After nearly two weeks of training, the first preseason game of 2015 finally kicks off for FC Dallas on Wednesday morning in Orlando as FC Dallas will face MLS debutants Orlando City SC at 11:00AM .
Whereas last year, FC Dallas took a two-week trip to UAE early in the preseason, Wednesday's game against Orlando City and Saturday's match against Jonkopings Sodra represent the only matches in this preseason that FCD will play outside the state of Texas.
Here's three things to watch for as FCD goes 11v11 for the first time against another opponent on Wednsday morning:
First run out
The first game is always a little bit of a touch and go exercise for the first teamers, and you wouldn't expect any of them to get more than 45 minutes of game time. For veterans like Zach Loyd, Victor Ulloa, David Texeira and company, Wednesday's game is a solid first chance to work out the cobwebs and begin to get back into game shape.
With the preseason tournament in Austin next weekend serving as a much more formal preseason experience playing in front of the paying fans, this week in Florida will be a little more relaxed games providing some match fitness under the sun in Florida.
Who earns a spot?
Of course, for guys trying to earn a contract, these games can have huge importance and many times the second halves are much more interesting than the first as the guys trying to earn a roster spot put their best foot forward. Oscar Pareja has a myriad of trialists and draft picks in there including Will Seymore, Jaineil Hoilett, Aurelio Saco-Vertiz, Juan Toja and Ezquiel Straccia, so look out for some of these names and how they do.
Spots are certainly limited, but with Matt Hedges and Blas Perez out on international duty, there will be some playing time that the young guys will look to take advantage of.
The answer to a trivia question
For the opponents Orlando City SC, Wednesday will reportedly be the first match for Brazilian Designated Player Kaka. The 2007 Ballon d'Or winner will make his first appearance of the preseason for Orlando City and FC Dallas will forever be the answer to the trivia question of who was the first MLS team he faced.
Stay tuned to FC Dallas social media tomorrow for full coverage of the match!
The champs visit Toyota Stadium twice in 2015, with the first match coming on Saturday, May 9 at 7:30PM, the third Premier Match of the season.
Any time the Galaxy come to town, it's an occasion not to be missed, and with a Saturday night kickoff in the middle of spring, this one is definitely going to be a packed house at Toyota Stadium.
FC Dallas is 3-1-1 in their last five at home against Los Angeles and any time FCD faces the Galaxy, you can bet some late drama is in the cards.
While Landon Donovan has ridden off into the U.S. Soccer sunset and Steven Gerrard doesn't arrive until later in the season, the Galaxy still boast perhaps the most fascinating forward in the league in Robbie Keane as well as Dallas-native Omar Gonzalez; so there's plenty of talent to watch on the other end of the field, but this one is all about FC Dallas.
With this game being the sixth of seven home games in the first 11 matches of the season, FCD has a chance to make a real statement to the rest of the league with this one and you definitely don't want to miss it.
Drama happens when FCD and the Galaxy play (see below). Get the best seat in the house now for the next chapter as single-game tickets are available!
By Demetrio Teniente
With Houston moving back into the western conference this season, FC Dallas will play the Dynamo three times in 2015, intensifying the tension and excitement of the Texas Derby pres. by Novo Nordisk. Two of those games will be right here at Toyota Stadium and the June 26 matchup, the first MLS visit from Houston in over two years, is our fourth Premier Match of 2015.
For those of you unfamiliar with the rivalry, you should know that the Texas Derby is kind of a big deal; just ask FC Dallas defender Stephen Keel and former FCD defender George John.
The winner of the series is crowned the best team in Texas and gets to take home a replica 18th century mountain howitzer cannon, affectionately named El Capitán. The games are full of passion, tension and controversy both on the field and in the stands.
Last season, FC Dallas swept Houston in the season series with two emphatic wins at BBVA Compass Stadium, winning 4-1 win in MLS play and 3-2 in overtime in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup - keeping El Capitán in Frisco. FCD hasn’t lost to Houston since 2012, winning four times in a row in all competitions.
Not only will this be a great rivalry match in the middle of the season, but it’s also a chance to catch two of the most dynamic forwards in MLS go head-to-head in FC Dallas’ Blas Perez and Houston Dynamo’s Giles Barnes. Both Barnes and Perez finished the 2014 MLS season with 11 goals.
The Texas Derby is, hands down, FC Dallas’ biggest and most heated rivalry. And since this match is the second of three, it is quite possible that either team could secure the series title with a win (though we all know there's really only one team that will come into this one with a chance to clinch the cannon).
