2011 Club by Club
New England Revolution
New York Red Bulls
Real Salt Lake
San Jose Earthquakes
Sporting Kansas City
Though it ended in forgettable fashion with a loss in the Wild Card round, the 2011 season was a memorable one for FC Dallas. The team found unprecedented success early in the year, but faltered in key games down the stretch, squandering any hope of hoisting a trophy and making a return to MLS Cup too tall an ask.
David Ferreira was lost for the season, dealing the team an early-season blow. But Brek Shea, a Best XI member and MVP finalist, had a breakout year, scoring 11 goals and becoming the face of the franchise.
With a record of 15-12-7, Dallas finished fourth in the West but came unstuck in the postseason against the New York Red Bulls. Youngster Brek Shea came into his own, and broke into the US national team under Jurgen Klinsmann with several impressive performances for the Texas side.
When FC Dallas escaped Mexico City with a 1-0 win over Pumas UNAM in CONCACAF Champions League Play on Aug. 17, the club became the first MLS squad ever to win on Mexican soil. Midfielder Marvin Chávez’s goal in the 65th minute stunned the Mexican side and marked the club’s third consecutive shutout victory in CCL play.
Ferreira’s injury hurt the team tactically, but the shocking death of Bobby Rhine on Sept. 5 to a heart attack will have a lasting impact on FC Dallas for years to come. The franchise icon spent more than a decade with the organization as both a player and a member of the front office and broadcast booth following his retirement in 2008. The club paid tribute to Rhine in a Sept. 17 home match against New York, wearing black armbands and observing a moment of silence. The players pressed on with heavy hearts as they dedicated the remainder of their season to his memory.
Another stellar moment from Shea came in June, as the goal of the year for FC Dallas came in loss to Sporting Kansas City. The Texan native took possession just inside midfield and quickly turned towards goal, sprinted at the Sporting defense and split two defenders before sidestepping a sliding third. He then cut back towards goal to beat a fourth defender before slotting a low shot past ‘keeper Eric Kronberg.
Veteran Kevin Hartman proved his worth throughout the year, as he marshaled the Dallas defense to a solid effort. In stoppage time of a 2-2 game at Philadelphia on Aug. 13, the Union were pressuring the Dallas defense hard in search of a winner. Sébastien Le Toux played a corner kick to an unmarked Keon Daniel, who put a powerful header towards goal. The ball took a deflection off of defender Ugo Ihemelu, changing its trajectory. But Kevin Hartman, with his momentum going left, managed to reverse direction, dove and got his right hand on it, preserving the draw.
Hartman was spectacular in 2011, but Shea was simply irreplaceable. After Ferreira went down with his injury, the team was without a legitimate scoring threat. In stepped the US international, who transitioned from the backline to a dynamic scoring threat on the left flank. In 31 games, Shea registered 11 goals, five of which were game-winners. He also added four assists, two of which proved decisive. Despite the loss of last season’s MVP, Shea carried the team to the MLS Cup Playoffs on the strength of his left foot.
Another plus point was youngster Andrew Jacobson, who was instrumental to the team’s success as a newcomer to the side. After coming over from Philadelphia via trade in the offseason, he earned a starting position in the midfield and led the team with five assists. He also played well at center back during the George John transfer saga. The 25-year-old played through a knee injury in the latter stages of the season but already underwent surgery this offseason and expects to return to 2012 training camp at 100 percent.