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.
Mexico continued their recent dominance of the CONCACAF U-20 championships winning their third in a row as they topped Panama in PKs on Saturday in Jamaica.
FC Dallas Homegrown goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez proved to be one of the heroes as the netminder saved two PKs in the shootout that saw El Tri take home the trophy.
Gonzalez allowed just three goals in five games for El Tri posting two shutouts for the eventual champions who easily qualified for the U20 World Cup this summer in New Zealand.
USA books a spot in New Zealand with win over El Salvador
Despite a rough start, the US U-20s rebounded fantastically well and sealed their spot in New Zealand with a 2-0 win over El Salvador in the winner-take-all knockout game.
Though Kellyn Acosta was forced to miss the second half of the tournament, he expressed his excitement on Twitter yesterday after the US qualified.
Day one of the 2015 FC Dallas preseason is in the books and like every first day it was full of optimism as Oscar Pareja and FCD look to improve on their Western Conference Semifinal finish last season. Here's a little bit of news, notes, pics and quotes from today's practice.
- Today was mainly a fitness day for FC Dallas as the team works under new fitness coach Fabian Bazan. There was a notably long stretching session before the team did some more running drills. After that the balls came out and some short-sided passing drills ensued before the players went on a long run around the complex finishing up with more running inside AdvoCare Field 1.
- Yep, it was basically a training full of running.
- FC Dallas will continue their week of training in Frisco before departing for the IMG Academy in Florida with two practices on Saturday at 9AM and 4PM and one practice on Sunday at 10AM.
- Except for the players away with their respective national teams, nearly everyone was out at training today including all the draft picks, though new midfielder Kyle Bekker was absent and is set to train tomorrow for the first time
- By my count there were four trialists besides the draft picks at training today including two familiar faces in former FCD Academy standouts Jack Coleman and Damian Rosales. Jack played 17 games at Duke as a senior scoring one goal and one assist while Rosales was a four-year standout at SMU earning Second-Team All-AAC honors as a senior finishing second on the team in goals with six playing in an attacking wing back role.
Quote of the day:
"I’d say that he’s one of the best signings that we can have here. I’m very proud of the club and really grateful for the support of the ownership and front office putting into the project. Fabian is going to help our players tremendously. He’s a high level fitness coach and not just that, but he’s another assistant due to his knowledge about the game so it’s a great package to have."
-Oscar Pareja on new fitness coach Fabian Bazan
Here are some fanastic pics from practice courtesy of Olivia Brestal -
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).
Let the 2015 preseason begin.
FC Dallas announced today that they will officially open 2015 preseason camp on Friday, January 23rd at 10:00 A.M. on AdvoCare Field 1 outside Toyota Stadium.
FCD will continue preseason training with two practices on Saturday, January 24th at 9:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. with their final practice of the weekend on Sunday at 10:00 A.M., all on AdvoCare Field 1.
FC Dallas will train in Frisco throughout the next week before heading to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL on February 1st where they will train for a week with games to be announced before returning back to Frisco.
Here is the full FC Dallas roster as we open 2015 preseason:
Defenders: Kellyn Acosta, Otis Earle, Matt Hedges*, Moises Hernandez, Stephen Keel, Zach Loyd, Will Seymore, Walker Zimmerman.
Midfielders: Kyle Bekker, Coy Craft, Mauro Diaz, Danny Garcia, Atiba Harris, Jaineil Hoilett, Ryan Hollingshead, Michel, Cobi Span, Victor Ulloa, Alejandro Zendejas**.
Forwards: Tesho Akindele*, Fabian Castillo, Blas Perez, David Texeira.
**Currently with the U.S. U-17 National Team
***Currently with the Mexico U-20 National Team
NOTE: FC Dallas players and coaches are available for interviews,only as arranged through FC Dallas Communications,following the morning training sessions. Practices vary in length and times are subject to change. Media are encouraged to call FC Dallas Communications ahead of the scheduled times to confirm practice times and player / coach availability.
As you probably already know, FC Dallas captain Matt Hedges and reigning AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year Tesho Akindele are currently in training camp with the U.S. Men's National Team. Before heading to Santiago, Chile next week for the USMNT's first friendly of the year, the boys have been training in Carson, CA at the StubHub Center, home of the LA Galaxy.
Our friends at the Galaxy were kind enough to snap some training photos and send them our way this week. So we picked out EVERY photo featuring Matt or Tesho (whether they were the focus of the picture or not) to share with you. ENJOY!
Photo Credit: Hana Asano (Click on photo for larger version)
Headers with Matt!
Kicks with Tesho!
Tesho lurking in the background.
How many differences can you spot in this photo?
"Do blondes really have more fun?"
Tesho vs. Jermaine! Fourth of July preview, anyone?
Blurry Tesho photobomb!
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.
MLS Rookie of the Year Tesho Akindele is now through a week of his first USMNT camp and some great media stories have come in about the FC Dallas forward who still remains ineligible to actually play in a game for the US and has a decision to make about his future.
Jon Arnold of Goal.com is in Carson at USMNT camp and filed this report on Tesho.
He feels like one of the guys off the pitch as well, though one of the biggest surprises came when he realized the intensity that can come with a national team camp.
"I think a lot of the guys, it’s just crazy the switch that gets flipped," he said. "Like, once training starts, guys get super intense and if you make a mistake everybody’s getting on you. But in the locker room, everybody’s joking around and having a good time."
Doug McIntyre of ESPNFC.com is also in California and writes that Tesho is getting a feel for life with the USMNT under Juergen Klinsmann.
"He's doing really well, Tesho," Klinsmann said. "The goal with players like him or Julio Morales (another young dual-national who is also in this camp) or others that came in before is that they may get a feeling for our environment. They may get a feeling for their teammates, how things are run with the U.S. program and then down the road they make their decision. Together with their family, they have to go the direction they feel most comfortable with. I think so far he's having a blast. He's doing fine, he's looking sharp."
We're just days away from the 2015 preseason getting started, but we've still got time for one final draft before we say goodbye to the offseason.
This afternoon at 1:00PM rounds three and four of the MLS SuperDraft take place via conference call and FC Dallas holds the 14th pick in each round.
Last season, FCD's third round Nick Walker, made the team after preseason and appeared on the matchday roster multiple times, so while any players selected in these rounds are relative long shots, there is certainly a chance FCD could find a hidden gem.
For a primer on today's supplemental draft including the 20 best players remaining, check out this article on MLSsoccer.com.
Last year, FC Dallas had a successful week of training in Bradenton and they'll be returning to the IMG Academy for a week in the 2015 preseason.
FC Dallas will be in Bradenton at IMG Academy from Sunday, February 1 to Sunday, February 8 along with DC United and Swedish sides Jonkopings Sodra IF and Malmo FF as part of IMG Academy's Season of Sun, Sand and Soccer.
Stay tuned for full FC Dallas preseason coverage and more announcements of preseason games as we march towards the start of the 2015 season!