Guest columnist Drew Epperley is the founder and editor of WVHooligan.com. His blog covers everything MLS and U.S. Soccer. You can follow him on Twitter @WVHooligan.
Change is all around at FC Dallas Stadium in 2013.
The offseason in Frisco has been an eventful one to say the very least for FC Dallas. From many new faces on the team to changes in the front office; from new coaches on Schellas Hyndman’s bench to potentially a new formation on the field.
The winter months were never dull, making it almost easy to go from November to March without little thought for fans.
The re-signing of George John and other new additions should give fans a reason for optimism on day one.
A new look offense
The biggest story of the offseason for FC Dallas was the transfer of midfielder Brek Shea to English Premier side Stoke City. The loss of Shea off the field meant FC Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo had some much needed wiggle room in the salary cap to bring in some fresh legs for the up coming season.
Clavijo made two bold trades in January: he sent allocation money to New York for striker Kenny Cooper and a 2014 draft pick to Toronto for striker Eric Hassli.
The moves meant there was finally some serious striker depth for Hyndman to play around with.
Cooper is coming off his best season in MLS with 18 goals scored for New York in 2012. If Cooper and Blas Perez can form a good partnership, Dallas fans may be treated to a lot of goals in 2013.
Hassli is coming in with something more to prove. After a decent first season in Vancouver back in 2011 that saw the Frenchman score 10 goals, Hassli was traded in the middle of the season last year to Toronto. As we’ve seen in past, players who have come from Toronto tend to have a lot to prove and do very well in Frisco.
It was no secret that one of the big things that derailed in the 2012 season was injuries to key players. Dallas started the season with guys like David Ferreira hurt and by the start of summer Hyndman saw as many as nine players out with injuries.
To kick off this season, this team is mostly healthy for a change. Dallas will open the season on March 2 against the Colorado Rapids with possibly the healthiest group that Hyndman has ever had in his days as manager of the team.
That being said, it wasn’t just the injuries that hurt in 2012, it was the lack of depth. Hyndman and Clavijo have done a lot of work to make this club deeper this offseason by bringing in guys like Je-Vaughn Watson, Steven Keel and newcomer Michel.
Early in the offseason the big talk was the loss of Kevin Hartman. FC Dallas opted to not re-sign the veteran keeper to a new deal and instead began putting their stock in his backup Chris Seitz.
Many thought the battle for the starting goalkeeper spot was over when the club announced that they were signing Peruvian national team keeper Raul Fernandez.
While the marquee signing of Fernandez made headlines, it was Seitz who has showed well in preseason and made a claim to take the number one spot onopening day. Seitz has appeared very fit in preseason games thus far and has a new sense of swagger that could translate into a leadership role with the team.
Fernandez could see some time away from the club with his national side as they try to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. If Seitz can take remain healthy and show well during that time, he could see the number one spot as his own for the rest of the season.