MLS Regular Season
The players have returned for preseason and the 20th season of FC Dallas soccer is starting to come into focus.
Today, we've released single-game tickets for seven of the biggest games of the season, our 2015 premier matches. Throughout this week we're going to be highlighting each one on FCDallas.com as we celebrate "Marquee Matchups," taking a look towards the 2015 season. Stay tuned each day this week as we highlight one of the seven biggest games coming to Toyota Stadium in 2015.
Marquee Matchups Game One - March 7 vs. San Jose Earthquakes
No matter what sport you're watching, there's nothing like opening day.
Every team is 0-0-0 with championship aspirations and whether you're looking to improve on last season and show that you mean business or simply looking to prove that the previous season was no fluke, the first game of the year is always one you don't want to miss as a fan. There's just something special about that first time you walk through the stadium gates for a new season, getting your first glimpse at the new players while also seeing those familiar faces back on the field for another year.
There's all the new signage around the stadium, the new banners outside(which will be awesome) and that first look at the new pump up videos. On March 7 at 7:30PM, it all gets started again, and let's face it: You're not missing this one.
For FC Dallas, the 2015 season marks the eighth-straight year that FCD will open the season at Toyota Stadium with the team going 3-1-3 in that stretch, having won their last three home openers.
Who can forget last year's season opener in which Oscar Pareja returned to the place he calls home to see Mauro Diaz produce his first of many master-class performances, scoring a brilliant game-winning free kick early in the second half to seal a 3-2 win over Montreal. It would be the first stanza of Mauro's brilliant March that saw him win Etihad Player of the Month while propelling Dallas to a 4-0-1 start to the season.
It's opening night. It gives me chills every time. It's going to be a huge crowd coming off last year's playoff drama. You don't want to miss this one.
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.
Say hello to NATIVO.
Today, just a day after the 2014 MLS season ended, the league, in partnership with adidas, has unveiled the 2015 MLS Match Ball.
Emblazoned with the new MLS logo plus nods to both the United States and Canada, NATIVO will be kicked around at all MLS games next year and uses the same material and technology as the famed "Brazuca" ball used at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
FC Dallas played Seattle Sounders FC to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals at Toyota Stadium Sunday night. Goalkeeper Raul Fernandez made seven saves in the match and FC Dallas took the lead from the penalty spot in the first half. Andres Escobar was taken down in the penalty box by Seattle midfielder Marco Pappa and Michel converted the PK in the 34th minute.
First Half Highlights
Seattle managed to tie things up midway through the second half when Osvaldo Alonso just barely got his head to a free kick by Pappa in the 64th minute and redirected it past Fernandez. Fabian Castillo nearly got the go-ahead goal late on if not for an exceptional save by Stefan Frei to keep things level.
Second Half Highlights
FC Dallas dropped a 2-0 result to the Portland Timbers in the regular season finale at Toyota Stadium on Saturday night. Portland took a 1-0 lead in the first half on a goal by Darlington Nagbe.
First Half Higlights
The second half featured two disallowed goals for FC Dallas. The Timbers eventually iced the game with a Maximiliano Urruti goal in the 82nd minute.
Second Half Highlights
Hear from Pareja, Loyd & Ulloa on #FCDvPOR with FCDTV's Quick Kicks:
Here are the best pictures from Saturday's win over Colorado:
Saturday's win at Colorado coupled with Real Salt Lake's draw at Portland has made the playoff picture pretty clear for FC Dallas with one week left to go in the season. Let's talk about it:
FC Dallas will finish third in the Western Conference if:
-Real Salt Lake loses or draws against Chivas USA on Wednesday night
-FC Dallas defeats Portland Timbers FC on Saturday night
If FC Dallas finishes third, our Western Conference semifinal playoff schedule will be:
WC Semifinal 1st leg - LA Galaxy/Seattle Sounders FC at FC Dallas - Saturday, November 1 or Sunday, November 2 Toyota Stadium
WC Semifinal 2nd leg - FC Dallas at LA Galaxy - 8:00PM - Sunday, November 9 StubHub Center
2nd leg - FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders FC - 9:30PM Monday, November 10 CenturyLink Field
FC Dallas will finish fourth in the Western Conference if:
-Real Salt Lake defeats Chivas USA on Wednesday night
-FC Dallas draws or loses to Portland Timbers FC on Saturday night
If FC Dallas finishes fourth, our Western Conference playoff schedule will be:
Wild Card Round - Vancouver Whitecaps/Portland Timbers at FC Dallas - 7:30PM Wednesday, October 29 Toyota Stadium
If FCD wins the Wild Card Round, our WC Semifinal schedule would be:
WC Semifinal 1st leg - LA Galaxy/Seattle Sounders FC at FC Dallas - Saturday, November 1 or Sunday, November 2nd
WC Semifinal 2nd leg - FC Dallas at LA Galaxy - 8:00PM - Sunday, November 9 Toyota Stadium
WC Semifinal 2nd leg - FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders FC - 9:30PM Monday, November 10 CenturyLink Field
For those not familiar with the MLS Cup playoff format, the top five teams in each conference make the playoffs.
