It is not just college players who have influenced Major League Soccer this season - Schellas Hyndman has transformed FC Dallas from pretenders to contenders in only two seasons since leaving Southern Methodist University to accept the head post for the Dallas franchise.
Andy Friedlander of the Dallas Morning News writes of how Hyndman has transformed FC Dallas into a contender in the Western Conference.
FRISCO – He hadn't seen this coming.
Midway through his first full season as FC Dallas' coach, Schellas Hyndman looked into the stands at Pizza Hut Park and saw outrage. Fans wearing paper bags over their heads held signs calling for Hyndman to be fired – and those were the kind ones – as part of an organized protest before last season's Aug. 1 match against Kansas City.
For man who had defined success in 31 seasons as a college coach, 24 of them at SMU, it was a gut-wrenching, embarrassing moment. Not for the first time, Hyndman wondered why in the world he had left SMU, where he was not merely respected but revered.
"It was uncomfortable and quite strange for me to be in the middle of that," he said. "We had a meet-the-players event around that time. And some of those people came straight to my face and said, 'I want to say this in front of you face-to-face, not behind your back. We loved you as the SMU coach. But you should have stayed at SMU.' And with all this anger inside of me, I was able to ... just say, 'Sorry you feel that way.' I didn't really defend myself because I had nothing to defend myself with."
A little more than a year later, Hyndman has an arsenal at his disposal in that regard.
Heading into tonight's game against New York, his club owns Major League Soccer's longest current unbeaten streak, and one of the longest in league history, at 14 games. FCD has all but locked up a spot in the playoffs and is No. 1 in MLS power rankings produced by Goal.com and ESPN.com. And Hyndman is receiving major buzz for MLS coach of the year.
He has remade the team to match the vision he brought from SMU. During last season's hot finish – FCD went 5-2-1 down the stretch to barely miss the playoffs – Hyndman brought in players with speed, athleticism and leadership, and those who weren't on board with his relentless, attacking system or his often blunt management style were quickly sent on their way.