2020 Season Preview: FC Dallas

It felt like FC Dallas were a team that still had more to give... after their 2019 season ended in Seattle in one of the wildest playoff matches the league has ever seen. 

That's a testament to the work of first-year head coach, Luchi Gonzalez, who oversaw a team that grew in belief as the season wore on, despite the ups and downs that came with integrating several younger academy products as starters.

That commitment to playing their young talents has earned FC Dallas plenty of respect in soccer circles. Now the acquisition of a handful of wily veterans in key positions (including at forward) should help FCD transition from pleasant surprise to serious playoff contender in the 2020 Western Conference.

2019 Finish

  • MLS Reg. Season: 48 points (13W-12L-9D), 7th in West / 13th overall
  • MLS Cup Playoffs: Eliminated in Western Conf. Round One (vs. Seattle Sounders)
  • U.S. Open Cup: Eliminated in Rd. of 16 (vs. New Mexico United)

Star players

  • Paxton Pomykal — When Pomykal is back and fully fit after October sports hernia surgery, it'll be hard to keep him off the field. Such is his impact on this team when he's in form. If he can stay injury free, a trip to the Tokyo Summer Olympics with the USA could be in the cards.   
  • Jesus Ferreira — The 2020 Olympics will also be a goal of this 19-year-old academy product, who recently made his U.S. senior national team debut. The attacker and son of former MLS MVP David Ferreira, has room to improve on his first season as a regular starter when it comes to both consistency and production.
  • Michael Barrios — In each of his five seasons with FC Dallas, Barrios has proven to be a nightmare for opposing fullbacks. His acceleration and dribbling skills make him elusive on the wing and lots of fun to watch. After a career high 15-assist season in 2019, defenders will once again know what's coming, but they'll have a hard time stopping it.

Extratime Analysis: FC Dallas

Key acquisitions and departures

  • IN: Franco Jara — One of the most prolific scorers in Liga MX will join Dallas this summer. His goals against FCD in the 2017 Champions League earned him a spot on the club's wish list in the hope he can prove to be the solution to the club's center forward conundrum of recent years.
  • IN: Fafa Picault — The dynamic and speedy winger is one of the most exciting players to watch in MLS. He should make for a seamless fit into FCD's system.
  • IN: Thiago Santos — The experienced Brazilian defensive midfielder is expected to slot right in and become a leader for what has generally been a young midfield corps.
  • OUT: Dominique Badji — The forward offered a solid contribution to FC Dallas in 2019, but with the arrivals of Picault and Jara, FCD could afford to trade him to Nashville for a decent haul of cash.
  • OUT: Pablo Aranguiz — The Aranguiz experiment appears to be over, at least for now. After spending the second half of 2019 on loan, the 22-year-old playmaker was again loaned out for all of 2020.

Projected Starting XI

2020 Roster

  • Goalkeepers (3): Jesse Gonzalez, Jimmy Maurer, Kyle Zobeck
  • Defenders (10): Nkosi Burgess, Bressan, Reggie Cannon, Matt Hedges, Ryan Hollingshead, Callum Montgomery, Eddie Munjoma, John Nelson, Bryan Reynolds, Reto Ziegler
  • Midfielders (10): Bryan Acosta, Michael Barrios, Edwin Cerrillo, Santiago Mosquera, Paxton Pomykal, Thomas Roberts, Thiago Santos, Dante Sealy, Brandon Servania, Tanner Tessmann
  • Forwards (6): Francis Atuahene, Jesus Ferreira, Zdenek Ondrasek, Ricardo Pepi, Fafa Picault, Ema Twumasi

Armchair Analyst: Strengths and weaknesses

  • Strength: They were a playoff team that came closer to beating the eventual champs than anyone, brought back basically every player of note, strengthened a couple of spots and should have meaningful improvement from within given how many of their contributors are in their early 20s/late teens. They’re basically “Upside FC.”
  • Weakness: Their late-season surge was powered by some goalscoring heroics from Zdenek Ondrasek that don’t, on the face of it, seem entirely sustainable, and while Fafa Picault is one of the best pressing wingers in the league he’s not the type of finisher Dallas fans have been yearning for. It will continue to be an open question as to whether this team can put the ball in the net in the biggest moments.

Predictions

  • Ben Baer: 6th in West
  • Marcelo Balboa (Univision): 8th in West
  • Calen Carr: 5th in West
  • Charlie Davies: 5th in West
  • Matt Doyle: 5th in West
  • Kristian Jack (TSN): 8th in West
  • Frederic Lord (TVA Sports): 7th in West
Series: