FRISCO, Texas — Being a rookie on a top team has meant sparse playing time for Andrew Wiedeman, but the FC Dallas forward has been performing as a world-class veteran in training this week.
That’s because FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman asked the University of California product to assume the role of Galaxy Designated Player David Beckham by delivering long diagonal balls to test the Dallas defense in practice.
Hyndman knows such service is a Beckham trademark, so it's something Dallas need to prepare for when they visit the Home Depot Center for the Western Conference Championship on Sunday night (9 p.m., ESPN2).
“We just played LA a couple of weeks ago and that was a problem we had to deal with, that diagonal ball,” Hyndman said. “Watching them play against Seattle, it seemed like every time they got the ball, it was off the diagonal ball. It was something I felt like we needed to work on.”
In filling in as the English star, 21-year-old Wiedeman has earned high marks for his work in Wednesday’s practice.
“I thought he hit some good balls,” center back Ugo Ihemelu said. “He did pretty well, but no one can hit a ball exactly like Beckham. That’s why he gets paid so much — that’s what he does. I think it was just so we could be aware of [Beckham's] style of play and prepare for it as best as possible.”
Always the humble rookie, Wiedeman downplayed how vital his role was in Tuesday’s session.
“I don’t think I did it any justice, but we were trying to work on that switch because a lot of LA’s offense comes from them hitting that ball into the corner," Wiedeman said. "They just had me knocking in some balls."
And even though the 2010 second-round draft pick has yet to see the field in an MLS game, there’s no doubt his coach and teammates like what he brings to the table.
“Wiedeman is a very good player,” midfielder Dax McCarty said. “He’s really started to come on the past couple of weeks. The job that Beckham does no one can emulate, but Wiedeman has a fantastic shot with both feet."