FRISCO, Texas – Attack-minded FC Dallas added a whole lot more ammunition this week.
With the signing of Colombian midfielder/forward Carlos Lizarazo and trade for former Whitecaps midfielder Mauro Rosales, Dallas have now added five new midfielders or forwards this offseason in addition to the previous acquisitions of Carlos Gruezo, Maximiliano Urruti and Juan Ortiz.
“My experience has taught me that the league is tough and that it’s a long year,” Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja said. “We were thin last year in the middle, and we wanted to give them a lot of the games. But at the same time, when we competed in the [US] Open Cup, we suffered. The [hectic schedule] of the league this year after the summer is going to be critical, and I want to have at least two players for each position… all these positions have been upgraded for sure.”
It’s depth that will come in handy when considering Dallas’ increased workload this year. In addition to regular season MLS games and Open Cup, Dallas will also play in the CONCACAF Champions League due to their first-place finish in the Western Conference last regular season.
“We have three total tournaments this year that we want to take very seriously with a lot of compromise in commitment to get results,” Pareja said. “That demand requires a lot of players and to have a team that is very deep. In our case, it’s a long season, and the way the season has been marked for us, we all need to have these numbers on the roster.”
The addition of Lizarazo gives FC Dallas another player who can play both forward and attacking midfield, similar to Michael Barrios and Tesho Akindele. But Pareja was candid about Lizarazo needing time to get fit for league play, considering a host of injuries he has suffered the last two seasons.
“I haven’t really put a timeframe on him,” Pareja said. “His progress has been tremendous over the last 10 days. I see a player with a lot of desire, and I know the competition is going to be needed for him. But at the same time, I see a player who understands the game very well, and maybe his adaptation can be shorter than we all thought.”
Rosales is a different story. The 34-year-old Argentine slides into the scrum of midfielders as the oldest player on Dallas’ roster, putting him in an immediate leadership role while also providing the club with the ability to play multiple positions.
“I think Mauro’s versatility is in the attacking mentality that he has,” Pareja said. “Obviously the experience he brings to the team is important, and I can see a player that loves the game and takes care of his body and is a good role model for our youth. On the field, his ability to be that team player who can set up other people and assist and contribute to the attacking phase of this team.”
Rosales started 19 games for the Whitecaps last season, recording one goal and three assists. While starts may be more difficult to come by on a young Dallas roster that is stacked in the middle, the Argentine said he’s happy he was traded to another team with a championship mentality.
“They’re one of the toughest teams to play against,” Rosales told MLSSoccer.com of his new club. “They have good form, they’re good, they have quality players, [and] they’re skillful. It was always a difficult rivalry. Last year was amazing how they performed, so I’m happy to join and give my part.”
Pareja was never one to shy away from juggling his lineup in 2015, and he’ll have even more tools to work with this season. But even though Pareja admits this year’s squad is deeper than they were at this point last season, he knows repeating and building on last year’s success is not guaranteed.
“This roster has to go through the lessons during the year,” Pareja said. “Soccer is a very unpredictable game. Nothing secures you anything – not even a checkbook will guarantee you anything. We cannot have a quarterback who is the best of the best and always gives you a 90 percent chance of winning. It’s not our game. Our game is beautiful, our game is unpredictable. You earn it on the training ground, you earn it working. The line is very tiny, and we are happy with the roster. But we have a lot of work to do still.”