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.
It's definitely award season in MLS and as we await the official MLS awards(#VoteForTesho), we thought it'd be fun here at FCDallas.com for those of us who bring you content throughout the year to give you each of our picks for FC Dallas awards in 2014. We've got seven awards and we're going to split them into two parts.
Here are your esteemed panelists(Scott & Aaron not featured in the photo):
Olivia Brestal - Graphic Design Coordinator: Olivia is responsible for all those fancy GIFs you see on Twitter. She was also the brains behind those #VoteForTesho graphics and this.
Scott Brown - Managing Editor of Digital Properties: One half of your Toyota Keys to the Match crew, Scott has been keeping his watchful eye over the team this season from high above in the Toyota Stadium press box. And he has a NWO-style Hollywood Hulk Hogan bobblehead at his desk. Respect.
Robert Casner - Marketing Manager: Formerly known as @FCDallasBeatGuy, Robert is one of the puppeteers behind the game presentation, awesome community tours and cool promotions FCD puts on. He loves FC Dallas, Alexis Sanchez and Ole Miss.
Aaron Griffin - Multimedia Manager: The third half of the TKTTM crew, Aaron is the one behind the camera and the brains that run FCDTV. He is the 2014 FCD Front Office Super Classico Goal of the Year winner, so he knows a thing or two about the beautiful game.
Daniel Robertson - Digital Content Coordinator: The other half of the TKTTM crew, Daniel(who loves to speak in third person) is both the self-proclaimed Instagram video king of MLS digital and the worst prognosticator in the history of MLS digital.
Let's do this.
2014 Team MVP
Scott B: Matt Hedges – Pareja has made a lot of great decisions for FC Dallas this year, and giving the armband to Matt is right up there with the best of them. Hedges continues to improve year-after-year. It’s kinda mind-blowing that he’s never received a national team call-up at any level. Don’t be surprised if that changes come January.
Daniel R: Matt Hedges - Through the first half of the season, Fabian Castillo would probably get the nod, but Hedges has simply been ever-present for FCD this year. Above all else, you want to have your defense in order and Hedges only solidified the award with his play in the playoff series against Seattle. January camp, Klinsi. Make it happen.
Robert C: Matt Hedges - Paging Coach Klinsmann! Hedges has improved drastically in each of his first three years and in 2014 he showed how valuable he is to this team. He wins headers, sniffs out passes before they happen, and organizes everyone in front of him. He got the captain’s band in the middle of the season and never looked back. I know what I’m thankful this holiday season….Matty freakin Hedges!
Aaron G: Matt Hedges - Captain and heart of our backline, to shut down Seattle in the playoffs is saying a lot. We are still waiting for the call up Jurgen…
Olivia B: Matt Hedges – My explanation for this choice is going to be as short as the amount of time attackers had on the ball when Hedges was on the scene – and because I don’t have enough time to write out all my reasonings AND call Jurgen Klinsmann.
U-23 Player of the Year
RC: Victor Ulloa - Vic came into preseason without a guaranteed contract and finished the 2014 season locked down in the central midfield position with 26 starts. The Wylie native and quickly-rising fan favorite displayed patience in his ball distribution and a maturity level that will make him a mainstay on the field in 2015.
OB: Fabian Castillo – see below.
SB: Fabian Castillo – This might be the toughest one to pick on a team that’s so stacked with young talent, but this one has to go to Fabi. He checked in at third on MLSsoccer.com’s 24 Under 24 this year, but Castillo was definitely FCD’s best player under 23 in 2014.
DR: Fabian Castillo - Before I explain this one, let me note that in 2014 FCD could've put together a U-23 team that could absolutely compete in MLS and that's pretty ridiculous. I went back and forth on this one as there are three or even four players that deserve serious consideration for this one, but I had to go with Fabi. He took the step forward in 2014 that we were all hoping and expecting. In 31 combined MLS & LHUSOC games, Fabian had 14 goals and 7 assists including his incredible ten-game streak with a goal or an asisst through the summer.
AG: Victor Ulloa - Started from the bottom now he’s here.
RC: Je-Vaughn Watson - Call him the ultimate utility player. Midfield, defense, it doesn’t matter where you put Je-Vaughn he’ll use his physical nature and ridiculous speed to make the position work. At right back, Watson ran with the fastest wingers and then hauled back down the other end to assist the powerful FC Dallas counterattack. He wasn’t always the center of attention on the field, but his efforts on both sides of the ball haven’t gone unnoticed.
