Leadership key for Dallas push

rather than replacing any offseason departures.

"You aim to get through each year and hope you can keep the good side, but you've got and add to it -- and we've added to it with the likes of Richard (Mulrooney) and (defender) Greg Vanney," said Clarke.

"When Greg (Vanney) arrives here we will have two very good experienced pros and proven winners. They are good professionals and good leaders. They are all the things you are looking for."

Mulrooney has embraced being a leader with both arms -- and being a leader comes natural for him.

"I don't even think twice about it, it just comes naturally," he said. "I had guys in San Jose that help prep me -- and prepare for me in return, to where I became a veteran such as I am now -- and pass it on to the younger guys."

That word "leadership" is also ringing in the ears of even the young guns in Clarke's squad. The group is full of youth and plenty of potential, and one such youngster with the Texas team who has more than filled his potential of late is U.S. international striker Eddie Johnson.

However, despite his superb showing for Bruce Arena's team, Haynes now wants to see his potential translated into a more advanced leadership role within the Dallas squad.

"Eddie has to step up and be a leader. He's 20 years old and guess what? When Landon Donovan was 20, he was a leader in San Jose," said the assistant coach. "The kid has got to grow up; he's been growing up -- and he is going to have to show that."

Haynes also praised the abilities of his younger troops, while adding that they will be tasked with increased responsibility.

"The young players that we have here are tremendous; the ones we have coming in are tremendous," he added. "The way coach Clarke is going to implement the young players into the team this year is going to be awesome."

The defense will also have to step up. The acquisition of Vanney -- expected to be completed soon -- will provide stability and leadership, to help fill the void left by Cory Gibbs.

Since coming to the club, Alex Yi has been developing -- but at what level still has yet to be decided.

"He is doing all right. We still have to learn him. We have to understand his strengths and weaknesses," said Haynes.

Yi might also be expected to bring some leadership despite his tender age after beginning his professional career in Belgium. Regardless, the entire will be able to rely upon a veteran such as Richard Mulrooney as he helps bridge the gap between youth and wisdom.

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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