Soccer fans rejoice – the 2016 MLS season has arrived. That means FC Dallas is back again.
Since beginning in 1967, no other Dallas team has forged such a risk-taking legacy as FC Dallas. Originally the Dallas Tornado – and one of the very first professional American soccer clubs – the team was largely composed of European transplants looking for a second wind on this side of the Atlantic.
Throughout the 80s, professional soccer continued to evolve with the rise of the Dallas Sidekicks, an indoor team built on Tornado players like Neil Cohen and Billy Phillips. In 1994, soccer rocketed to the next level when the United States hosted the World Cup. The next year, Dallas was awarded a charter team in MLS.
We'll consider who has left, who has arrived, and throw in some season predictions for good measure. This team would, in 2005, become FC Dallas. Since then, the club has continued to see great successes on and off the field. They've admirably played a big part in helping local youth soccer leagues grow. Today, however, we're going to take a look at their play between the touchlines.
18 wins – 6 draws – 10 losses, 60 points, first place in WC, MLS Cup Semi-finalists
2015 goals for:
52 goals (fifth in MLS)
2015 goals against:
39 (tied for third in MLS)
Maxi Urruti, Maynor Figueroa, Carlos Gruezo
Walker Zimmerman, Dan Kennedy, Blas Perez
Were it not for a disappointing away performance against the Portland Timbers in November – and a subsequent fight to a draw in the next game – FC Dallas may very well have made the MLS Cup Final. It didn't work out that way, but this is an incredibly good team with a roster that's still largely intact from last season.
"This is an incredibly talented team with a roster that's still largely intact from last season."
The team's leaders haven't changed. Fabian Castillo, the club's fast and furious winger, is still leading the attack. Mauro Diaz, who in 24 games last season managed eight goals and 10 assists, is one of the most dynamic playmakers on the field. If he can stay healthy all season, we might be looking at a league MVP candidate.
SB Nation's Burgundy Wave blog reminded us not to forget the fact that FC Dallas' roster also boasts seven Homegrown players, which leaves plenty of cap space open for more signings. In last year's draft they picked up the talented Dan Kennedy, who has proven an excellent number two to Jesse Gonzalez.
Maxi Urruti was a solid pick-up for late-game play, and Carlos Gruezo, the young midfielder from Ecuador, will fit right in at defensive midfield next to Victor Ulloa. Depending on defensive formation, FC Dallas could easily have one of the best midfields in the MLS this season. We're excited to see how they use it.
As for potential pitfalls, it's hard to point out even one. Sure, offensive game changer Blas Perez is gone, but his lack of speed curbed defensive efforts last season. It may take some time to adjust to his absence, but with as many young and talented players as this club has, it could just be a great opportunity for new stars to arise.
If there's anything in FC Dallas' 2016 season that looks the least bit troubling, it's the slight possibility their defense won't be quite as lock-down as it was last year. There's also the chance that some of their younger Homegrown players don't grow like they're expected to, but that seems unlikely given their promise.
The Burgundy Wave blog mentioned the big-figure rumors that have been swirling for a while now about Castillo's transfer fee – particularly if he puts on the same show he did last season – but we'll have to wait and see on that one. For now, FC Dallas is looking close to unstoppable.
Some sports teams expect nothing less than the best. FC Dallas is one of them. This team, with all its incredible talent, should finally do what it couldn't do in 2015. FC Dallas will make its way to the MLS Cup Final this year.