41814_isi_hyndmanemerson_bpi_jg_ffc_jg1_3075.2703060 Javier Garcia/isiphotos.com
Sciaretta's Scouting Report

Emerson Hyndman Has Homecoming at Dallas Cup

Texas native and Fulham academy player Emerson Hyndman played in his fifth Dallas Cup this week, and ASN's Brian Sciaretta caught up with the 18-year-old American prospect.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
April 18, 2014
2:11 PM
WHILE MUCH OF THE ATTENTION at the Dallas Cup this week has centered on the United States U-20 team’s run to the semifinals, another promising American teenager experienced both a homecoming and a strong tournament—for Fulham's youth academy.

Emerson Hyndman, 18, has been an important part of Fulham’s youth teams in recent years and is part of the club’s growing focus on developing a solid core of young players. He first joined Fulham’s academy in 2011, a move he was allowed to make thanks to his Portuguese citizenship/family history (which includes his grandfather and former FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman).

Since that time, he has risen through the ranks of the youth program and made a name for himself. On the club’s official Website Hyndman is described as “one of the most technically gifted players in the Academy,” and last April he signed his first professional contract. After that the club signed him to an extension through 2016.

When Hyndman arrived in London he was an attacking midfielder but Fulham’s academy staff wisely converted him to a more withdrawn role in the midfield. The “box-to-box” role has allowed him to better dictate the pace of the game and make use of his defensive capabilities.

“The club has done very well developing me at the No. 8,” Hyndman told American Soccer Now. “I’ve taken on the defensive responsibilities a lot more, while still getting forward. I enjoy it a lot and I think it’s a position that will help me and take me far.”

Fulham’s faith in the Dallas native is already proving to be a wise investment. Earlier this month Fulham's youth academy advanced to the finals of the FA Youth Cup, where it will face Chelsea. The first leg is scheduled for April 28 at Fulham’s Craven Cottage and the second leg will be held at Stamford Bridge on May 5.

The success of Fulham’s youth team is anything but a surprise. The team has been consistent all season long and has posted impressive wins along the way. Not coincidentally, many players on the current youth team are seen as having first-team potential.

“It’s been a good run,” Hyndman said. “I think the year has gone well. You see people starting to go to the first team now. It’s all very well linked. I think as a team we’ve carried on our run of form from last year. We’ve done well in the league so far."

"I think our FA Cup run speaks for itself," he continued. "We had to go to Manchester City away, Tottenham away, QPR away—really tough games. I think it’s deserved we are in the final. Hopefully we can win it.”

Fulham has, of course, a long tradition of employing American players. The tradition began with Marcus Hahnemann (1999) and Eddie Lewis (2000) and continued to include Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, and Kasey Keller. Dempsey recently returned on a two-month loan but after he left Hyndman was the last American at Fulham.

“I think when Dempsey was there, it was quite cool to have someone that close to look up to,” Hyndman explained. “In a way I think I am carrying on an American tradition at Fulham. But I kind of just concentrate on my football and don’t really think about it.”

It is a very intense time around Fulham these days, as the first team is battling to avoid relegation. With wins in its last two matches, the club, currently in the drop zone, is gaining ground on 17th place Norwich, which has a very difficult schedule down the stretch. Hyndman says that the enthusiasm over the first team’s push is fueling the youth teams as well.

“I think when we see the first team plays, there is a ton of passion,” Hyndman discussed. “You feel like they believe they can get out of it. When we as youth players see our team do that on the first team, it makes us want to go out and replicate that or do better—just to match them. The way this club is working right now, the last couple of games, I think there is a lot belief throughout the whole club, and not just a few players.”

While there is still plenty to play for at Craven Cottage, Hyndman and Fulham fell short at the 2014 Dallas Cup, finishing second in their group behind Brazil's Cortiba FC. It was the fifth time Hyndman has participated in the tournament, dating back to his days with the Dallas Texans and FC Dallas’ youth teams. There is a very real possibility that he will return to the Dallas Cup again, perhaps wearing Stars and Stripes.

Hyndman has represented the U.S. at youth levels but has yet to appear with the U.S. U-20 team. He is aware of the squad's success at this year's Dallas Cup and hopes that he has a chance to join the team soon.

“I’ve seen him a couple times,” Hyndman said of U.S. U-20 coach Tab Ramos. “He’s asked me a couple of times to come into camp but it just hasn’t been the right time. But I’d always be happy to join his group of players. I know quite a lot of them from when I was younger. So I don’t think it’d be a hard adjustment."

"If I ever get the opportunity, I’d love to.”

Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.

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