April 10, 2009 MLS Toronto FC vs FC Dallas pregame story (from MLSnet.com)

FCD hoping fortunes will soon change
Hyndman and company looking for results to match effort
04/10/2009 03:24 PMBy Steve Hunt / MLSnet.com Staff

FRISCO, Texas -- Despite a 2-1 defeat by the New England Revolution a week ago, it was the best performance of the 2009 MLS season for FC Dallas. While FCD sits at 0-3 for the first time in club history, the players remain optimistic that their early run of disappointing results is due to bad luck and feel their fortunes are on the upswing heading into Saturday's match at Toronto FC.

"We've given up two penalty kicks in three games," FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman said. "What other team in the league has given up two penalty kicks in three games? Then you look at where we've been at halftime. The three games we've played, we've been tied 1-1 with Chicago, 0-0 with Chivas or winning against New England at halftime, but we come out the second half and haven't scored. The opposition has scored seven against us in the second half.

"Why are we giving up so many goals in the second half? Is it because of fitness? Are we just not as fit as the opposition that we get tired and start to show that in some silly plays, not being able to come back or whatever? Two, is it because of pressure? Is it the pressure and fear of losing? That's going to make you slower and make silly mistakes. Three, is it just the opposition that keeps coming at us and we're fearful? Four, we've been unlucky. These have been some pretty soft goals that we've given up, soft goals are no different than the soft goals given up last year. They're soft goals."

The FCD players agree the team is close to breaking out.

"I don't know if we can get any closer than last game," FCD midfielder Dave van den Bergh said. "We have had two PKs called against us that shouldn't have been PKs. It's a game of inches and an inch here or there and we have seven points. I don't think we deserved to win the first game. That was probably an even game, but against Chivas, we were not playing extremely well but we still should have put them away in the first half."

Hyndman shook up his starting 11 last week, and was pleased with the performance of that group. Earlier in the week, the FCD boss indicated his first 11 would most likely remain intact. One change that could come is at left back, where Blake Wagner has been very inconsistent. But with Daniel Torres not practicing for much of the week, it's likely Wagner will be on the field against the Reds.

"A few inches left or right and we are talking about a different situation right now," FCD captain Pablo Ricchetti said. "We can play good soccer. We played really well last weekend and if we play like we did against New England, we will not lose many games. If we play that style and at that level, I think we won't lose too much."

The biggest of Hyndman's changes involved sending forward Jeff Cunningham to the bench and moving attacking midfielder David Ferreira up top alongside Kenny Cooper, who has both of the team's goals this year.

Dax McCarty moved from the right side of midfield to the attacking role while Andre Rocha started on the right flank. In the back, Drew Moor moved from the right to the middle and George John made his MLS debut alongside Moor. Michael Dello-Russo got his third career league start at right back to replace Moor.

TFC head coach John Carver, whose club is fresh off a 2-0 loss to Seattle Sounders FC last weekend in its home opener, has promised changes to his first group but declined to elaborate on what those specific alterations might be.

Still, Hyndman knows that no matter which lineup Carver puts on the field, FCD will still have to keep an eye on the likes of Dwayne De Rosario and Amado Guevara.

"They're a very talented team," Hyndman said. "Not only do they have (Dwayne) De Rosario, but they also have (Pablo) Vitti in from Argentina, so I think they're like us -- they have a lot of talent."

His players concur.

"With DeRo and Guevara, it's a pretty dangerous combination," Moor said. "I know (Danny) Dichio has been playing up front. If Chad Barrett is in there, they're a little bit of a handful. We have to keep an eye on them.

"We really need to stay organized defensively. That's one thing we've really struggled with at the beginning of the year, keeping things organized in the back. We need to limit their chances and get people in front of DeRo and Guevara when they do get the ball to not allow them a lot of space because they'll find dangerous passes. We need to keep things tight and hopefully create some chances going the other way."

Van den Bergh added that there is another TFC starter who impresses him every time he faces the Canadian side. "(They're) dangerous, especially coming from the midfield with De Ro and Amado Guevara," he said. "I think (Carl) Robinson is one of the most underrated players in this league. I really like him as a player. I think they have a lot of weapons, but having said that, so do we."

Ricchetti sees a few weaknesses that he and his teammates can exploit to hopefully come away with their first win of '09.

"They have Amado Guevara and De Ro, two of their best players," Ricchetti said. "They have a good team and they're dangerous. They play with four attacking players all the time but have their problems on defense right now. I think we can expose those problems." Much of the expectation to do that will land at Cooper's feet, but he's had success against TFC. In two career games against the Reds, both last year, the lanky Dallas native has a total of four goals. He netted two in a 2-0 win at BMO Field last August and equaled that effort in a 2-2 draw at Pizza Hut Park last October.

Saturday's game is the first of a home-and-home series between the teams. They will play their return match next weekend in Frisco and then will not face one another for the rest of the season.

Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com

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