Veteran defender Greg Vanney is looking to make an immediate impact -- as a central defender -- for FC Dallas when they open their season at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday against the Chicago Fire.
Known for his lethal left foot the versatile defender can play either on the left or centrally in the back, but his departure from FC Bastia in France was somewhat due to his inability to move into the heart of the defense. The veteran will be relied on for his leadership and his MLS championship experience from his first stint in the league with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
"I'll play more centrally here," said Vanney, "take more of a leadership role organizing the group, helping us build out of the back and maybe (provide) a little more composure on the ball."
That leadership will be key early on as an injury to Steve Jolley will put Vanney in the middle paired with Clarence Goodson. The MLS sophomore showed well as a rookie in limited minutes and should benefit from Vanney's guidance in defense.
"It's a young group in the back with me, a few guys with just a year or two of experience and Bobby Rhine, who is now playing right back has obviously experience in the league but not at right back," Vanney said.
"I think the organization that comes from me is going to be important for us to be a successful group in the back. We're talented, but what it comes down to -- to defend well -- you have to defend as a unit as a group and that's going to be my role to make sure we're a unit."
The first test for the young group will be this Saturday as FC Dallas plays their first match under their new name at the Cotton Bowl in downtown Dallas. The season opener also marks the first Brimstone Cup match of the season, which always brings the best out of both teams.
"Everybody is excited, it's a long preseason and sometimes they start to wear on guys," said Vanney. "In the final week guys get excited when things are about to start to kick off the season.
"This year is an exciting year for Dallas in a lot of ways, we've brought in some new faces -- myself and Richard (Mulrooney) -- we'll see how the roster finishes up in the next couple weeks. A lot of guys are looking forward to our possibilities this year and this week starts it off so we're ready to go."
Scott Joiner is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.