It's almost here! The 2017 preseason officially begins on Monday as FC Dallas players report for what is the shortest preseason in club history as Oscar Pareja's side prepares for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Arabe Unido beginning on Thursday, February 23rd. While FC Dallas has done a fantastic job at keeping the core of their team intact with one of the best lineups in the league, there are certainly plenty of preseason battles to watch as players jockey for playing time before the season begins.
Here are five battles to watch as we begin preseason. Stay tuned to FCDallas.com as we give you all the coverage in the month leading up to kicking things off!
Between the pipes
It is no secret that FC Dallas has been lucky enough to have two starting caliber goalkeepers for the last couple years as Chris Seitz and Jesse Gonzalez have provided very reliable service in goal. In 2016, Gonzalez came into the season as the incumbent after his heroics in the 2015 playoffs, but in the fourth match of the season, Seitz took over the starting spot.
The California native went on to have a career year in 2016 earning the second-most wins and shutouts in the league while leading all goalkeepers with at least 20 games played in goals against average. The roles are likely flipped in 2017 with Seitz coming in as the incumbent, but there's no doubt either is capable of All-Star level goalkeeping. These guys battle it out in friendly competition every day and 2017 will be no different.
To the right...
FC Dallas has arguably the best two center backs in the league in Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman, but the outside back spots will be a battle all season. First, let's take a look at the right side.
For that spot, you've got Costa Rican international Jose Salvatierra, Atiba Harris, Ryan Hollingshead and Reggie Cannon all with experience at the position. Salvatierra and Cannon are the naturals at the position, though without a doubt Harris and Hollingshead have been very solid at the back as well.
Due to his injury, Hollingshead is unlikely to hit the training ground before the season starts so it'll be down to Cannon, Salvatierra and Harris at the position. Look for multiple options to be tried throughout the preseason.
To the left...
Over on the left side, FC Dallas is stacked with two great options in World Cup veteran Maynor Figueroa and young Ecuadorian speedster Anibal Chala with the team still exploring their options on Homegrown Moises Hernandez who was loaned out for the 2016 season.
In Figueroa and Chala, you have two great looking options, but they really couldn't be much different. Figueroa, a 5-11 187-pound brick house who is rarely beaten on the ground or air and Chala a 5-10, 155-pound speedster who doesn't possess the physical strength of Figueroa but has the capability of blowing past pretty much anyone in the league with his speed.
It's going to be fascinating to see how that position develops and if Pareja chooses to go with the speed or the veteran guile at the position. Look for Figueroa to fill in at center back as well with Hedges or Zimmerman are unavailable.
FC Dallas currently has five teenage Homegrowns on the roster in wingers Coy Craft, Bryan Reynolds and Jesus Ferreira as well as midfielder Paxton Pomykal and defender Reggie Cannon.
These five will be battling it out all preseason both trying to earn spots on the U-17 and U-20 World Cup rosters as well as earning playing time with the first team. It's going to be an absolute joy watching these amazingly-talented young players look to break through. Of the five, Cannon could have the quickest opportunity to earn some playing time as mentioned above, but any of these players are capable of turning heads from day one.
The draft picks...
It's going to be an absolute battle between FCD's seven draft picks with probably just a couple roster spots available to be won. First round pick Jacori Hayes was projected to go as high as the top ten of the draft and will likely earn one of those spots in backup midfield, but beyond that FCD will likely need another defender and *maybe* one more spot.
Look out for Walker Hume and Austin Ledbetter to really battle it out looking to earn a spot at center back behind Hedges, Zimmerman and Aaron Guillen.