hyndman repeatedly said after the game that this was not a game to have John sit on the bench.

Moving Jair Benitez over to the right wing to help cover and counter the speed of Portland's left side was much needed. Take away the goal from Portland, which came in a fluke kind of way, this move really paid off as Portland's wing play was nearly nonexistent in the second half.

Then again, so was Dallas' wing play.

Pertuz and Rodriguez

I, like many of you, am a huge fan of Rodriguez and Hernan Pertuz. Both have made just as big of an impact on FCD this season as Blas Perez has. While Perez will undoubtedly get the majority of the headlines this year for the goals and assists that he will bring in, it will be Rodriguez and Pertuz that will go on as perhaps two of the most underrated signings for this season by any club in MLS.

Pertuz is already a beast in defense. He clear more comfortable in the middle of the defense than he is at full back but I'll give him credit, he didn't look at all shaky last night in the second half at left back.

The main issue was he and Rodriguez lacked the chemistry that Benitez and Rodriguez have developed over the last game or so. The overlapping runs didn't happen as you can clearly tell Pertuz isn't the type of defender to get forward like Loyd or Benitez. That is fine when he is in the middle but when at full back it does take away an extra element to the Dallas attack.

Trading John now won't be easy

This could be easily another article for another day but we're slowly getting to the point that Hyndman will have to make another tough decision to start out a game with. Start John and sit Pertuz or continue to start Pertuz and bring on John later on in the game.

I think we're probably a game or two away from that fact but it is certainly getting close. You may say to just go ahead and trade John right now and get as much as you can for him to cover the club's midfield depth issue but that isn't something that can be done so quickly. Yes you can trade him quick to probably six or seven teams right now that need a strong center back but I can tell you this, you don't get anything good in return.

After last year's trades I have a feeling Hyndman is super sensitive about trading anyone away this year just for getting depth in other areas of the roster. He's already saying they regretted trading Alexander last year and I'd be willing to bet that the Eric Avila trade is one in hindsight they are constantly rethinking as well. It all seemed necessary at the time but I do believe it makes Hyndman that much more careful with trading anyone away this year.

Why no late sub?

This will be discussed plenty around these circles this week. Wiedeman was this close to getting in the game last night but once again Hyndman said he didn't feel that adding a young player to the game late would have done any good. Sure it would have brought on fresh legs but the gaffer pointed out that just like Leyva some of the younger guys are still finding their way with the speed of the game.

I'm willing to bet he thought long and hard about bringing Wiedeman in the second half. The kid clearly spent five or six minutes at the bench with his jersey on late in the game but never made it past that to get on the field.

My best guess is he would have come on for either Rodriguez, Benitez or even someone like Daniel Hernandez. No Wiedeman wouldn't have been brought into the middle of the park, especially the defensive part of the field but it would have been another shift around the field for someone. Benitez would have been brought back into the full back spot while possibly Pertuz be shifted up a little above Ugo Ihemelu and John. (just a total hunch on that really, I have no actual facts to back that thought up at this time however)

Final Thoughts

Again, this wasn't an easy game for Hyndman. Starting three guys that would normally be on the bench, a real lack of offense anyways as it is and playing a very physical and quick team is never easy to do. I don't think he played for the draw with the first half sub of John but he clearly was comfortable with keeping it a draw in the second half.

Yes the John sub was all about defense, but sometimes you have to gamble that way as a coach. Fortunately the gamble of starting Leyva didn't backfire at the gaffer. I think that is something we can all be happy with as it points yet again to the future of this club.

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