Feb 22, 2013, 4:00 PM EST
Each day from now until the beginning of Major League Soccer’s 18th season, we will preview one Eastern Conference team and one from the West. First kick is March 2.
No. 7 in the West is FC Dallas:
Significant additions and subtractions: The team immediately put the proceeds to use from Brek Shea’s $4 million sell to Stoke City. That started with Kenny Cooper, who packed up his 18 goals from last year in arriving from New York in one of the league’s most newsy offseason exchanges. It fell within days of Dallas acquiring Eric Hassli, who was the centerpiece of Vancouver’s attack at this time last year.
Elsewhere, is Peter Luccin the holding midfielder that Julian de Guzman couldn’t quite be last year? (The Canadian international de Guzman is gone, by the way, now back in Europe in the 2.Bundesliga). We may be waiting to find out; Luccin has been out injured through most of the preseason. A late February trade with Houston brought Jamaican international Je-Vaughn Watson to help reinforce central midfield.
Daniel Hernandez, the team’s previous midfielder strong man, has retired.
Peruvian international goalkeeper Raul Fernandez has huge shoes to fill in replacing Kevin Hartman, whose high salary was deemed surplus by FCD management. It was a bold move considering how many times Hartman as turned no points into one, or one point into three over the past three seasons at FC Dallas Stadium.
CEO Doug Quinn is out; he’s part of the team’s “competition committee,” which makes player personnel decisions, but that should not affect the actual team on the field.
Strengths: A team that hasn’t had two top-level strikers in years now suddenly has three of them, with Cooper and Hassli joining Panamanian star Blas Perez.
How the team shape looks remains to be seen as manager Schellas Hyndman continues to experiment with various looks in preseason. They won’t need to make any hard decisions yet on which two strikers to deploy ( … or how to deploy all three?) as Hassli continues to nurse his way back to full health.
George John and promising sophomore Matt Hedges form a solid central defensive pairing.
Pressure points: Hartman was creeping up toward $200,000 in salary, which is heaping helping for a goalkeeper in MLS. On the other hand, Hartman was generally worth it.
Shea’s departure leaves FCD perilously thin on the flanks, with Fabian Castillo and Jackson set to start (and that’s not bad) but curiously little behind them. (Check out the depth chart and you’ll see.) Aren’t there still some nickels, dimes or dollars left over from the Shea profits?
Left back Jair Benitez isn’t the attacking force he was before, and his risky, combative defenders tends to put FCD in holes. And still no word on Ugo Ihemelu, who has been out since mid-year 2012 with concussion-related issues. Darn shame, too.
Difference maker: If playmaker David Ferreira can’t be large and in charge, this team isn’t going anywhere. And if we’re honest, he simply wasn’t the same influence upon return from injury in 2012. Perhaps asking him to be the 2010 Ferreira once again is asking too much, but that’s where it is for FC Dallas right now. They need their Colombian creator to be massive.
Potential breakout player: By mid-season 2012, Castillo was starting to figure it out. The decision making remains frequently dubious, but he’s so fast and talented that defenses are forced to pay attention. Just 20 years old, Castillo (pictured right) can deliver so much more than last year’s sum of 6 goals and 3 assists if Hyndman and Co. can get him pointed in the right direction.
Bottom line: Injuries crunched the team in 2012, but a lack of depth along the flanks threatens to be the team’s undoing this year. There’s ample offense; this team’s playoffs hopes will live and die on whether FC Dallas management has stockpiled enough defense.
Dec 19, 2013, 10:01 PM EST
Simple, cheap, and already in wide use. Giving the okay to vanishing spray was an obvious choice.
Dec 19, 2013, 8:54 PM EST
SI.com tabs the NBC studio host as this year’s best newcomer.
Dec 19, 2013, 7:33 PM EST
Six serious injuries but no casualties resulted tonight’s near-miss in Bekal.