SB: Victor Ulloa – The Ballad of Victor Ulloa isn’t quite as unsung as it was just a few weeks ago (Examples here, here and here). After getting his opportunity through injuries and suspensions in the defensive midfield Victor came seemingly out of nowhere (zero starts in 2011-13, 26 starts in 2014) to become arguably the best FC Dallas Homegrown product to date.
AG: Moises Hernandez – More often than not, he was at the right place at the right time.
DR: Chris Seitz - His heroic deeds off the field are well-documented, but in 2014 Seitz proved that he won't simply be known for that selfless act. Chris had his best year as a professional showing FC Dallas has a bevy of legitimate MLS starting-caliber goalkeepers on the roster posting a 10-4-4 record in MLS, playoffs and LHUSOC play with four shutouts. In fact, since the start of 2013, Seitz is 16-7-6 in MLS, playoffs and USOC play. Very, very impressive. Huge honorable mention goes to Je-Vaughn Watson who finished second on the team in minutes played this year.
OB: Victor Ulloa – When he came in for a banged up midfield mid-season, people assumed they’d get the hesitant play of a young homegrown, but what they got was Shutdown Central: Party of 1. Plus anyone who gets in a mini WWE smackdown with Clint Dempsey in the Western Conference Semifinals – and wins – is an unsung hero in my book.
Stay tuned next week for part 2 of our awards featuring best defender, most improved & more!
The first big step towards the 2015 season takes place today as MLS holds the Chivas USA Dispersal Draft. Through a bit of good fortune, FC Dallas holds the top spot meaning we have first choice at Chivas USA players(minus Erick Torres). MLSsoccer.com has an excellent look at the Chivas USA roster, so be sure to take a look at that as well before today's 3:00PM central time draft held by private conference call.
Let's take a look at the different directions Oscar Pareja, Fernando Clavijo and the FCD technical staff can go with this one.
The best player
There's a train of thought in sports that in any draft you take the best player available regardless of position and there's certainly plenty of merit in that line of thinking. You assemble a squad with the best collection of talent and work the pieces out later because something ALWAYS goes wrong(though Oscar Pareja seems to always turn these into positives).
If you go with the best player theory, then the choice is very likely to be Dan Kennedy. Still just 32 years old, relatively young for a goalkeeper, Kennedy has been the face of Chivas USA for the past half-decade. The all-time leader in appearances for the franchise, the UCSB graduate has missed only eight games in the past four seasons and has averaged over six shutouts a season in that time span.
Yes, FC Dallas already has two starting-level goalkeepers and a strong future prospect in Jesse Gonzalez, but adding someone as talented as Kennedy gives you a lot of options going forward with a long time between now and March 2015 to work everything out.
Oscar Pareja has shown with his quotes and actions that he's not afraid to play young players and it's something he embraces. If FCD wants to add yet another young hotshot to the roster, then Chivas USA has some nice ones to choose from. Midfielder Marco Delgado is still just 19 and has already amassed 37 appearances in MLS including three goals, one of which was scored at Toyota Stadium this year.
There are certainly red flags with Delgado as he has the dreaded "no defined postion" label on him and underwent season-ending knee surgery in September, but he's still a US U-20 mainstay and a hugely talented player.
Another young and interesting prospect is forward Caleb Calvert. The 6-2 California native dominated the US Soccer Development Academy earning a Homegrown contract with Chivas USA. He just turned 18 and has a very bright future if FCD wants to go that route.
The proven commodities
Despite their record, though it wasn't as bad as some may think, Chivas USA certainly has some nice, solid veterans that could help any MLS team. FC Dallas fans will be very familiar with winger Marvin Chavez who had a fantastic run with the team through the 2010 MLS Cup season, and you'd think he could still certainly play a role with the team who utilizes their wingers more than most.
If FC Dallas is looking for a backup to Mauro Diaz, Martin Rivero isn't a bad place to look. The 25-year-old Argentine was brought to MLS in Oscar Pareja's first season in Colorado so there's certainly a familiarity there, and he's been up and down in MLS but did have eight assists in that first season. He's coming off an ACL tear in July, but at 25 there's certainly plenty of talent left in those legs.
