An absolutely beautiful morning for practice yesterday that got started at about 10:30, the latest a practice has started since I've been going out here. It was a long practice too as it was nearly 1 before all was said and done.
The team, coaching staff and pretty much anyone out at practice yesterday was in a great mood. Maybe it was the great weather, the Rangers winning game 4 or the grind of the regular season finally coming to an end. A full house of media out there too...
The practice consisted of a long warmup session before playing 11v11 short-field scrimmage. Generally on Wednesdays this is the time where you pretty much see what the lineup is for the weekend, but this time Hyndman gave nothing away as the teams mixed starters and reserves. The only goal I can remember came from Milton Rodriguez, though the play of the 15 minute scrimmage was a pinpoint Brek Shea cross to the head of Dax that was tipped off the bar by Dario Sala.
After the 15 minutes was up, the fields were lengthened and the game opened up a bit. Ruben Luna, though not scoring a goal, was the player to watch as he showcased his strength holding off George John while retaining possession and finding Avila at the top of the box for a great chance.
-Everyone but Kyle Davies and Edson Edward trained fully today. For the first time in months, every major contributor was on the field Wednesday morning. Kevin Hartman looked extremely solid and those watching for the first time would have had no clue he was returning from an injury. Would be shocked if he didn't start this weekend returning home to LA...
-Ruben Luna is taking a step forward. We saw it in the pre-season when Luna was arguably the team's most impressive player, and he's finally starting to get his confidence back to the stages when he was scoring in buckets for the Academy. Forwards live off this confidence and I think not having the Academy games to score goals may have set him back a bit. He showcased all his talents in this practice, showing incredible strength to hold off George John at one point, using his quick feet to juke through three defenders at another and nearly setting up a few goals as well. I can't wait to see how this kid looks after pre-season 2011....a lot more on the juniors in the quotes.
Jump for more observations and quotes from Schellas, Kevin Hartman, Eric Alexander and Zach Loyd
-Jason Yeisley and Andrew Wiedeman are only training at center back and right back now. The general consensus is Yeisley has a better shot at making the 2011 roster than Wiedeman, but Andrew is the Generation Adidas player. Perhaps loan spells are in the future for both of these players, but the fact that they got moved from their natural positions can't bode well.
-Right now according to FC Dallas staff, it's "85%" that the home playoff game is next Thursday. This is a change from last week when the game was likely going to be on Halloween, but things change...If it's not on Thursday, it will be on Saturday. I would imagine the Thursday slot will go to Los Angeles vs whoever.
The attitude is different now with a few days to face LA?
I don’t know that the attitude is different I just think that we’re refocusing with a game coming up. Of course, we may have a very short week if we play on Thursday so we have to think tactically how we’re going to play this game because the more important game for us is Thursday
Do you know when you’re playing the playoff game yet?
No not yet, but I think there’s a strong possibility that game could be Thursday or maybe Saturday. We’d like for it to be Saturday because it gives us more time to recover. We don’t get back here until Monday…then you turn around Thursday and it definitely will be an advantage for someone unless we play LA again.
Talk about LA
They’re playing very well, they’ve got Beckham back ,Donovan back, Buddle back. We didn’t see any of those guys the last time we played them and if you remember they beat us here May 20th. So what we have to do, a lot of it has to be their tactical thoughts, if they win the Supporter’s Shield with Colorado beating Salt Lake they may put in a reserve team or some reserve players…so it’s a lot of tactics going on and we’re in a position at least we will know what we need to do before that game starts.
Atiba, is he still a question mark?
It will be a question mark(Whether he starts this weekend). He went into Real Salt Lake and we were hoping to get a little more out of it, but it is what it is. The thing about Chavez is he’s doing pretty well. What a lot of people don’t realize is Chavez won the ball 24 times, it’s not that he got it 24 times he won it 24 times tracking people down, intercepting taking balls off people. That’s a huge statistic
Talk about Hartman returning this weekend and the boost that gives.
It’s fantastic, I think it’s a team morale booster. Kevin has done such a fantastic job for us this year. Could things have been different throughout the year if he hadn’t gotten that silly injury? I think he’s always proven to us that he can be a difference maker. Where is he now as far as percentage wise will determine whether he makes the trip or now.
David’s durability has been amazing this year…is there any concern how long he will hold up going into the playoffs?
It’s a long season and I think he’s still the most fouled player in the league. What happened at Real Salt Lake that you might not have picked up on was he took a really hard hit early and he came down and hurt himself. If you’ll remember there was some uncharacteristic ball give away. He even came to me and said I’m not playing well, I’m hurting. (He said) he wants to play and loosen it up and maybe get better.
Unfortunately, the tactics of the opposition is if you stop David Ferreira you have a better chance of stopping FC Dallas so we just need to make sure the calls come our way when those fouls occur, but he’s been very very good for us this year and very solid health-wise.
How did you see Ihemelu, John and Hernandez on Saturday?
I thought they did fine, I think watching the game, coaching the game you get a different perspective than watching the game on video. When you watch the game on video you already know the outcome so now you’re looking at it from an analytical point of view.
During the game, you don’t know the outcome and there’s tremendous pressure from the fans and what’s going on around you so sometimes you get a little blinded or confused in your observations. But I thought Daniel ended up straining his hamstring when he took that corner kick shot and that hurt him a little bit.
