When Schellas Hyndman decided to leave SMU and become FC Dallas coach in 2008, he knew he needed someone on his staff familiar with MLS. So Hyndman, whose team will vie for the MLS crown on Sunday, enlisted longtime friend John Ellinger, who had just spent nearly three seasons as Real Salt Lake's coach as his top assistant.
"He's been tremendous," Hyndman told Steve Hunt. "He got me acclimatized to what's going on in the league. I was here with a college background and great soccer knowledge but didn't know if it could translate into this level."
U.S. U-17 national team for seven years, Elliinger helped establish and run the acclaimed residency program in Bradenton, Fla., developing some of the nation's brightest young talents, including Landon Donovan, Oguchi Onyewu and Michael Bradley as well as FC Dallas players Heath Pearce, Dax McCarty and Eric Avila.
McCarty compared his days with Ellinger as a youth player with the current relationship: "He was pretty intimidating. Whenever he spoke, it was silence. You could hear crickets." But now, "You're grown up a little bit and now you can just talk about whatever you want with him. He's a great guy, a fantastic coach and a guy I definitely feel comfortable hanging out with."