FC Dallas looks to go 2-0 on Saturday night when they host Sporting Kansas City at Toyota Stadium. Get ready for kickoff with our Keys to the Match presented by Toyota. Unfortunately, the FINAL Keys to the Match for Scott Brown as he rides off into the sunset.
The season is back! FCD kicks things off on Saturday night against San Jose and we've got you covered with FCDTV's Keys to the Match driven by Toyota
We've finally reached the final preseason game of 2015 as we sit just a week away from the huge season opener at Toyota Stadium against San Jose on March 7th!
There's still one more important matter, however, as FC Dallas looks to take down the reigning NASL Champions in the second-straight year the teams meet up in the final preseason match.
FC Dallas is 2-2-1 in five preseason matches with last Friday's 3-1 win over DC United still fresh in everyone's mind. Here are three things to watch for on Saturday night and be sure to head to FCDallas.com tomorrow night at 7:00PM to catch all the action from San Antonio.
Barrios' first game
One of the really interesting aspects to Saturday's friendly will be a first chance to see new signing Michael Barrios in his first action with FCD. The speedy winger joined the team for his first practices this week and Oscar Pareja has said he expects him to play a part in Saturday's game.
The duo of Michael Barrios and Fabian Castillo would surely be the fastest pair of wingers in the league and we could see that speed unleashed for the first time on Saturday night.
Loyd back in the mix
Zach Loyd and Matt Hedges provided one of the best center back combinations in the league through the second half of the 2014 season, but the pair hasn't had a lot of time to work together in the 2015 preseason as Loyd has had to sit much of it out with a minor injury. Zach was back in training this week and could end up playing a part in Saturday's game. It's certainly something to watch as significant minutes for Loyd would certainly suggest he's 100% to go for next Saturday's season opener.
The battle for Texas
Last season, FC Dallas locked down the hypothetical Texas championship belt defeating the Houston Dynamo in MLS and LHUSOC play while drawing San Antonio in preseason and also defeating them in LHUSOC play. While Dallas didn't get a chance to play Austin Aztex in the preseason tournament, Saturday's game is a chance to win yet another game against Texan opposition. Which is always important. #KingsOfTexas
The season is nearly upon us and Friday night at Toyota Stadium, you'll get your first chance to see FC Dallas live and in person as we face DC United in the penultimate preseason match before things get started in full against San Jose. The match kicks off at 7:30PM and general admission tickets are just $10 and available right here.
Here are a few things to watch for in Friday's preseason match:
At this point, head coach Oscar Pareja is probably very close to set on his opening day lineup and Friday's match will give us a huge clue as to which 11 players will be suiting up on March seventh. In Austin, Pareja played a basically full strength lineup for the first hour of the match and indicated after practice on Thursday that he would have the same strategy on Friday against DC.
Keep an eye out on who starts across the back line as well as who starts in goal. Also, that right midfield position is certainly open, and it will be interesting to see whether Tesho Akindele or Ryan Hollingshead gets the nod on Friday night.
Speaking of Ryan Hollingshead, he's certainly been one of the best performers in preseason so far, earning starts in both preseason matches in Austin while scoring two goals in the 3-1 victory over Columbus.
With the right midfield spot open for battle among players like Hollingshead, Akindele and Coy Craft, the second-year Hollingshead has earned some very important preseason minutes and upped his game big time.
The former PAC-12 Player of the Year is now in his second year as a pro and you should watch him closely on Friday night as his work rate and skill on the bar are among the best on the team. Could he be the breakout player of 2015?
FC Dallas and DC United are meeting for the second time in six days on Friday and while they are both just preseason games, familiarity should certainly bring about a nice competitive game. Sunday's matchup was a physical affair that saw plenty of fouls and midfield play with most of the chances falling to Fabian Castillo and FC Dallas.
If FCD can again limit the DC chances to solo efforts from Fabian Espindola and Chris Rolfe while getting the ball to the feet of Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo, Dallas should have plenty of opportunities to get the first home crowd of the season on their feet.
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.
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?