FC Dallas added another major piece to the 2015 puzzle on Wednesday trading allocation money for Toronto FC midfielder Kyle Bekker. The Canadian has 29 appearances in two years in MLS as well as 13 apperances for the Canadian National Team including seven starts. His last appearance for Canada came in a 0-0 draw against Panama in late November.
So what kind of player is FC Dallas getting in Bekker? Well we definitely have some information to break down the 24-year-old's game.
There is certainly a lot of similarities to Victor Ulloa in Bekker's game. They're both two-way midfielders who have a little more defensive tint to their game than offensive, but they do a good job at retaining the ball and getting it to the dangermen. For an FC Dallas midfield that found itself thin as the season wore on last year, Bekker will provide another nice piece of depth that will not only contend for a starting spot on a weekly basis but push a player like Ulloa to be better as well.
Perhaps the best part of Bekker's season to evaluate is an eight-game stretch in early April to early June during which he started every game with Toronto going 4-3-1 in their best eight-game stretch of their beleagured 2014 campaign. In those eight games, Bekker was, according to Squawka, the highest rated player on the TFC roster earning the highest marks in possession as well as showing strongly defensively(see graphic below). It's a small sample size, for sure, but it certainly suggests that the Canadian is no slouch in the center of the park.
He found playing time difficult to find in the second half of the season as Toronto FC nose-dived to the finish winning just two of their last 13 games in a stretch that saw Ryan Nelsen replaced at manager by Greg Vanney. With a new coach and new ideas came the trade of a player that never quite seemed to fit into TFC's plans despite obvious talent.
According to Squawka, Bekker finished the season with a passing accuracy of 83% of which 79% were forward passes which compares to 85% passing accuracy of Victor Ulloa of which 80% were forward passes so those numbers obviously match up well also.
Just 24 years old and with two years of MLS under his belt, Bekker is a very low risk and high upside acquisition for FC Dallas that gives more depth in the midfield and another player that could flourish under the tutilage of head coach Oscar Pareja.
FRISCO - The 2015 MLS SuperDraft is just a couple days away and one of the most exciting things about the draft is you never know what can happen.
Last year, we saw FC Dallas trade from the #5 pick down to the #10 pick and then back up to #6 all in a whirlwind ten-minute span with the club ending up with their target, future Rookie of the Year winner Tesho Akindele, plus some allocation money to boot.
Who knows what will happen this year as FCD currently holds the #15 overall pick, though that could certainly change depending on trades and everything else. Let's take a look at the possible scenarios that could play out on Thursday at 11:30AM.
FC Dallas trades up, snags a top pick
When you look back historically at the draft - especially in the last few years with Homegrown signings taking some of the better players out - you have a pretty good success rate in the first 10 picks. Typically seven or eight of the first 10 picks work out to be solid MLS players. While FC Dallas currently sits outside that threshold, it may not take a whole lot to move up.
With just five Generation adidas players this year (GA players not counting against the salary cap), it's going to take a high draft pick to snag one of those coveted underclassmen. Oscar Pareja had plenty of success in the past in drafting Jamaican forward Deshorn Brown, so maybe another one in UCF forward Romario Williams could be in the cards. If Pareja and Fernando Clavijo really want to go big, NYCFC's #2 overall pick has been rumored to be on the trading block and attacking midfielder Cristian Roldan out of Washington has been described as a special player by many.
"There has to be a bunch of little things that gel together and it’s difficult to define each of them, but when I see players and especially the guys in the draft I look for players who I can smell [success] and see them fitting into the culture of the club first."
That's what Oscar Pareja had to say about his draft strategy. He lets his assistants do much of the legwork to vet potential draft picks and he then sees who fits in the best. You get the feeling that if there's someone he really likes, he's going to do what he needs to get him and I think we can all agree if there's someone that Pareja likes, then he's someone we'll all like.
Dallas stands pat, goes for someone at #15
With the arrival of Pareja just days earlier and a high draft pick, the 2014 draft was one of the more exciting ones for FC Dallas in recent history. It's very possible we won't see the same fireworks in 2015 and FC Dallas may stick with their one pick and go for whichever guy fits in best.
While the success rate for the #15 pick certainly isn't what it is for earlier picks, there have been plenty of good players found at or after #15 with solid MLS'ers Dom Dwyer, Justin Meram and Collen Warner going in the last few picks of the first round since 2010. FC Dallas drafted George John at #14 overall in 2009 and he certainly turned out to be a great player, so there's plenty of reason to be optimistic with #15.
Dallas trades their pick, exits the room quietly
FCD currently has just one pick for Thursday's SuperDraft as the club's second round pick was traded to Houston in exchange for Je-Vaughn Watson in early 2013. So if Oscar and the staff decide there aren't any attainable players that meet their standards, we could see Dallas trade the pick for some allocation money, future picks, another player or international slots.
