While there is plenty of promise in Dallas with the new stadium in Frisco, the arrival of goal-scoring machine Carlos Ruiz, a new look and new name, there's another perhaps overlooked aspect of the 10th season of MLS that has FC Dallas looking optimistically forward: the addition of the reserve division.
This Sunday will be the first game of the new division for the FC Dallas reserves as they play the reserves from Club Deportivo Chivas USA.
"It gives our players that aren't playing regularly a chance to play against legitimate opposition," said FC Dallas head coach Colin Clarke. "There are so many positives. They've expanded the rosters so you've got more people in here, the experience of being a pro, and just getting better. It's great for the game, it needed to happen."
The extra spots will give coaches a chance to gamble on players who have the skill and potential, but can't quite jump right into the starting 11.
One good example of a reserve that is eager for a chance to shine is midfielder Ramon Nuñez. The young Honduran international has tremendous talent, but with Ronnie O'Brien and Oscar Pareja ahead of him he has rarely played.
"It's definitely a great opportunity to prove yourself," said Nuñez. "It's also a good way for the young guys coming up to get some games in."
The reserve league will not only allow the fringe players -- rookies and local talent -- to learn on the job, it will also be a way for injured starters to get a game in. In the past, coaches would have to take a chance on a player who wasn't 100 percent ready, but now they have the option of giving that player a good solid test with the reserves to see if he's prepared to contribute again.
"I'm excited about it," said Clarke about his reserve team's first match. "Now that we're not playing against college teams we're playing other MLS teams [and] I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be a big bonus for us this year."
Scott Joiner is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.