- FC Dallas
- Western Conference
- Home: Toyota Stadium
- U.S. Open Cup: 1997
Year two of head coach Oscar Pareja's youth movement in Frisco is in the books and things have been trending in the right direction for FC Dallas.
Dallas' faith in both their Academy and young prospects from abroad paid dividends for the club in 2015, bringing them within one goal of the second MLS Cup berth in franchise history. They've stuck to that blueprint this season, perhaps leaning slightly more on foreign imports than in years past.
"We are very certain that the way are doing things is the right way to do it," FC Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo said. "We were one step away from getting to the title last year, but [now] we are more sure than ever."
FC Dallas made a number of changes to its roster, but their young core remains intact with the likes of Fabian Castillo, Mauro Diaz, and Jesse Gonzalez. The team actually became younger after jettisoning Blas Perez to Vancouver, Dan Kennedy to Los Angeles, and saying goodbye to the aging Michel and Je-Vaughn Watson.
While they did add a seasoned campaigner in Mauro Rosales, many of Dallas' newcomers are young players with big game experience, like Ecuadorian Deisgnated Player Carlos Gruezo. Clavijo is hoping even the new youngsters, in addition to Rosales and fellow veteran addition Maynor Figueroa, will jumpstart the youngsters' growth even more.
"Sometimes for those young players, for those Homegrowns, they need to have a little bit of leadership around them to develop properly," Clavijo said. "I think that's what we have done this year without really changing much of our picture."
Dallas has a thick schedule ahead of them with the CONCACAF Champions' League added onto the normal slate of Open Cup and league play. Clavijo believes the team has added plenty of talented depth and fresh, young legs to not only manage their busy schedule, but conquer it.
"I think last year was not just a lucky season. It was something that shows our kids are growing, our kids are developing and getting experience," Clavijo said. "And last year for many of these young players, they've never been in the positions we were. Hopefully this year we can bypass those obstacles."
Armchair Analyst's Save
It feels like this is their year, right? Season three of working for a beloved coach who happens to be a club icon; a roster filled with players in or just entering their primes, most of whom have improved greatly since 2013; and an academy that seems to spit out MLS-ready talent at something approaching conveyor belt-level regularity. Those are the main ingredients, but they also went out and added a forward who proved to be perhaps the league’s best off-the-bench game-changer, then got a back-up attacking midfielder for when Diaz inevitably misses a stretch of games.
It really is hard to find any particular scabs to pick at with this team, save perhaps for the lack of a true target forward and maybe a little bit of depth along the back line.
As a natural skeptic, it makes me uneasy to see things lining up so predictably. But if I were a Dallas fan, I’d be pumped for 2016.
Key Offseason Transactions
KEY PLAYERS IN:
KEY PLAYERS OUT:
Carlos Gruezo<br><a href="//www.mlssoccer.com/players/juan-esteban-ortiz">Juan Esteban Ortiz</a><br><a href="//www.mlssoccer.com/players/maximiliano-urruti">Maximiliano Urruti</a><br><a class="small" href="//www.mlssoccer.com/topic/transactions">All transactions</a>
Blas Perez<br> David Texeira<br> Je-Vaughn Watson
Player to Watch: Kellyn Acosta
The 20-year-old midfielder came into his own last year, holding down a central midfield spot despite challenges from veteran players and a stint at the U-20 World Cup. Now he has two senior US caps under his belt, and his continued growth as an all-around midfielder will be of great interest to fans of both Dallas and the USMNT.
Gonzalez; Harris - Loyd - Hedges - Hollingshead; Ulloa - Acosta; Barrios - Diaz - Castillo; Urruti
Matt Hedges led all defenders in fantasy points last season, but you’ll have to pay up for him at $9.0m. You’ll also have to pay up for Top 10 fantasy midfielders Fabian Castillo ($10.5) and Mauro Diaz ($10.0m), who are both more than capable of expanding on their fantasy point output from 2015.