As mentioned, without a second round pick, that would likely mean Dallas would walk away from Philadelphia without any new players and, given the already young nature of the team, it wouldn't be a huge surprise.
If you were in Oscar or Fernando's shoes what would you do in this situation?
2015 FC Dallas schedule desktop wallpapers:
It's the moment every FC Dallas fan has been waiting for and the moment when the 2015 season starts to come into focus. The 2015 FC Dallas schedule is out and it's definitely got some interesting notes to it so let's break things down:
Home sweet home
Just like last year, FC Dallas opens with five of the first seven at Toyota Stadium. Obviously things can change a lot in an offseason, but five of FCD's first seven are also against teams that missed the playoffs last year, so Oscar Pareja's side will definitely be looking to get out of the blocks quickly.
Early season matchups against Kansas City, now of the Western Conference, and 2014 MLS Cup Playoff foe Seattle Sounders FC will both be home games that fans will certainly circle on the calendar as can't-miss games.
Friday, I'm in love
Perhaps the most noticeable change in the 2015 schedule is the introduction of the weekly Friday night game. Last year FCD had just one Friday night game, but this year there are weekly Friday night games to be broadcast nationally on the Univision family of networks and FC Dallas is a major player in these.
Eight of the first 17 games in 2015 will be played on Friday nights with six of those coming on the road. Personally, I'm looking forward to a little Friday happy hour away game action.
We knew it was coming, but it's still great to see both Kansas City and Houston back on the schedule three times each year. The Texas Derby, presented by Novo Nordisk, will no doubt be spiced up by the return of three games against our rivals to the south each season. While our series with Kansas City may not have quite the same grit to it, our fans are surely looking forward to having more games against a team that is within driving distance.
NYC comes to town
For the second-straight year, the New York Red Bulls will visit Toyota Stadium on Friday, May 15 while new MLS side NYC FC comes to Frisco on Saturday, September 12. Yes, NYCFC will visit late in the season meaning Frank Lampard could be making a stop here...maybe. We'll see.
So which road trips are you making in 2015? We're exactly two months away from First Kick!
FC Dallas added another piece to the 2015 roster on Thursday, acquiring former San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Atiba Harris in phase two of the 2014 MLS Re-Entry Draft.
Harris will be a very familiar name to long-time FC Dallas fans as he played 41 matches from 2009-2010 for the club, scoring six goals while adding an assist and appearing in three matches on the 2010 MLS Cup run.
Harris, who turns 30 on January 9, scored four goals in 2014 for San Jose to finish second on their goal-scoring charts behind Chris Wondolowski. The veteran midfielder has appeared in 191 MLS games during his nine-year MLS career, scoring 26 goals and 22 assists.
FCD and Harris will have to agree to a contract before he can be officially added to the roster, as players selected in phase two of the Re-Entry Draft have not had their 2015 contract options guaranteed.
None of the three FC Dallas players eligible (Jair Benitez, Adam Moffat and Hendry Thomas) were chosen and will now become free agents.
It's a great feeling to know that @FCDallas have selecting me in the re-entry draft. What a great club. Maybe some unfinished business???
— Atiba Harris (@AtibaHarris) December 18, 2014
Anyone going through draft withdrawls? It's been almost a week since we had one.
Well fear not because at 2:00PM today the MLS Re-Entry Draft phase two takes place and this one has usually seen pretty decent movement.
More than three times as many players have been picked in phase two(43) of the draft historically than phase one(14), because you are allowed to negotiate a contract with the player you picked rather than having to guarantee the 2015 option.
In 2012, FCD acquired defender Stephen Keel through this mechanism, so there is certainly a chance Dallas could add a player at today's draft.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter to get the quickest Re-Entry Draft updates.
