Hyndman preps for biggest game in Dallas history

FCD coach yet to decide on right back but rookie has inside track

Jackson Gonçalves

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

CARSON, Calif. – FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman has one major decision to make ahead of his team’s Western Conference Championship match against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes): Jackson Gonçalves or rookie Zach Loyd at right back?

Before Saturday’s final practice at the Home Depot Center, Hyndman was reluctant to reveal the direction he was leaning. However, given the priority placed by FC Dallas on defending LA’s set pieces and the fact that Jackson has barely trained this week, Loyd would seem to have the inside track.

“Right now I think both of them are very, very confident and they both bring different things,” Hyndman said. “Zach brings a tremendous level of defending. Very strong in the air. He has a vertical leap of 32 inches.”

FC Dallas are expected to be focused on absorbing the early Galaxy pressure in the opening half and use quick-fire counterattacks when the opportunities present themselves.

“We’re going to be professional about the way we handle the first portion of the game,” said FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. “We understand that LA is going to come out and press.”

Given the type of game that is expected, the Brazilian Jackson would seem to be a better option off the bench if FC Dallas are chasing the game late.

“Jackson brings a bit better in ball possession, distribution, speed and overlapping abilities,” Hyndman said. “So it really again depends how we put our whole lineup out on the field.”

Colombian forward Milton Rodríguez did not travel with the team and Jeff Cunningham is expected to take his spot up top. Cunningham’s speed will be critical in making the Dallas counterattack even more effective as they seek to earn the club’s first-ever MLS Cup final.

“It is the biggest game in FC Dallas history – the Western Conference Championship against a very, very good team that is the Supporters’ Shield winners,” Hyndman said. “As much as you don’t want to look forward, one of the things we want to do is become a champion.”

Think you know the game? Test your powers of prediction with MLSsoccer.com's new fantasy game, Pro Soccer Picks. Play NOW!