Dec 19, 2013, 6:39 PM EST
U.S. Soccer’s 56-member panel as selected the program’s Best XI to celebrate the federation’s centennial.
Dec 19, 2013, 4:49 PM EST
Bluebird ownership is pushing the Scottish boss out the door, with a Monday email leaving Mackay’s departure practically inevitable.
Dec 19, 2013, 3:34 PM EST
The Western Conference champs kept it in-house, ensuring the team’s core philosophies will be in place come 2014.
Dec 19, 2013, 2:40 PM EST
With a victory, Liverpool will climb to the top of the Premier League table.
Dec 19, 2013, 2:00 PM EST
“My only conclusion is you have a business guy operating the club who knows absolutely nothing about football,” Rodgers said.
Dec 19, 2013, 1:20 PM EST
“It’s important to continue in the direction I set out on, which is to be in Europe,” Bradley said.
Dec 19, 2013, 12:10 PM EST
Might Google be the next big player in the battle for soccer broadcast rights? John Ourand thinks so.
Dec 19, 2013, 11:20 AM EST
The Football Association chairman Greg Dyke says Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere needs to grow up a bit.
Dec 19, 2013, 10:32 AM EST
While supporters and neutrals alike can’t help but dream of a March 2nd all-Manchester final, Jonny Evans is staying grounded.
Dec 19, 2013, 9:42 AM EST
So don’t let Rodgers’ passiveness fool you. Liverpool is pressing to lock Suarez down until kingdom come.
Dec 19, 2013, 9:01 AM EST
Go ahead and cross Andres Iniesta’s name off your club’s holiday wish-list.
Dec 19, 2013, 8:20 AM EST
“This is very bad for the team but there are a lot of players who want to play,” Dzeko said.
Dec 18, 2013, 11:39 PM EST
Chelsea has a problem. They must. The solution, however, is harder to find.
Dec 18, 2013, 9:56 PM EST
Two games or one? Arsenal’s going to make the case for the lighter punishment, according to Wednesday’s reports.
Dec 18, 2013, 8:51 PM EST
Donovan’s goal may have been the favorite, but Wambach’s goal won U.S. Soccer’s tournament.
Dec 18, 2013, 7:57 PM EST
You need this to keep up – because this has been a period of managerial transition like none other in Major League Soccer:
Dec 18, 2013, 7:05 PM EST
He gets a mulligan on a 2013 that went all kinds of wrong:
- Hamm, Wambach, Morgan lead U.S. Soccer’s all-time women’s best XI (but no Solo, Milbrett) 8
- Manchester derby in cards for League Cup final 1
- Brendan Rodgers cool on re-signing Luis Suarez to a new deal 2
- Abby Wambach’s 2011 goal against Brazil voted best moment in U.S. Soccer history 2
- Young’s blast, Evra’s insurance see Manchester United into League Cup semifinals 0
- Late Jarvis, Maiga goals see West Ham past Tottenham, into League Cup semifinals 2
- Report: Clint Dempsey will join Fulham on Jan. 1 for two-month loan (12)
- Spurs in hunt for new boss after sacking Andre Villas-Boas (10)
- Hamm, Wambach, Morgan lead U.S. Soccer’s all-time women’s best XI (but no Solo, Milbrett) (9)
- Mexico’s Monterrey dumped out of FIFA Club World Cup (7)
- Eddie Johnson to D.C. is happening: What this means for Seattle, United (7)
- Hodgson's Manaus Plan is Flawed
- Wilmer Cabrera on WC Draw: ''It's an Even Group''
- Germany Building Training Facility in Brazil
- Spain Thinking of US Camp Before World Cup
- Don't count out Chile in WC Group B
- Kicking it Off with a Final
- VIDEO: Visa World Cup Promo
- Aurelien Collin: I Think France is Very Very Happy
- Klinsmann Shouldn't Have Been Re-signed Before WC
- You Can't Beat German Sachlichkeit