Dallas Soccer DFW

Shea, Ferreira lead FC Dallas turnaround

Published 8/25/2010 8:32:52 PM by Jeff Carlisle from ESPN

From ESPN:

Ten games into the season, FC Dallas looked like they were heading for one of those teeth-gnashing campaigns. FCD had a paltry 11 points, a total made even more unbearable by the fact the team was losing games despite dominating play.

But rather than implode, Dallas has turned its season around and finds itself just seven points back of Western Conference-leading Los Angeles, with a game in hand. Schellas Hyndman's side is unbeaten in its last 11 games and has gone nine games unbeaten on the road, tying a league record.

So how has Dallas come back from the dead? Like most winning recipes, there have been several key ingredients. In this case, a bit of Brek Shea, a double helping of David Ferreira and some psychological jiu-jitsu on the part of Hyndman have helped drive the side up the Western Conference table.

Hyndman's gambit consisted of instructing his side to break up the season into three 10-game segments. Simple as it may seem, the approach had the effect of keeping the team's focus on what could be, as opposed to what might have been.

"Our mentality was, 'Let's gain some ground here,'" said Hyndman. "Our goal was to shoot for 20 points [in 10 games], which was a pretty lofty goal because there were quite a few games on the road. And as it turned out, we hit 22 points. It was more just a psychology of refocusing, and then we were performing."

Indeed. The defense, long the team's weakness, tightened up considerably, allowing just seven goals during that second 10-game stretch. In attack, Ferreira was at the heart of everything that was good about FCD, and with six goals and eight assists he has entered the conversation for league MVP.

"I think the team understands his value now and is looking to play through him a little bit more," said Hyndman.

The rise of Shea has been telling as well, especially since few of the team's goals have been scored by whoever has been playing the lone striker role in Hyndman's 4-1-4-1 alignment. There have never been doubts about the talent of the former U.S. U-20 international. But Shea has matured greatly this season, and his five goals and four assists have prevented teams from focusing solely on Ferreira.

"On the field, [Shea] is understanding his role, understanding what to do in different parts of the field, not doing things in the middle third that he would do in the attacking third," said Hyndman. "I think part of that is the normal maturing that comes with responsibility. You have to take care of your lifestyle, you have to be fit, you have to watch what you eat. I think in all of those areas, there's definite growth in him."

Dallas' streak has come even as several key components have been sidelined by injury. A quad strain has kept Dax McCarty on the shelf for five games, while central defender Ugo Ihemelu has missed the last two matches because of a concussion. But stand-ins Eric Alexander and Zach Loyd have provided steady play in their stead, allowing FCD to become a deeper team in the process.

That increased depth will come in handy Saturday against Columbus, when Dallas will attempt to break the road unbeaten streak record it holds with the Crew. And don't expect FCD to simply try to hold out for a draw either. Dallas' streak has been fashioned by playing the same way on the road as at home.

But after missing out on the playoffs the last two seasons, Hyndman is keeping the big picture well within his sights.

"You always want to break a record," he said. "But at the same time, we just want to play well. That's as far as we want to push ourselves."

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