Here is the list of available players:
Patrick Ianni (Chicago Fire)
Hunter Jumper (Chicago Fire)
Steven Kinney (Chicago Fire)
Sanna Nyassi (Chicago Fire)
Gonzalo Segares (Chicago Fire)
Bakary Soumare (Chicago Fire)
Carlos Borja (Chivas USA)
Marvin Chavez (Chivas USA)***
Oswaldo Minda (Chivas USA)
Martin Rivero (Chivas USA)
Nathan Sturgis (Chivas USA)
Daniel Paladini (Columbus Crew SC)
David Armstrong (Colorado Rapids)
Edson Buddle (Colorado Rapids)
Kamani Hill (Colorado Rapids)
Dimitry Imbongo (Colorado Rapids)
Brian Mullan (Colorado Rapids) OPTED OUT
Marvell Wynne (Colorado Rapids)
Jair Benitez (FC Dallas)
Adam Moffat (FC Dallas)
Hendry Thomas (FC Dallas)
Nana Attakora (DC United)
Alex Caskey (DC United)
Jeff Parke (DC United)
Conor Shanosky (DC United)
Omar Cummings (Houston Dynamo)
Brian Ownby (Houston Dynamo)
Rafael Garcia (LA Galaxy)
Chandler Hoffman (LA Galaxy)
Brian Perk (LA Galaxy)
James Riley (LA Galaxy)
Mamadou "Futty" Danso (Montreal Impact) ***
Matteo Ferrari (Montreal Impact)
Troy Perkins (Montreal Impact) ***
Andre Akpan (New England Revolution)
Shalrie Joseph (New England Revolution)
Stephen McCarthy (New England Revolution) ***
Bobby Convey (New York Red Bulls)
Kosuke Kimura (New York Red Bulls)
Corben Bone (Philadelphia Union)
Fred (Philadelphia Union) ***
Brian Carroll (Philadelphia Union) ***
Kalif Alhassan (Portland Timbers)
Rauwshan McKenzie (Portland Timbers) ***
Danny O'Rourke (Portland Timbers) ***
Rich Balchan (Real Salt Lake)
Aaron Maund (Real Salt Lake) OPTED OUT
Tristan Bowen (Seattle Sounders)
Josh Ford (Seattle Sounders)
Marcus Hahnemann (Seattle Sounders)
Jon Busch (San Jose Earthquakes) ***
Atiba Harris (San Jose Earthquakes) ***
Josh Gardner (Sporting Kansas City)
Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto FC)
Jeremy Hall (Toronto FC)
Ryan Richter (Toronto FC)
Andrew Wiedeman (Toronto FC)
EDIT: Listen LIVE to the Expansion Draft at 1:00PM Central Time in the handy YouTube link above
Who's ready for the second draft of the 2014 offseason?!
On Wednesday, 2015 debutants Orlando City SC & NYCFC will go a long way to forming the spines of their teams with the always-dreaded Expansion Draft.
We're going to break it down here on FCDallas.com so hopefully you can understand why FCD might lose a player or two to the new expansion sides on Wednesday.
First, the basics of the draft:
The Expansion Draft will take place on Wednesday, December 10th at 1:00PM Central and there will be ten rounds of selections by OCSC & NYCFC meaning 20 players overall will be drafted onto the new expansion teams.
- Only two players from each team may be drafted
- Teams may protect one extra player when one of their players is drafted
- Teams will receive allocation money from the league for each player picked
Who is eligible to be selected?
OCSC & NYCFC can't just go around all willy-nilly adding whoever they want from other teams, there are selected lists from each team that the expansion teams can choose from.
- Teams are allowed to protect 11 players
- All of FCD's Homegrown players & Walker Zimmerman(Generation adidas) are exempt and also protected
- Get a full list of who is protected and who is available for selection here
Has this happened in the past?
Yes, with all of the recent expansion into MLS, teams like Portland, Vancouver, Montreal and Philadelphia have formed their teams through the Expansion Draft.
- In 2009, FCD did not lose a player in the Philadelphia Union expansion draft. The Union signed names like Sebastien Le Toux & Andrew Jacobson
- In 2010, FCD was hit hard by the Expansion Draft right after their MLS Cup appearance losing Dax McCarty to Portland(who was then traded to DC) and Atiba Harris to Vancouver
- In 2011, FCD did not have a player selected by Montreal
So as you can see, things get tricky when you have two teams selecting instead of just one
Could FC Dallas lose a player or two?
It's always difficult to pick 11 players to protect, but FC Dallas is actually in just about the best position of any team in MLS with 19 players exempt from the draft, second-most only behind Montreal(who has a lot of very young HG players).
- There are three players exposed in this draft who are under contract for 2015 that either had already existing deals or had their player options exercised
- Those players are Stephen Keel, Brian Span and David Texeira
- Others exposed who played significant minutes in 2014 include Raul Fernandez, Andres Escobar and Hendry Thomas though all three did not have their 2015 contract options exercised
- Technical Director Fernando Clavijo told us in a recent interview "I feel very comfortable" about things.
We're back for part two of our 2014 FCDallas.com Editorial Awards!
Click here to read the first half and see who your esteemed panelists are.
Let's get down to business
Best Attacking Player
AG: Fabian Castillo - I don’t have enough fingers on my hands to count how many times he has beaten a defender.