David got hurt so that hurt our midfield a little bit. Dax wasn’t connecting as well as he’s capable of so I think we lost the center midfield but I don’t think our center backs hurt.
How have the Academy players that you’ve signed been progressing and looking towards the end of the first season?
I think the Juniors have done a very good job training with us every day. I think the thing we haven’t gotten enough out of the Juniors is playing time. I think the most consistent one is probably Ruben, Moises and Victor couldn’t play this year and Bryan Leyva has been called into the Mexican National Team and has kind of been in and out.
I think what we need to do is get them games and hopefully we’ll be able to put things together with the roster next year and have a reserve league if that’s in the calling or more exhibition games…there’s got to be more opportunity for them to play because right now they’re just 18 years old, they want to play, they’re good players but they’re not ready.
Ruben Luna was extremely impressive in the pre-season but then kind of fell off because of the time it took to sign him. How important is pre-season next year for these guys?
It’s absolutely huge. It sets us into a train of thought, we’ve seen a lot out of this kid is he someone we can count on, is he prepared? If a player comes into pre-season not in physical conditioning that’s a huge negative. So if a young player comes in and he’s in great shape, able to bounce around, and the strength that they have is they’re very resilient and recover from injuries when they’re younger. They have to take advantage of being at that level where they’re fit and they’re ready to go. If they’re not, it’s tough
Are you going to try to get them more games with the academy team?
Yes, in the offseason when we’re done if there’s Academy games going on we want them active for sure.
How do you feel?
It feels like it’s coming along, it’s one of those things you’ve got to get back there behind your defense and play a little bit. See what things you need to get stronger and what you’re capable of. So I think that’s really been the issue this week to identify some of the things I need to concentrate on and get better at.
Get used to playing again with my teammates and make sure they understand what my expectations are and to give them the confidence that I’m back there and I’m going to do things that are going to be beneficial to them
Is there a point when you say you’re 100% or does that evolve as you play more?
I think it’s one of those things where you gain confidence by doing stuff. So that was one of my big issues coming back I wanted to make sure that I was at least doing some goalkeeping so that I was able to start to gain that confidence again.
No matter how many leg extensions that you do, there’s a big difference between stuff like that and hopping into the goal and get your footwork right, be on your toes, have good shape, make sure you’re technically sound, giving up rebounds where they need to be given up and you’re holding stuff that needs to be held.
Is one game enough to get you playoff ready?
Games are sometimes not necessarily as difficult as training. I think it’s really just getting back with the guys on a day to day basis and us being comfortable. There’s tons of varieties of exercises we can do that are game specific and I just have to make sure I’m participating well those.
The one thing I do have going for me is I’m not going to be surprised what fans are yelling at me and what to expect in the environment I’m going to be placed in.
Any added bonus going up against LA?
They’re obviously a team that’s had a ton of success this year. It’s an opportunity for me to go see family and I think Landon is really the only piece that still remains from the team that’s there when I was there and a few people in the organization I know fairly well.
It’s a great opportunity to be home, I would push to make the trip just based on that but like I said I’m respectful of what FC Dallas and the players represent and I’m not going to do something that’s going to affect that. I feel comfortable and if they trainers give me the go ahead then I’ll be ready to roll.
How do you feel like your rookie season’s gone?
I feel like it’s gone pretty well considering the team has performed exceptional this year. I’m happy with the playing time coach Schellas has given me. Hopefully I keep to continue to develop as a player and get that starting spot on a consistent basis.
Has the league been what you expected?
It’s very physical, I wasn’t expecting it to be as physical as it is but as far speed of play and quality of players it’s definitely what I was expecting.
With Heath out this weekend, you could be in line for a start, will you use this as an opportunity to try to get some time in the playoffs?
I’m not really looking that far ahead, right now I’m just trying to work hard this week and hopefully on Sunday coach gives me a call-up
Talk about your season a bit
I’m feeling pretty good about it, unfortunately the team’s had some injuries but it’s been good for me I guess because it’s given me a chance to play. I think I’ve ok for myself and I’m obviously happy for the success of the team right now…so I’m excited to get to the playoffs it’ll be my first playoff experience.
How has the league been with your expectations
I’ve been watching MLS my whole life so to actually be here and play against players who have a reputation as being very good players it’s exciting but at the same time you still have to play your own game and be confident in yourself.
That was the biggest thing for me was gaining the confidence to know I can go out there and play with these guys. Obviously the physicalness of the game too, it’s what I expected but adjusting to it is still tough.
Who on the team have been your biggest helps?
We’re so close as a group I can’t pick out one, but the older guys in general, Daniel(Hernandez), Dario, Kevin, Ugo have all at one point or another came and helped me out. Even Dax has been here for almost five years, we’ve been in similar positions he was injured for awhile but he was always giving me pointers and helping me out but I think the whole team in general has been great at helping the rookies out.
Download the raw quote sheet for a couple bonus questions with Schellas about David Ferreira and how this weekend's results will determine his lineup on Sunday...
Stay tuned folks as the huge Big D Soccer website relaunch is happening possibly as soon as this weekend....Go Rangers