5 Key Players to FC Dallas’ 2014 MLS Season
FC Dallas: 5 Key Players For The 2014 MLS Season
FC Dallas had another disappointing season in 2013 as the team failed to reach the playoffs for the second year in a row. Although the team finished as low as eighth in the West, it had only three wins less than the Portland Timbers, which led the conference with 57 points.
The biggest news surrounding FCD’s offseason so far has been the appointment of former player and fan-favorite Oscar Pareja as the head coach. Pareja certainly exceeded expectations during his two-year stint with the Colorado Rapids, and the 24-32-12 record of the team during his tenure more than justifies this claim for someone with no prior experience in the post at the time of appointment.
Dynamo Kiev striker Andres Escobar and veteran Honduran midfielder Hendry Thomas are the biggest acquisitions by Pareja after his arrival at FCD, and with the presence of a healthy set of MLS veterans like Jair Benitez, Adam Moffat and George John in the squad, FCD can be counted upon to make an impact in the league this season.
As the team prepares to move ahead from the era of Schellas Hyndman, Pareja’s passion and enthusiasm for the club where he spent 14 long years has given plenty of excitement for the fans and the players. Optimism is the word that best describes the club atmosphere at the moment as it prepares to kick off the new season at the Toyota Stadium against the Montreal Impact.
Let us now take a look at five players whose performances over the course of the season could influence FCD’s fortunes and have an impact on the team’s position after 34 games.
5. George John
John’s ability to stay healthy throughout the season could be crucial for Dallas’s hopes of improving its position in the West and pushing for a playoff spot. The veteran defender is a natural leader on the pitch, and FCD does not have the same stability in defense if he misses out. He is already in doubt for the opening game against Montreal, and Pareja must hope that the player makes a quick recovery from the back injury that has also caused him to miss all the preseason matches.
4. Mauro Diaz
Mauro Diaz’s playing time had been limited by an unfortunate injury last season after the player scored thrice and set up two goals in 10 matches. Diaz showed enough talent to suggest that he could find significant playing time under Pareja and if he stays fit throughout the 2014 season, FCD might benefit from his role as an attacking midfielder.
3. Fabian Castillo
Fabian Castillo started 26 games last season, but found it tough to replicate his goal-scoring form from 2012. Pareja’s familiarity with the player might help Castillo make a greater impact this season, and the arrival of fellow Colombian Escobar could be crucial as the speedy wingers could complement each other.
2. David Texeira
Uruguayan striker David Texeira is an out-and-out striker, and technical director Fernando Clavijo was finally able to acquire the player after following him since the 2011 Under-20 World Cup. He is expected to provide valuable cover for Blas Perez, who is the club’s leading goal scorer during the last two seasons. Clavijo has high expectation for the young Designated Player, and Texeira could prove valuable to the team’s goal-scoring plans if Pareja manages to tap into the player's potential.
1. Matt Hedges
Center-back Matt Hedges could be the team’s captain this season, and Pareja has nothing but praise for the young star. The 23-year old was the fifth-most accurate passer in all of MLS last season and the only FCD player in the category’s top 50. Along with a healthy John, he could play a crucial role in improving the team's defensive performances, while ensuring Dallas does not concede as many goals as the team did last season: 52, which was good enough for the second-worst in the conference.