On Friday, FC Dallas will head to Orlando, Florida for the final phase of preseason. FCD will play at least four games before returning to Frisco in just over a week. The term measuring stick games is usually reserved for regular season contests, that moniker can definitely be applied to several of the matches they will have during their stay in the Sunshine State.
“It’s our last opportunity to prepare for the season. So the goals for the Florida trip are to try to get the team on the same page, try to figure out where our strengths and areas that we’ve got to be concerned about, try to get guys playing together and playing against good competition,” Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said earlier this week. “We should feel pretty good about ourselves when we get back.”
After facing a number of college foes both before and after their trip to Cancun, Mexico, FCD stepped up the caliber of preseason competition by facing the United States Under-23 team on Wednesday and fell to the U-23s by a 2-1 score line.
Such a step up in terms of quality of competition is something the FCD players definitely welcome going forward. “I definitely think as a group, we’re ready,” starting right back Zach Loyd said. “We’ve been putting in a lot of work with two-a-days, going to Cancun, putting in some work and playing some teams from other countries. So I think the competition is something we definitely invite. We want to play the best competition we can in preseason.”
FCD captain Daniel Hernandez definitely agrees with Loyd that these games in Orlando are going to be crucial to ensuring that the entire club is ready for their 2012 season opener on Sunday, March 11 against New York. “That’s what preseason’s for-to push yourself and get prepared for the opening game. I think the tougher games that we can play the better for us,” Hernandez said. “Those college games are a good test for us but I think they’re more for us to just try to get our legs back and get some rhythm of play. These tough competition games are what is going to get us prepared.”
Earlier this week, Hyndman said he was about three players away from having the roster the way he wanted it, which means this trip could be crucial for several trialists like Scott Sealy, whom the FCD coach confirmed will be making the trip south.
The Dallas gaffer also didn’t rule out bringing in a few more players who would join them in Florida to have a look at them as possible roster additions.
But of course, the ultimate aim is a simple one for this trip-get his club as ready as possible for the season opener with the Red Bulls.
“I think now we’re at the point where we’ve got to start emphasizing the first team or the top reserve players, the players that we can count on to understand what we’re doing, the structure and then measure our fitness level against the opposition because they’ll be good games, MLS teams and then also to measure our standards against the opposition as well,” Hyndman said. “We’re maybe three, four weeks away before we open the season and like all teams, we’re not ready.”
FCD FLORIDA TRIP SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES CENTRAL)
Saturday, Feb. 25 BK Hacken (Sweden) 7:00
Sunday, Feb. 26 U.S. Under-20 3:00
Tuesday, Feb. 28 Orlando City SC 7:00
Thursday, March 1 Toronto FC* 5:00
Saturday, March 3 Championship* TBD
*-Walt Disney World Resort Pro Soccer Classic