FC Dallas takes another big step towards March 7th this weekend as they compete in the ATX Pro Soccer Challenge. The four-team tournament has three MLS teams plus USL's Austin Aztex and FC Dallas will kick things off at 5:45PM against Columbus Crew SC. Here's a few things to keep your eye on this weekend:
Full squad together
With Matt Hedges back from national team camp, pretty much the full roster for FC Dallas should be in Austin and you will likely see a mostly first team lineup on Friday night. Oscar Pareja said earlier this week that he's looking to get the starters at least 60 minutes and with three weeks under the belt in preseason, it's time to stretch those legs a little bit.
We're all excited to see what Mauro Diaz can do this season and these games will be a fantastic barometer to see how Mauro looks in preseason. The little magician burst out of the gates last year winning MLS Etihad Player of the Month in March and everyone knows if Mauro can stay healthy through a full season, a potential MLS Best XI nomination is on the cards. When Mauro plays, you've got to watch.
Atiba Harris in defense
Last season, Oscar Pareja had a brilliant stroke moving Je-Vaughn Watson to right back with incredible results and he's been experimenting with that again this preseason with Atiba Harris. It's, no doubt, a work in progress, but if Harris, who loves to attack down the right wing and scored the only goal of the preseason so far for FC Dallas, can adapt to the position it could provide huge benefits for FC Dallas.
Next Friday night, February 20th at Toyota Stadium we have a friendly against DC United in the penultimate preseason tuneup for FC Dallas before the season starts on March 7th.
Now for our regular season MLS games, there are regulations in place for just about everything you can think of from sponsors to game presentation to the way the field is mowed....but those don't count for preseason friendlies so we thought we'd have a fun vote to determine which field pattern we will have for the beautiful Toyota Stadium pitch next Friday night.
Below are the four options we can have for Friday night's game. Allen Reed and his groundscrew team need a few days to fully mow in the pattern, so get your vote in before Monday then come out to Toyota Stadium and come back next Friday to see which option won!
Tickets are still available for next Friday's friendly which is complementary for season ticket holders, $10 for general admission & $25 for reserved seating.
Option 1 - Bullseye
Option 2 - Traditional
Option 3 - Checkerboard
Option 4 - Plaid
(Hana Asano/LA Galaxy)
In front of more than 20,000 at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA, the US Men's National Team won their first game of 2015 defeating Panama 2-0.
For FC Dallas fans, there was plenty of excitement as forward Blas Perez started, making his 87th appearance in a national team jersey. He went 56 minutes in Sunday's match, playing a typically active game that you see from Perez.
In the second half, a long-awaited moment happened as FC Dallas captain and defender Matt Hedges was brought on in the 72nd minute to make his first national team appearance at any level from youth to senior.
Jon Arnold of Goal.com talked to Matt after the match with Hedges saying “It was really exciting. [Klinsmann[ told us to go warm up and I knew I was going to be getting in. I was buzzing, I was ready.”
The next match for the USMNT is March 25 against Denmark in Aarhus, Denmark while Hedges and Perez now return back to FC Dallas as the full squad is set to head to Austin next weekend for the ATX Pro Soccer Challenge.
FC Dallas completed their week at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida with a 1-1 draw against Swedish second division side Jönköpings Södra IF.
Atiba Harris opened the scoring with FCD's first goal of the preseason with just over ten minutes left in the first half with the Swedish side equalizing just minutes later to send the match into halftime tied 1-1.
Neither side could find a goal in the second half as substitutions were made with the game ending in a 1-1 draw.
FC Dallas will play the rest of their 2015 preseason slate at home in the state of Texas with the next matches scheduled for next weekend in Austin as part of the ATX Pro Soccer Challenge.
FC Dallas will face Columbus Crew SC in a semifinal on Friday afternoon at 5:30PM and either play in the third place or championship match on Sunday afternoon.
FC Dallas lineup: Seitz, Harris(Rosales, Zimmerman, Loyd(Saco-Vertiz), Hernandez, Ulloa(Hoilett), Michel, Diaz(Chavez), Castillo(Hollingshead), Akindele(Toja), Texeira(Bekker)
FC Dallas plays their final preseason game outside the state of Texas on Saturday when they take on Swedish second division side Jönköpings Södra IF at the IMG Academy Stadium in Bradenton, FL. FCD will be looking to rebound after their 4-0 preseason-opening loss to Orlando City on Wednesday in a match that saw mostly trialists and reserves get a run out.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on in Saturday night's game which kicks off at 6:00PM(it's unlikely the match will be streamed, but we will let you know for sure on social media closer to game time).
While only a few of the contributors from 2014 saw time against Orlando City SC on Wednesday, Oscar Pareja told Steve Hunt of the Dallas Morning News that first team regulars will be featuring in Saturday's game.
With this being the only match before next week's ATX Pro Soccer Challenge, it's important to get those guys some minutes and for many, this game on Saturday will be their first minutes of 2015 against non-FCD players.
Look out for guys like Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo to have their first minutes of the year and for FCD to be much more competitive in this one.
The youngest player
16-year-old Homegrown midfielder Alex Zendejas who is currently in residency with the US U-17 National Team has had the opportunity to train with FC Dallas this week in Bradenton and by all reports he has impressed.
Alex turns 17 on Saturday and he could be given another opportunity to get some minutes on Saturday night. Alex and the US U-17s begin World Cup qualifying at the end of February in Honduras.
A little bit on the opponents
Saturday's opponents Jönköpings Södra IF, are nearly 100 years old and have spent the last nine years in the Swedish second division.
That's about all I got.
In celebration of our 20th season in MLS, FCDTV will be posting classic highlights every week of our guys taking on that weekend's opponent.