FCD could upgrade their defensive depth by adding Bobby Burling, a 30-year-old center back with over 100 MLS games to his name. He likely wouldn't unseat any of FCD's incumbent center backs, but could add some solid, veteran depth to the back line.
The wild cards
There's two offensive names that intrigue me on Chivas USA. Argentine winger Leandro Barrera is the first one. Just 23 years old, Barrera can play anywhere up and down the left side of the field and he brings a speedy spark off the bench that Oscar Pareja would love. He played over 2,000 minutes with Chivas USA this year, joining them from the Argentine First Division and certainly had some bright moments on a team that really struggled for offense. Put him in with this FC Dallas team and you could see him doing very well.
The other interesting name is Tommy McNamara. The name on everyone's lips for rookie of the year through the first month of the season, McNamara started the first six games of his rookie year before tearing his ACL. He was extremely active as a withdrawn forward/attacking midfielder, scored a goal on his MLS debut and was a player everyone was talking about before his injury. Only 23 years old, he's a player that could end up being a steal for someone....and that haircut, yes.
We've had some time to process things and it's time to come to the sad realization that the 2014 season is over. It was an incredible season, but it has sadly come to an end.
Fear not, however! Planning and roster building for the 2015 season begins almost immediately. Here's a rundown of what to expect over the next six weeks as we head towards 2015:
NCAA College Scouting - Now through December 12
It's the business end of the college soccer season as conference tournaments take place across the country this weekend before the NCAA tournament. Not only will the FCD coaching staff be looking at players they could potentially select in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, but they'll also have an eye on potential future FC Dallas Homegrown signings like Boyd Okwuono at North Carolina and Mikey Ambrose at Maryland. Stay tuned as we'll have plenty of info coming up in the next couple days on how our academy alumni are doing as NCAA soccer hits tournament time.
Chivas USA Dispersal Draft - Wednesday, November 19
Sadly, Chivas USA is no more in MLS and while LAFC will be taking their place in a few years, the task to allocate Chivas USA's players will be settled next Wednesday with a dispersal draft. CLICK HERE to read the full information on the draft. We will know the order on Friday and there is certainly a chance that FCD could add a player through this mechanism. It is important to note that any player added must have his 2015 contract option exercised, so it is doubtful that too many players will be selected, but given the fact that Chivas USA had 11 players age 23 or younger on their roster, there is certainly a chance FCD adds one of Chivas USA's former players.
MLS Cup Final - Sunday, December 7
Yeah, yeah I know it's a little tougher to watch when FCD could easily be in it, but c'mon it's the league's championship game. Will Landon Donovan go out on top? Can New England, New York or Seattle achieve their first championship in league history?
Half-day Trade window - Monday, December 8
Immediately after the season ends, the wheeling and dealing begins. MLS is opening a half-day trade window on Monday, December 8 for teams to make moves before the Expansion Draft. You wouldn't expect much but could see trades made with NYCFC or Orlando City before the Expansion Draft.
MLS Expansion Draft - Wednesday, December 10
This is a big one. With New York City FC & Orlando City FC coming into the league in 2015, that means one of the dreaded expansion drafts. We will discuss the rules in much more detail as we get closer to the date, but teams are allowed to protect 11 players plus their Homegrowns and can lose as many as one player to each team.
That's the FC Dallas radar from now until the end of the year. There is also the MLS Draft Combine and MLS Superdraft on January 15 before preseason 2015 gets going in late January. It'll be here before you know it!
Oscar Pareja is known as a manager for his tactical tweaks and there were a couple that caught my eye in the last week of playoff games that I wanted to bring up.
Tesho's two very different roles
Rookie of the year frontrunner Tesho Akindele's role with FC Dallas varied over the last two months of the season as the rookie, who had started 14 straight games, appeared in the starting XI just three times over the last eight games of the regular season.
However, the Colorado School of Mines product has started both of FCD's playoff games, though his roles were very different in the two matches.
Against Vancouver, Akindele was played on the right side of the 4-2-3-1 formation and was a relatively purely offensive player in the match. As you can see from the game's OPTA Chalkboard, Akindele's defensive efforts were mainly simple clearances from set pieces looking to get up the field as quickly as possible to add to the attack. He and Castillo switched sides to effective results during the match and Tesho had the fantastic effort to open the scoring just before halftime.
