After a stormy stretch, FC Dallas still remains one of league’s best

Posted Thursday, Jul. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The MLS season couldn’t have begun any better for FC Dallas.

However, it’s been an uphill battle lately.

Dallas is riding a six-game winless streak heading into the match at 8 p.m. Saturday against MLS leader Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco.

Coach Schellas Hyndman said his team has weathered the storm and has remained just shy of the top.

Dallas (8-4-7) lost only one match in its first 11 and tied three before a May 18 loss at Seattle. FCD (31 points) trails Western Conference leader Salt Lake by three points and is tied for second in the league with the Montreal Impact.

FC Dallas has played seven games in just under 40 days, and seven of its past 13 games have been on the road.

“I think we were tired,” Hyndman said. “We were just so physically tired and so beaten up. That has an effect on what’s going on.”

Now that that scheduling storm has passed, FC Dallas will get close to a week’s break between games through the second half of the season.

Those seven days will come in handy, not only for rest and recovery, but also for tweaking the fundamentals that have gone astray during the recent skid.

“When you have a lot of those games, you don’t practice anything meaningful,” Hyndman said. “What you do is recovery training, but no one is working. You’re not doing team work.”

Wednesday marked Dallas’ first full practice in two weeks. Hyndman said the practice was one of the team’s most productive this season.

Dallas’ consistent force throughout the season has been the new man in the net, goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, whose 69 saves rank second in the league. His job as Dallas’ backstop recently earned him a nod for the MLS All-Star Game against AS Roma on July 31 in Kansas City, Kan.

“He’s been an exceptional goalkeeper for us,” Hyndman said. “He came in having to fill some awfully big boots with an outstanding goalkeeper in Kevin Hartman. He’s come in and done extremely well. We’re so pleased to see him selected to the All-Star Game.”

A victory Saturday would move Dallas into a first-place tie with Real Salt Lake.

Dallas striker Kenny Cooper said that could spark a turnaround heading into the second half of the season.

“There are so many games when the stadium seems packed and full of an amazing energy,” Cooper said. “I’m looking forward to more of those kind of atmospheres and playing in front of our home fans and sending them home happy.”

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