Opta Spotlight: If injuries abate, Dallas could be explosive
Over the next three weeks, MLSsoccer.com will take a look back at the 2012 season that was for all 19 clubs in Major League Soccer, starting with Toronto FC and ending with the Supporters' Shield-winning San Jose Earthquakes. You can find the schedule and comprehensive reviews for each team here.
2012 record: 9-13-12 (39 points); 42 GF / 47 GA (-5 GD)
2012 FC Dallas Average Position
Like Philly before them, average position tells a story. Rather than provide much insight into the 2012 season, though, it 's an indication of just how debilitating Dallas' season of injuries truly was for Schellas Hyndman's squad.
Blas Perez isn't on here. Neither is Brek Shea or Fabian Castillo. That should change in 2013.
One positive to take from the graphic? David Ferreira is back in his customary place just behind a lone forward, and that should provide plenty of hope in the FC Dallas Stadium seats.
2012 FC Dallas Passing Matrix (Download HERE)
Nobody is going to accuse FC Dallas of channelling their inner Barca after finishing the 2012 season ahead of only Toronto FC in completed passes (9,429), the only two teams in MLS with fewer than 10,000.
That the top four passers in terms of successful volume – Zach Loyd (769), Jair Benitez (853), Daniel Hernandez (749) and Andrew Jacobsen (666) – are defenders or defensive-minded midfielders speaks to FCD's lack of extended possession high up the field.
Now, that's not to say Hyndman's side is punchless. They're plenty dangerous on the counter, and a healthy Ferreira should help improve opposition-half possession. Still, they actually completed more passes in 2012 than in 2011. It's certainly a theme to watch come 2013.
1) David Ferreira makes this team go, and keeping him healthy should be priority No. 1
The Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle rounded this one up nicely, but it's worth reinforcing. Ferreira is the engine, and FCD can't afford to throw a rod in 2013.
Dallas were second in the league in big-chance goals (26), and much of that had to do with the diminutive Colombian's return from an ankle injury that threatened to end his career.
He made just 16 starts but racked up nine assists and created 53 chances. To put that number in perspective, roughly 10 percent of his passes resulted in a chance for a teammate. Among the league's top players in chances created, only Seattle's Mauro Rosales and San Jose's Marvin Chavez boasted a better chance-to-pass ratio.
2) Things could have gotten really bad without the emergence of Matt Hedges
Remember what I said about injuries? Well, someone had to step up for FC Dallas to even have a chance of sniffing the playoff field, and that man was the rookie out of North Carolina.
He's not particularly quick and there is still plenty of work to do technically, but Hedges had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He led FCD with CBI+T (combined clearances, blocks, interceptions and tackles) with 341, almost 100 more than the second-closest player.
Sure, Dallas was worse defensively across the board – more goals and shots allowed compared to 2011 – but I'm blaming that on the revolving door next to Hedges (and all over the field) rather than pinning it on the rookie.
3) If Brek Shea rediscovers his 2011 form, watch out MLS
File this one under obvious analysis. Still, it's staggering how much of an effect a healthy, active and motivated Shea had on a Ferreira-less attack in 2011.
Left-footed attempts of all types dropped in 2012, and even with Ferreira around for half a season, attempts from open play plummeted (271 vs. 194).
Of course, not all of that production is down to Shea, but his presence certainly takes pressure off the rest of the squad. Hyndman (and Jurgen Klinnsman, for that matter) will be desperate to see one of MLS' most promising players find himself again.
Random nugget: Dallas took five penalty kicks and converted just two. Wasted chances.