Zach Loyd is a player that honestly hasn’t been talked about much so far in 2012, but that’s never a bad thing for a defensive guy. The third-year Oklahoma native is one of only two FC Dallas players who has logged every minute so far this year, captain Ugo Ihemelu is the other.
Loyd has one goal and one assist through nine games, solid numbers for a player who Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman had said at the start of the season needed to get forward more. Now the FCD gaffer says the biggest thing for the UNC product is finding that happy medium between when to get forward and when to stay back.
“Absolutely, I think the word you use is balance. It’s one thing to tell a player to get forward and when they’re getting forward and there’s no space, now they’re just occupying space and now they’re not defending,” Hyndman said. “You have to understand a fullback’s No. 1 priority is defending. That’s why they’re fullbacks. I think for us, Zach is figuring out the balance and I think he’s doing a really good job with that.”
The third-year defender has lined up and both right back and left back so far this season and even as the cast surrounding him has been a largely rotating one, things he’s gotten off to a solid start.
“Personally, I think things have gone well. I’ve been able to stay healthy the first nine games. This year was my first year to begin the season with a starting spot and I’ve been able to maintain it,” Loyd said.
However, being the consummate team player, he never wants to delve into much detail about his own play. Instead, he sees thing as he should, how the team as a whole has been faring on the field.
“I think the team has done well considering the injuries we’ve had. We’ve had a different lineup every game,” he said. “We just continue to work here at training and continue to get more familiar with each other and hopefully start picking up some more points here pretty soon and start making a run at things.”
Loyd made news earlier this season when Hyndman announced that the third-year defender had registered the highest score on the club on the beep test, something which led the FCD gaffer to say that the Tulsa native might be the fittest player he’s ever coached.
“Yeah, I think he probably would be. I think he would be one of the more fit players I ever coached,” Hyndman admitted. “I think players like Mark Francis, who played for old SMU teams and was extremely fit. He could do a 10:15 two-mile run. I don’t know if Zach can do a 10:15 two-mile run, but I think Zach can do that beep test maybe a little bit better with the interval, the speed going back and forth. But he definitely is one of the most fit players playing soccer, not just in the league but playing soccer.”
However, it’s not like it’s a big deal for the young defender as he views being in tip top shape as part of the job description that comes with being a professional soccer player.
“Yeah, it’s been part of my game since I was young. I’ve always been taught to work hard and play hard. I think that shows our training staff is doing a great job of working with us, not only on the field but I think part of that is taking care of yourself off the field by recovering right and eating right,” Loyd said. “So I think the most important thing is we have a great training staff here and a great coaching staff. They’ve really been able to work with me and help me out.”
He admits that with the rash of injuries that have beset the FCD roster already in 2012 have definitely affected the back line. But now that the starting back four of Jair Benitez on the left, Ihemelu and George John in the middle along with him on the right, he likes that sense of continuity and comfort that having that unit intact can bring.
“It’s great. We’re real familiar with each other,” Loyd said. “We’re really comfortable with each other. I think the biggest thing is we’re really confident in each other. We rely on each other that if one guy makes a mistake, the other guy’s there to clean it up. Being confident and having that familiarity with each other in a back line is huge, especially communication wise, we can read each other. I think as the season goes on, you’re going to see a stronger and stronger back line.”
And like the rest of his teammates, he’s looking forward to Sunday, when FCD will return to the field to face Colorado for the first time since ex-Dallas player and assistant coach Oscar Pareja became their head coach.
“I think it will be great. It will be good to see him again. Everybody’s excited that he got the head coaching job at Colorado,” Loyd said. “I know he will be pumped up and excited to play us. There won’t be any bad feelings or anything. It’s going to be good to see each other and look forward to playing our first game against him."