Today the 2012 MLS Super Draft and more importantly, who FC Dallas takes with the 11th overall pick will dominate much of the conversation surrounding our local club. But that isn’t the only thing on the mind of FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman these days. The start of preseason training is looming on Monday and the club is also looking for a new technical director to replace Barry Gorman. Here are the Soccer Sinsei’s thoughts on a wide array of subjects.
How do you feel about this year’s draft pool?
Hyndman: I think it’s a good pool of players with different varieties as far as positions. I think when the 11th pick comes around, I feel like there’s going to be a player that can help us. We’re looking more than likely at getting some support and more balance in our team.
What do you see as your side’s biggest need right now?
Hyndman: I think right now, it’ll probably be in the defense. It could be a center back. It could be a right back. It could be a left back. It also could be a flank midfielder. I think that’s where we’re probably focusing. Then there’s the other thought of do you select the best available player?
With the recent signing of Blas Perez, is it safe to say that you won’t be taking a forward at No. 11?
Hyndman: I think we’ve worked awfully hard in that area. We’ve got Blas Perez and we’re working very hard on another international striker or another striker. And I think we’ll have that covered and that may not be the area that we’ll need the balance in. If one of the best strikers did become available, I think we’ve got to look at it seriously.
Speaking of Perez, do you expect him and fellow newcomer Hernan Pertuz to be in town in time for the start of preseason early next week?
Hyndman: Yeah, we hope so. A big thing with international players is getting their P-1, getting their passport, visa and everything in place. If they’re not there, I think they will be there shortly.
Is there any update on the George John situation?
Hyndman: Right now, that’s still up in the air.
Are you ready for the start of preseason?
Hyndman: Yeah, there’s not much of a break, is there? We start on Monday. I think the final’s on Dec. 1. It’s going to be a long season. Yes, I know we’re ready. I know all the coaches in the league are ready. We’re hoping our players are ready.
How has the draft process changed without Gorman being involved?
Hyndman: Barry was a big part of helping us identify players throughout the college season. His reports and recommendations were very helpful up to the draft. But once we get to the draft, it’ll be our coaching staff, Doug Quinn but we also have a competition committee that meets regularly, about every week. There’s Clark Hunt, Dan Hunt and Jimmy Smith, who’s our chief financial officer. We’ll meet every week to discuss players, allocation money, the financial side of it, salary cap, draft, trades, acquiring players. Barry was a part of that until he moved to college recruiting. Now we’re in the process of trying to identify a very good technical director that can help us in that full process. That person will not be on board by the time the draft takes place, but we wanted to really take our team and try to find the right person.
With just one pick in this year’s draft, do you feel any added pressure to hit a home run with your only choice?
Hyndman: No, not really, there’s always the pressure of getting the right person. I think soccer wise, you spend a lot of time identifying players and during the combine, you’re trying to see if what you’ve identified meets the level of competition. And then you try to project how that player might be fitting into your team. When is he going to get on the field? Is it this year? Is it a reserve role? Is it a starting role? A lot of work goes into that but the biggest part is really doing the background check on the person’s character, work ethic and team chemistry. Those are the things that we really don’t want to miss on.
Is trading up into the top six a possibility?
Hyndman: It was a huge discussion three, four weeks ago. Probably within the last seven days, the discussion has gone to no, we’re probably not going to do it. And I think a big part of it is we still think we’ll get a good player on the 11th pick. I want to say good player, somebody that’s going to be able to contribute to the team and the team’s needs.
Have you finalized what players you’re going to bring in for preseason yet?
Hyndman: Yeah, we’ve got a few trialists coming in. We’ve got Scott Sealy coming in from San Jose. His option wasn’t picked up at striker and then we’ve got a boy coming out of Canada who has U.S. citizenship, his last name is Horton. And then we have the boy we put on our Discovery List and has been with us, Chris Ispienza. I can’t pronounce his last name. We’ve got a couple more that we will be able to look at to see if they are going to be able to contribute to our roster.
Do you feel pretty good about how your roster is shaping up heading into preseason?
Hyndman: Yeah but there’s always little thunderbolts here and there with players’ injuries or players’ mentality, but I think the key part for us is getting David Ferreira back and getting him into a leadership role and getting his confidence to where he can contribute to the success of the team this year.
This year marks your fourth draft. How do you think your approach has changed if at all since that first draft you had back in 2009?
Hyndman: I think our approach has always been to be fair to kind of do a mock draft of where we think we’re going to end up with players. Then, we look very closely at the opposition and kind of think what their needs might be. All of us here probably pick the first six that are going to go in the draft because they’re pretty exceptional. Those are the six that every team would want because they probably are gifted enough to help immediately. The next six, there’s probably going to be a lot of movement. There could be some surprises. Somebody could have done really well at the combine that we didn’t rate prior and all of a sudden, that person sticks out. I think the big thing for us is to just be prepared, which we are and then to go into it with some scenarios of who do we think will be available at our draft pick. Right now we’ve got for the 11th spot, we think four players potentially could be available. We list those four players if all of them are available, who’s our No. 1 pick, our No. 2, our No. 3 and our No. 4. Those top six, we’re not going to get unless we move up. When we get to the pick and one of those four are available, we’ll go ahead and make that decision to take that player. We’ve really done our homework and we’re prepared for it.
You mentioned Perez might not be the only forward you add. Discuss.
Hyndman: We’re trying to add another forward whether it’s an international or another player in the league. This is an area that we think we couldn’t deal with this past year. We did everything right but in front of the goal we didn’t score enough. The second thing is we had to move people around to try to get some speed into the attack whether it was Jackson, Chavez, whether it was Castillo. We were looking for a striker, a Santos. We kept trying to find that player that was the right forward. And then you have to understand we’re sitting in a situation where Blas Perez will probably be getting call-ups from the national team. So even though he’s on your roster, you’re paying him and he’s your forward, there’s going to be plenty of times he’s probably not with us. So, for security purposes, call-ups or whatever, we need more than one forward that we can really count on. And we’re hoping for a breakout year from Ruben this year.