Dallas fortifies defense with veteran

As FC Dallas look toward the beginning of the regular season, they have made a big step in solidifying their defense with the acquisition of Greg Vanney. The Arizona native arrived in town last weekend and watched his new comrades participate in a preseason match in which the team defeated a college side 3-0.

Vanney reached a mutual agreement with his former club in which he would come to MLS on loan until December 2005. At that point, his contract with SC Bastia of French Ligue 1 will be terminated and he will have the option to transfer to MLS, meaning he would come to the league on a free transfer.

"(Vanney) will add experience and some good leadership qualities and he's been through it all, he's won a championship, he's played at the highest level -- national team and obviously over in France -- so it's a good addition for us," said FC Dallas head coach Colin Clarke.

The defender has the opportunity to immediately step into a starting role and control the defense. He will move back to his accustomed position of central defender, a position he never had the luxury of playing while in France, as he was limited to playing left back better than two years.

The team has a core of good young defenders that can learn and lean on Vanney for guidance and knowledge. Currently, FC Dallas have four center backs: Clarence Goodson, Steve Jolley, Drew Moor and Alex Yi with Vanney now the fifth. The surplus of center backs will provide the team a chance to prepare and groom the younger players for increased responsibilities.

"I have a lot of confidence in the guys that are in front of me, and the guys are really maturing. They are great players and the only way they are going to get better is the more they play," said goalkeeper Jeff Cassar.

Goodson used the offseason to prepare mentally and could be ready to step into the first team. Jolley is currently rehabilitating his injury and looks to return to the club soon. Moor is a versatile player that can play different positions in the defense. Yi has acclimated well after coming into the league from Belgium.

Only time will be the true test for FC Dallas and their defense, but in the interim the addition of Greg Vanney is a positive improvement for the club, one more step in Clarke's commitment to reconstruct his team as they look to reach MLS Cup 2005 to be played in their new home.

Ron Goode is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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