a new venue, adding new players, a new look and name. But that hasn't changed the optimism of Simo Valakari as he enters his second MLS season.
The Finnish international is coming off a solid 2004 season in the Dallas midfield, starting 26 matches and scoring one goal while adding four assists. Valakari played with Finland side FinnPa, Scotland's Motherwell and Derby County of England prior to arriving at FC Dallas.
"I think so far I am very optimistic and we are practicing very well," said Valakari.
The team hopes to bounce back from less than desirable season last year, after finishing in the cellar of the Western Conference and missing the MLS Cup Playoffs for a second consecutive year. FC Dallas has now moved to Spain for their next phase of preseason training, claiming a 2-1 victory against Norwegian club Molde in their first game in La Manga.
"It's all about results," added Valakari.
And then, as noted by Valakari, it will be about giving FC Dallas fans something to cheer about once the new Frisco Soccer and Entertainment Complex is finished and opened.
"It's all about getting fans into the game," Valakari said. "It is a new stadium and it is our stadium. The fans say it is our stadium and our team."
The new stadium will join the likes of The Home Depot Center in Los Angeles and Crew Stadium in Columbus as the only soccer-specific stadiums in MLS. "It will be like in Europe," said Valakari.
FC Dallas will play their first six home games at the Cotton Bowl, until the finishing touches are put on the new stadium and it's ready for occupancy for an Aug. 6 clash against the MetroStars.
Ron Goode is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.