FC Dallas heads into the 2014 MLS season after missing the playoffs during the last two seasons. The biggest news surrounding the club is the appointment of former player and fan-favorite Oscar Pareja, who hopes to continue his fruitful association with the team.
After spending six years as an assistant coach with FCD (following eight years of playing time), Pareja finally got an opportunity to become a head coach with the Colorado Rapids and did a decent job with the club — especially during the last season when he led the team to fifth spot in the West.
FCD has made some interesting offseason acquisitions so far with four mid-fielders and two forwards joining the club. The upcoming season holds promise for the team, as it hopes to ride on the excitement generated by Pareja’s arrival. The club’s decision to part company with two key players in Jackson and David Ferreira, as a result of the players’ tussle at halftime during a game against the Seattle Sounders, is spot on and it sends a strong message that unhealthy influences on a team atmosphere will not be tolerated.
On-loan Dynamo Kiev forward Andres Escobar, Blaz Perez and 23-year-old Uruguayan David Texeira should be the focal point of FCD’s goal-scoring tactics in the new season. Perez has led the team in scoring during the last two seasons and is poised to repeat the feat, as he is slated to feature for the team more often. These three players might take time to gel together but they would, nevertheless, be key for the team’s attacking prospects.
The arrival of former Wigan Athletic and Rapids player Hendry Thomas will add some physical strength to the team and his familiarity with Pareja would be an added bonus. Adam Moffat is another new arrival with similar numbers to Thomas, and both these players should adequately shore up the team’s defensive midfield strength if they manage to stay healthy.
Goalkeeper Raul Fernandez had a great season and with Peru missing the 2014 FIFA World Cup, FCD would hugely benefit from the shot-stopper’s increased presence with the club. FCD’s management deems that the club’s defensive strength is adequate as it is, but the team had the second-worst goals-allowed record in the conference last season and the issue poses real concern for Pareja. George John and Matt Hedges were the best players in this position in 2013 and Stephen Keel surprised everyone despite his limited playing time, but the fact that the team was breached 52 times does not bode well for this season’s ambitions.
Given the strength of the current team, FCD would definitely fancy finishing higher than they did last season in the West. The team had gotten off to a great start in 2013, but ultimately ended with a dismal record of only three wins in the last 13 league games. Finishing in a playoff spot should be the major objective for Pareja and if his team manages to replicate the early momentum from last year, it would have a fair shot of moving up to at least the fifth spot in the conference.
Keep checking our MLS section to continue following our series, previewing all 19 MLS squads’ seasons as first kick approaches on March 8 at CenturyLink Stadium.