Over the next two weeks, MLSsoccer.com will take a look back at the 2013 season that was for all 19 clubs in Major League Soccer, starting with D.C. United and ending with the Supporters' Shield-winning New York Red Bulls. You can find the schedule and comprehensive reviews for each team here.
2013 record: 11-12-11 (34 points); 48 GF / 52 GA (-4 GD)
FC Dallas fans endured a roller-coaster ride of a 2013 season that started off with a steep climb to the top, but never recovered from the precipitous drop that followed.
A surprising 8-2-3 start and table-topping position well into June was built on timely late goals and the set-piece service of newcomer Michel. The left-footed Brazilian helped make Dallas one of the most dangerous teams in the league on dead-ball situations, and he even scored a rare "olimpico" against Seattle.
Dallas found they had some major talent on their hands in Homegrown rookie Kellyn Acosta, offseason acquisition Raúl Fernández and summer signing Mauro Díaz. They also enjoyed off-field success by signing Toyota as the new stadium sponsor and by setting a club record for total attendance.
FCD began the season with the goal of simply making the playoffs after missing the postseason in 2012. The hot start naturally increased expectations drastically, but this set the stage for an ultimately disappointing finish to the season as Dallas missed the playoffs for the second straight year. They endured a 13-match winless run that saw them tumble from the Supporters' Shield lead in June to an eighth-place finish in the Western Conference.
Schellas Hyndman resigned as head coach in late October and 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira was released at the onset of an offseason of major change in Frisco.
Best Moment of the Year
Jair Benítez’s 50-yard strike against Vancouver on Sept. 7. Goals from this distance are such a rarity that they are always likely candidates for any “best of” lists, but this one was important because of more than just the distance.
It came on the heels of two other top-class goals in the same game (by Je-Vaughn Watson and Díaz), FCD played one of their best games of the year and the atmosphere in the stadium following Benítez’s bomb was electric. The 3-1 result ended a depressingly long home winless streak (since May 25), but more importantly, it gave the home faithful hope – albeit short-lived – that a postseason berth could still be salvaged from of the long summer swoon.
Worst Moment of the Year
The ugly and embarrassing on-field fight between Ferreira and Jackson right after the halftime whistle blew against Seattle on Oct. 19 was easily the low point of the year. The incident was the culmination of weeks of locker-room strife, according to Hyndman, and likely played a part in the decision to not pick up Ferreira’s option for 2014 and ship Jackson to TFC.
Díaz’s goal in the aforementioned Vancouver match. The long-distance hit by Benítez certainly had a high degree of difficulty, but there was also an element of luck as Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted was woefully out of position on the play. The volley by Díaz, on the other hand, was skill, timing, power and class rolled up in a fantastic hit from the run of play. It also showed one reason why FCD made the Argentine a young DP and have handed him the reins as their creative midfielder of the future.
This is the toughest accolade to hand out for FC Dallas in 2013. A case could be made for Michel, Blas Pérez, George John or Fernández as team MVP. Each was important to the club last season, but in a disappointing campaign that saw the team miss the playoffs after leading the league for much of the first half of the year and no standout leaders in any statistical area, it is difficult to single out any individual as having been the most valuable player to the team. In a way, that says everything you need to know about FCD’s season.
Eyebrows were certainly raised around the league when Dallas let all-time great Kevin Hartman go after the 2012 season and signed a relatively unknown, on these shores, Peruvian goalkeeper. But technical director Fernando Clavijo deserves credit for seeing something in Fernández that Ligue 1’s OGC Nice did not, as he had started only 2 games for the French side in his three seasons with the club. He faced stiff competition in the preseason from MLS veteran Chris Seitz for the No. 1 ‘keeper job, but once Hyndman inserted him between the pipes, Fernández quickly established himself as one of the best shot-stoppers in the league and was selected to start in the 2013 MLS All-Star Game.
"When the team doesn’t reach its goals – which is to get to the playoffs – I think everybody should be looked at from the coaches to the players. We all have to have a hand in the accountability." – Former head coach Schellas Hyndman in early October
1. Coach: FC Dallas still have not hired a head coach to replace Hyndman. The new head man will be inheriting a team built for another coach’s system, and the longer into the offseason the club goes before making their selection, the less influence the new gaffer will have on the makeup of the 2014 squad.
2. Defensive Midfielder: Peter Luccin (pictured right) was signed before the season to fill Daniel Hernandez’s cleats, but the Frenchman suffered an ACL injury minutes into his first training session and was lost for all but the last month of the season. Midseason acquisition Erick was not the answer as he never looked fit enough or strong enough for MLS play and was let go at the end of the season.
3. Captain: The 2013 team visibly lacked on-field leadership as now-former captain Ferreira was rarely a vocal presence during games. In the locker room, the 2010 MVP tended to stay in a clique with the other Spanish-speaking players. The team needs a leader that is demonstrative on the field, plays as well as he preaches and interacts with all of his teammates off the pitch. John and Luccin are the two most likely candidates for the role.