"Getting younger at the position" is a term you typically hear in baseball preseasons. While pitchers and catchers are reporting across the country, FC Dallas has taken on the same mantra as Oscar Pareja molds a rejuvenated attack.
The youth movement has been on for FC Dallas ever since last summer when FCD added both Danny Garcia and Mauro Diaz to the mix, and it hasn't slowed down in the 2013-2014 offseason. In the past nine months, FCD has added six attacking players in total - all under the age of 23 - in addition to young guys like Mauro Diaz, Fabian Castillo and Jonathan Top.
"When you try to create a structure and keep it for many years to come, of course you need to have youth," said technical director Fernando Clavijo. "And have players you can work with and build them around how you want to be in the future."
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Without a doubt, the most interesting storyline of the 2014 preseason will be to see which of a host of young players like Tesho Akindele, Ryan Hollingshead, Cobi Span, Danny Garcia and Top will emerge to earn playing time alongside established veterans like Blas Perez and Je-Vaughn Watson.
"I think it’s a mix of both with veterans who’ve been around and the young ones who can bring energy, enthusiasm and challenge the older ones," said head coach Oscar Pareja. "I think it’s a mix, but at this point we have this many young players and it’s an exciting time for the club and I'm especially looking forward to players who can establish themselves here for a few years."
"I think you’re going to see some of the young players given a lot of time this year and that makes happy," said Clavijo. "That makes me think that the direction that we chose to go is the right one and the players are responding to Oscar."
Just three games and less than three weeks remain for the young guys to make their case for a spot on the squad come March 8. The next chance to impress will come on Wednesday night with a match against the University of South Florida at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
"We’re excited at the mix of veterans and younger players. This is the direction that we at FC Dallas want to go," said Clavijo. "We're looking at young players in the Academy coming in and..at the same time the coaches with [former Academy coach] Josema Bazan moving to the pro level is a direct message of what the Academy means to us not only about players but coaches."