FC Dallas held their final practice at FC Dallas Stadium before facing the Colorado Rapids on Saturday to open the 2013 Major League Soccer season. The team definitely looks ready to let loose some pent up energy in a meaningful match as they played a very spirited short-field scrimmage to close out the session. They practiced corners and set pieces as well and one item of note came from there: don’t be surprised to see recent acquisition Michel take left-footed corners and/or free kicks. After practice, Coach Schellas Hyndman and forwards Eric Hassli and Kenny Cooper spoke with the media.
Coach Schellas Hyndman
- Playing against Colorado and Oscar Pareja, is it special?
Yeah, I think so. As you know, Oscar coached with us on the academy level and he was one of my assistants. It’s funny because when Colorado called me about him potentially being a candidate, I thought he would be great. I’m glad to see him continue to be a part of the league because he has a lot to offer.
- Do you feel good being able to get out of the preseason relatively unscathed with injuries?
We’re getting healthier everyday. We’ve got a couple of guys still banged up, but I think the attitude is really good, people are showing up and they’re getting better, getting healthier and they want to be a part of this. Of course for the first game of the year, everybody is excited.
- Any concerns tomorrow weather-wise?
It’s going to be a little chilly. You know, we had a wonderful trip to Cancun when it was 85 degrees and we spent ten days in Portland when it was 40 degrees. So I think that Portland trip might’ve even helped us for tomorrow night.
- How exciting is opening day?
Because the preseason and offseason is really long, everybody wants to play in front of people. It’s very exciting.
- What are you seeing out of this team right now?
A lot of quality, character, friendship, we have a couple of leaders. Look, we enjoy <playing together>, everybody is smiling and that I think is most important, the chemistry is just awesome.
- In terms of starting fitness do you see yourself as a couple weeks away?
Yeah, I need work, of course. I only have 2-3 weeks practice with the team. I’m going to work real hard with <the trainers>.
- What’s it mean to be back out here?
It’s very special, I think we’re all anxious to get going. It’s obviously a long preseason and guys have put in a lot of hard work with two-a-days, travelling, and it’s great to finally kick it off and do it at home in front of our own fans.
- How did it go playing w/ Fabian Castillo up top in Portland?
He’s a great player. His quality is obvious and he’s incredibly fast; probably one of the fastest guys I’ve seen in this league. I’ve been really impressed with him. He’s not just fast, he’s also really good on and comfortable on the ball and I think he’ll be really dangerous, so I’m looking forward to him having a good season.
- Is that speed something that complements your game well?
He’s incredibly dangerous and he’s always going to be a threat with his speed and fitness and again, he’s also very good on the ball. He’s skillful, so yeah he has all the tools and I think he’ll have a great season. I’m a big fan of his.
- Is there any specialness to you playing a team coached by Oscar Pareja?
Definitely. I think we all know what a great guy Oscar is and the great career that he’s had. He’s a great guy and I’ll be happy to see him and I’m sure the fans will give him a great welcome that he deserves, but at the end of the day, we’ll hopefully get a win over them.
- What did you miss most about Dallas while you were away?
There’s a ton I’ve missed. Growing up here, my school’s just down the road, my family is all still here…it’s just special and unique to have an opportunity to play in your hometown in front of family and friends. Not a lot of guys get the opportunity to do that and I was fortunate enough to be able to do it once and I’m excited that I get a second crack at it.
- New York is obviously a major media market. Portland is known for having a rabid fan base. What do you think are the advantages to playing in Dallas?
Well I know how important soccer is in the community here, especially the youth game. It seems like every kid here plays the game and I know that there’s real passion for the game in the area. My father played for the Tornado back in the day and I can’t tell you how many people tell that they used to go to those games. I think there’s fans of all ages and hopefully we’ll see them all come out and support us strong.
- How is the chemistry working between you and David Ferreira and then you and the other forwards?
I feel really positive about the chemistry with all the team. I give Schellas and Fernando <Clavijo – FC Dallas Technical Director> a lot of credit for the group they’ve put together because not only is it the quality and obvious talent that’s out there, but they’re good people and they’ve helped me transition really quickly on and off the field. I enjoy their company off the field and hopefully that will translate to a good performance on it.
- You scored 18 goals last year for New York and 18 the last full season you were in Dallas. Do you think you can challenge Chris Wondolowski for the league lead in goals this year?
I don’t know, I never set a goal mark. You know, at the end of the day I want to be dangerous and I want to help the team create goals whether that’s me scoring them or setting them up for someone else, that’s just as good. I’ll give my best and hopefully I’ll score a lot of goals or be involved in for a lot of goals for this team.