New FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman says he was in a "comfort zone" after 24 years at national power SMU and could have finished his coaching career there.

Instead, Hyndman will try to invigorate a struggling FC Dallas team, which introduced him as its new coach Tuesday.

Hyndman called the job "the next era of my career" but acknowledged the internal struggle he faced in deciding to leave a job where he'd become comfortable.

"There's a pingpong match that's been going on in my head for a week at least," Hyndman said. "All of us want to be challenged in our lives. I would never know what type of coach I would be in Major League Soccer if I didn't take this chance."

The hire comes less than a month after FC Dallas' embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy in front of the biggest home crowd in franchise history. Steve Morrow was fired two days later.

Hyndman made 30 trips to the NCAA tournament in 31 years as a college coach, including 23 of 24 seasons at SMU. The 58-year-old was No. 2 in career wins among active college coaches and made four trips to the College Cup, the Final Four of college soccer.

The Mustangs were 368-92-35 under Hyndman. His overall record was 466-123-49, including seven seasons at his alma mater, Eastern Illinois. About the only accomplishment that eluded him was a national championship, and Hyndman said he hopes his first comes in the form of an MLS title.

FC Dallas officials hope Hyndman is as successful as the other two coaches who made the leap from Division I college soccer in the league's 13 seasons: Bruce Arena from Virginia and Sigi Schmid from UCLA both have won MLS championships.

"Not bad company to follow," said general manager Michael Hitchcock, who praised the coach as "a passionate leader, a strong leader."

Hyndman acknowledged it was an advantage for him that, while at SMU, he coached Clark Hunt, the chairman of Hunt Sports Group and parent company of FC Dallas.

"We know each other, and he knows what I can do," Hyndman said.

Hyndman's first task: convince players that he has the chops to coach professionals. He said he faces a learning curve but believes it will be in the areas of understanding league rules, scouting and the salary cap.

"I think players will know if a person can coach or can't coach _ immediately," Hyndman said. "The area I feel most comfortable with is the coaching."

FC Dallas is 4-5-4 and in third place in the West. Its next game is Saturday on the road against the New York Red Bulls.

FC Dallas was 2-3-3 nearly a month ago after the loss to the Galaxy. After Morrow was fired, assistant Marco Ferruzzi was named interim coach. He'll remain on staff under Hyndman, along with goalkeeper coach Drew Keeshan.

Hyndman also hired away former Real Salt Lake coach John Ellinger from U.S. Youth Soccer, where he was working as the organization's technical director.