Fourth place hosts fifth place in a one-game wild card playoff with the winner playing the top seed in a two-leg semifinal while second will play third also in a two-leg playoff. The two-leg playoff rounds will feature home games at both stadiums and whoever has the highest combined score will advance. The lower seed will host the first game while the higher seed will host the second match.
The winners of the semifinals will play each other in a two-leg conference final and the winners of the conference finals will play in the one-game MLS Cup played at the home of the remaining team with the most points earned in the regular season.
Not a ton of highlights in this one, but there's only one that matters. Here are your #COLvFCD match highlights:
Just two weekends remain in the MLS regular season. Can you believe it? FC Dallas clinched the playoffs with last week's heart-stopping win over Los Angeles and now they turn their sights to earning the #3 seed which would ensure not having to play in the 4th vs 5th wild card game. Here's the playoff breakdown:
1. Seattle Sounders FC
60 points(+13 GD) - 2 games remaining - Last match: 1-0 loss vs Vancouver - Next match: 10/19 at Los Angeles - Last 5: L-W-W-L-L
The Sounders surprisingly fell to Vancouver at home, a result that puts their Supporters Shield aspirations very much in doubt. They end the season with back-to-back games against LA and will clinch the Shield with a win in either match.
2. LA Galaxy
60 points(+34 GD) - 2 games remaining - Last match: 2-1 loss at FC Dallas - Next match: 10/19 vs Seattle - Last 5: L-W-W-W-D
The Galaxy lost their first game of the season after scoring first in a 2-1 loss at FCD on Sunday. It was really a missed opportunity with Seattle having lost earlier in the weekend. They'll host the Sounders on Sunday and need four points from their two games against Seattle to clinch the Shield.
3. Real Salt Lake
52 points(+13 GD) - 2 games remaining - Last match: 2-0 win vs San Jose - Next match: 10/17 at Portland - Last 5: W-L-L-W-L
Jeff Cassar's side stopped a slide with a much-needed win against San Jose at home on Saturday. They've got a tricky test at Portland on Friday night and need a win to keep off hard-charging FCD and stay in control of their own destiny in the race for the third seed.
4. FC Dallas
51 points(+11 GD) - 2 games remaining - Last match: 2-1 win vs LA Galaxy - Next match: 10/18 at Colorado - Last 5: W-L-W-L-W
FC Dallas got a huge win against Los Angeles that took a ton of pressure off Oscar Pareja's side. They need one point to clinch a home playoff game and could leapfrog RSL for the third spot, though they'll need to ensure three points against a Colorado team that hasn't won since July. **NOTE** The first tiebreaker is wins and FC Dallas currently has one more than RSL with 15, so a tie in the standings would see FCD jump RSL.
5. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
46 points(+1 GD) - 2 games remaining - Last match: 1-0 win at Seattle - Next match: 10/18 at San Jose - Last 5: W-W-W-L-L
The Whitecaps scored another hugely impressive result winning at Seattle last weekend to stay above Portland for the final playoff spot. The Whitecaps have their toughest test left on Saturday with a tricky trip to San Jose. Two wins from their final two will ensure a playoff spot for Carl Robinson's side.
6. Portland Timbers FC
45 points(+4 GD) - 3 games remaining - Last match: 3-0 win vs San Jose - Next match: 10/17 vs Real Salt Lake - Last 5: W-W-L-W-D
Caleb Porter's men easily dispatched San Jose 3-0 to keep pace with Vancouver for the final playoff spot. They have a tough test against RSL on Friday before finishing the season at FC Dallas. Things look pretty difficult for the Timbers when you compare schedules between the two sides but Porter's side has shown amazing resiliency.
FCD PLAYOFF SCENARIOS:
FC Dallas will clinch a home playoff game if:
-Vancouver fails to defeat San Jose
-FC Dallas wins or draws at Colorado
IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY:
If there were no games left and we were looking forward to the start of the playoffs, here are the current matchups:
WILD CARD GAME
Vancouver Whitecaps FC at FC Dallas
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
Seattle Sounders FC vs FC Dallas/Vancouver Whitecaps FC
LA Galaxy vs Real Salt Lake