We don't play Columbus until next weekend in Austin so to kick things off we're posting a special Throwback Thursday looking back at our June 25, 2005 3-1 win over Colorado featuring a game-winning goal from a bandaged up Bobby Rhine. FC Dallas Academy coach Luchi Gonzalez also adds a stunning strike.
The 2015 preseason schedule had a harsh opening on Wednesday as FC Dallas fell 4-0 to Orlando City SC in Orlando.
Tony Cascio opened the scoring for the home team in the 13th minute and Kevin Molino doubled the Lions' lead in the 20th minute. Brazilian DP Kaka, making his first appearance for Orlando City, added a goal of his own in the 33rd minute finishing a PK drawn by Martin Paterson. The hosts rounded out the scoring in the 64th minute with a Danny Mwanga goal that sealed the 4-0 scoreline.
Today's FC Dallas team left a number of first team players back in Bradenton at the IMG Academy with the squad mostly comprised of young players and trialists against what was basically a first choice XI for Adrian Heath and Orlando City.
Here's what Oscar had to say about the match:
The purpose in this stage of the preseason is to take a look at the young players to see what they have and what they bring here and you have to go through games like today where it’s hard for them but it’s a good exercise for the players that are here because we need to move and see what the reality of our team and what’s next.
FCD is back in action on Saturday night at the IMG Academy in Bradenton against Swedish second division side Jonkopings Sodra.
FCD first half lineup: Kennedy, Harris, Zimmerman, Saco-Vertiz(g), Hernandez, Bekker, Ulloa(C), Toja, Garcia, Hollingshead, Hoilett
FCD bench: Gonzalez, Marvin Chavez(G), Aaron Meyer(A), Damien Rosales(G), Long Tan(G), Earle, Will Seymore, Texeira, Straccia(G), Camacho(G), Zendejas
*A = Academy | G = Guest player/Trialist
OCSC first half lineup: Ricketts, Boden, Collin, Donovan, Ramos, Molino, Higuita, Kaka, Cascio, Okugo, Paterson
OCSC second half lineup: Edwards, Turner, Gustavo, Redding, trialist, Estrela, Cerén, Heath, Ribeiro, Barrett, Larin
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 FC Dallas U-18 Academy is down in Guadalajara this week playing in the prestigious Copa Chivas against some of the best teams from Mexico and around the world. FC Dallas has been placed in a group with Chivas Guadalajara and Atlas from Liga MX as well as Urawa Red Diamonds from Japan and Atletico Paranaese from Brazil and matches are 70 minutes long.
The FCD travel roster is a mix of U-18 and U-16 players with many of them having experience from last year's tournament. Here is the full roster:
Santiago Agudelo, Joel Avilez, Ryan Barlow, Reggie Cannon, Eric Davies, Irvin Domingues, Charlie Furrer, Matt Karasinski, Alejandro Martinez, Weston McKinnie, Giovanni Montesdeoca, Eddie Munjoma, Phillip Ponder, Christian Ramirez, Oscar Romero, Jose Livano Salas, Martin Salas, Devin Vega
FCD U-18s draw first match vs Urawa Red Diamonds
In the first match, the U-18s took on Urawa Red Diamonds of the J. League playing to an exciting 2-2 draw. Santiago Agudelo opened the scoring for FC Dallas with a close-range effort in the 21st minute.
FCD would take a 2-0 lead into halftime as Eric Davies scored off a corner kick to double the lead.
The Japanese side finally broke through in the 62nd minute as Mizuki Arai scored his first goal and then in the 68th minute Urawa was awarded a penalty kick that they scored to tie the match.
FC Dallas lineup: 22 Charlie Furrer, 2 Eric Davies, 3 Phillip Ponder, 4 Ryan Barlow, 12 Óscar Romero, 44 Devin Vega, 13 Irving Dominguez, 15 José Salas, 21 Martín Salas, 30 Santiago Agudelo, 9 Christian Ramírez.
FCD U-18s play to a scoreless draw with Liga MX's Atlas
The second match saw FCD take on at Atlas side that won their first two matches and FCD played them to a 0-0 draw in a rainy Guadalajara.
Giovanni Montesdeoca had the best chance of the match for FCD in the first half and the valuable point keeps FCD alive in their quest to make the quarterfinals.
FC Dallas lineup: 22 Charlie Furrer, 2 Eric Davies, 3 Phillip Ponder, 4 Ryan Barlow, 12 Óscar Romero, 33Reggie Cannon, 17 Alejandro Martínez, 15 José Salas, 21 Martín Salas, 23 Joel Avilez, 42 Giovani Montesdeoca.
Through two matches, FCD sits in fourth with 2 points with Atletico Paranaense and Chivas Guadalajara a point ahead of them.
The top two teams from each group plus the two highest ranked third place teams will make the quarterfinals.
FC Dallas plays Chivas Guadalajara at noon on Monday in a match that will be streamed live (WATCH HERE). A win for FCD would put them in with a great chance at advancing to the quarterfinals.
One of the really fun aspects of the 2015 schedule is that LA Galaxy comes to town twice this year. We've already talked about how there is guaranteed drama whenever FC Dallas and the LA Galaxy meet so let's not beat around the bush.
This game is going to be known as the "Gerrard" game.
The Liverpool legend is set to join Los Angeles after the EPL season is over and assuming he takes a few weeks off before linking up with the Galaxy, his trip to Toyota Stadium will be one of the first road games for the scouse superstar.
It's going to be absolutely fascinating to see how Gerrard adapts to life in MLS and there's no better way to introduce Stevie G to how we do things in Texas than a steamy summer Saturday night at Toyota Stadium.
You know this one is going to be sold out and it's going to be a huge game in the standings, so no reason to wait and get your tickets.