The OPTA Chalkboard showed 10 "defensive" actions for Akindele in Wednesday's match with six of those coming in his defensive third and four of those in the box, presumably off set pieces. His heat map to the left showed he roamed around the field for the most part looking to combine with Castillo, Diaz and Perez up front.
The relatively direct attack of Vancouver was, by and large, snuffed out by the excellent center back duo of Walker Zimmerman and Matt Hedges with outside backs Zach Loyd and Je-Vaughn Watson cleaning up anything from the wings.
FC Dallas didn't need a huge defensive effort from their wingers against a Vancouver team that does not really rely on their outside backs to provide offense.
Oscar asked for a much different role from him star rookie against the Seattle Sounders, a team with arguably the most offensive outside back in Major League Soccer.
We'll talk about its effectiveness in a moment, but first I want to simply look at the role Tesho played against Seattle. Oscar asked him to sacrifice his offensive opportunities on Sunday night to work in conjunction with Moises Hernandez in slowing down the Sounders' right side of Yedlin and Lamar Neagle, the guy who unleashed a rocket-shot goal in their previous meeting.
As you can see from his heat map to the left, Tesho's role was much more defined in Sunday's game asking him to play a high defensive pressure game against the Sounders' right side duo. His actions are, for the vast majority, in one 30% area on the left side of the midfield, also in the 4-2-3-1 though not as defined as the one with Mauro at the #10 role.
As mentioned earlier, Tesho had 10 "defensive" actions in Wednesday's match mainly in the defensive third of the field where defending is a necesssity. Against Seattle, Akindele had 13 "defensive" actions, but they were almost exclusively in that middle third left side of the pitch where you see the heat map defining.
Tesho was asked to combine with Moises Hernandez to shut down DeAndre Yedlin and Lamar Neagle, something Dallas did extremely effectively. Pareja praised Tesho's efforts after Sunday's match.
Now let's talk about just how well the Dallas defense did against Yedlin
Slowing down the best attacking outside back in MLS
DeAndre Yedlin's star has risen faster than perhaps any young player in MLS history. The 21-year-old earned a big-money move to Tottenham Hotspur on the back of a great performance in the World Cup and while his defensive talents can certainly be scrutinzed, there is no doubt that he is absolutely dynamic going forward and when he plays well, really good things happen for Seattle.
As mentioned before, FCD dispatched a two-pronged defensive of the ultra-athletic Tesho Akindele with Moises Hernandez to stick with Yedlin all evening and it worked wonders.
First, let's look at the last time FCD played Seattle. Dallas played a straightforward 4-4-2 with two left backs, Jair Benitez and Hernandez, and it wasn't the most effective thing ever. As you can see from Yedlin's heat map and stats from that first game, he pretty much had his run of show in the first matchup back in September. 45 completed passes up and down the right side of the pitch, five crosses, etc...
Being the amazing coach that he is, Pareja knew they'd need better results against Yedlin in the second match, so he put in another thoroughbred that could contain Yedlin in Tesho Akindele. As we mentioned earlier, Akindele hung with Neagle and Yedlin every step of the way combining with the excellent Moises Hernandez to make the Sounders' left side ineffective and practically non-existent in the first leg.
As you can see, Yedlin's heat map from Sunday tells an extremely different story from the match back in September. Yedlin completed 80%(45/56) of his passes in September's game compared to just 46%(14/30) of his passes on Sunday. According to the OPTA Chalkboard, Yedlin had 18 attemped or completed passes in the Dallas half in September's match compared to just six on Sunday and Yedlin had just one attempted pass in the FCD final third in the entire match. The stats on Neagle are very similar and it says enough that he was subbed out in the 65th minute.
The numbers are even more impressive when you look at Yedlin's previous matches before Sunday's playoff game.
OPTA Chalkboards of Yedlin's last five matches vs LA, at LA, at COL, vs CHV, at FCD show that Sunday was by far the lowest completed passes he's had in quite some time, his lowest percentage of completed passes and by far his most conservative heat map of the previous month showing FCD did a fantastic job of both keeping him pinned in his own half and limiting his crosses.
The flip side to all of this is, of course, the fact that Seattle seemed pretty content to sit back for most of the game. Much more than they typically do on the road, a team that by far led MLS in road goals scored this season.
It'll be a huge task to do it again in Seattle, but Dallas certainly was able to do it in their own house.