OB: Fabian Castillo – The guy gave my camera shutter a run for it’s money. Even with all the settings correct, Fabian showed up as a blur of speed and energy in photos. His attacking prowess and explosiveness was too good to stop. No defender – or camera – stood a chance.
DR: Blas Perez - What else can you say about Blas? My nomination of Blas for this award is something of a lifetime achievement award for the man known as Super Raton. Through three years at FC Dallas, Blas has basically averaged a goal every other game and in 2014 he led the team in both goals and assists in MLS play. Blas turned provider this year a bit more with a career-high six assists and he finished the regular season strong with five goals in his last six games. He's about as pure a #9-style forward as we've ever seen around here.
RC: Fabian Castillo - What more can be said about the Colombian connection between Castillo and Oscar Pareja? With Pareja back as head coach Castillo shined as a winger tallying 10 goals and four assists in MLS play including a scorching summer run where he scored or assisted in 10 straight games including Lamar Hunt US Open Cup matches. Remember that counter attack goal at San Jose? Yum.
SB: Blas Perez – I was initially leaning towards Fabian for this one too, but Blas’ numbers speak for themselves. The veteran striker put up one more goal and two more assists than Castillo in 200 fewer minutes played. The future may belong to Castillo, but Perez retains the crown for now.
OB: Zach Loyd – Zach was such a thieving jerk this year. Between the scoring opportunities he took away and the balls he stole from the feet of attackers, the guy has a lot of ‘splaining to do. Only evidence left at the scene was blood, sweat and genuine hard work. File a report, FCD opponents, your offense is missing.
RC: Zach Loyd - While Matt Hedges is Team MVP, Zach Loyd is a close second and quite deserving of this award. After beginning the season at his usual right back, Loyd moved to center back without hesitation and filled in admirably alongside Hedges. His athleticism is often some of the best on the field and his speed allows him to run with forwards before poking the ball away. Hedges certainly deserves a USMNT call-up, but doesn’t Zach Loyd?
AG: Zach Loyd – This guy can play any position like no other.
SB: Matt Hedges – Hedges was the one constant on an FC Dallas backline that was constantly rotating in 2014. He’s strong, dependable, clutch – all the adjectives you want out of a center back. Again, expect him to go camping in a couple months.
DR: Matt Hedges - Nevermind best FC Dallas defender, he should be in the final three for MLS Defender of the Year.
RC: Fabian Castillo - See above. Far and away the most improved player in 2014.
SB: Fabian Castillo – This is another one that could go a couple different ways. Victor Ulloa and Moises Hernandez both have strong cases in this category, but I’m gonna fall back on the numbers again. Fabian went from two goals scored in 2013 to 10 (!) in 2014; that’s a pretty considerable jump in production. The scary thing is, you get the sense he’s still capable of more. He may very well be contending for this award next year, too.
DR: Victor Ulloa - My colleagues make some fine arguments, but considering there are many who likely wouldn't have batted much of an eye if Ulloa wasn't brought back in 2014 to now being one of the most important players on the field, I'd say that's a pretty huge improvement. Compared to where he was in that first game against Portland in early 2014, Ulloa is now imposing his will on the games and had perhaps his two best games of the season in the playoff games against Seattle. Bonus points for getting in Dempsey's face at CenturyLink Field puts him over the top.
OB: Zach Loyd – see above.
AG: Chris Seitz – Did you see that playoff game in Seattle?
2015 FC Dallas MVP
RC: Mauro Diaz - We saw what a healthy Mauro Diaz can do when he won Etihad Player of the Month in March. Can you imagine the damage he’ll do if healthy for a full season?
AG: Tesho Akindele – 8 goals his rookie season, I have a good feeling that he is going to bring the heat in 2015.
SB: Mauro Diaz – I know, I know… not exactly out on a limb on this one. Mauro showed us what he’s capable when he was named Player of the Month in March, but that was before he got hurt. If he can manage to stay healthy for the majority of 2015, he’ll probably have a couple more Player of the Month awards coming his way.
DR: Matt Hedges - Because it's still a couple years too early for Coy Craft or Kellyn Acosta, I've got to stick with the incumbent and vote Matty Hedges again in 2015. There's absolutely no reason to think he can't take the next step. A January USMNT camp call-up should lead to a CONCACAF Gold Cup appearance this summer if Hedges plays to the level he's capable of and after that the sky is the limit. Honorable mention to Tesho Akindele for this one.
OB: Mauro Diaz – After half a season in 2013 as David Ferreira’s understudy and a promising 2014, 2015 is the year Mauro Diaz wipes the floor with opposing holding midfielders and defenders of MLS. Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gents, it’s shake ’n bake time.