FRISCO - The 2018 MLS season has arrived.
FC Dallas opens up their league account tonight as Real Salt Lake comes to Toyota Stadium for their lone trip this season. Let's dive into the first MLS Starting XI Oscar Pareja is putting out.
After elimination from CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday night, Dallas will field a largely first-choice look Saturday night. Had FCD advanced, they would've faced a road match at Estadio Azteca on Tuesday night and we would've surely seen a completely different look for the home opener.
Maynor Figueroa will start on the left in place of the injured Anton Nedyalkov and of Ryan Hollingshead, who thrives in the wing back role on the left. Jacori Hayes earns just his third MLS start in the midfield alongside Carlos Gruezo, a departure from the two CCL matches where we saw Victor Ulloa in that role. Jimmy Maurer will get his first MLS start after logging over 100 appearances in NASL action over the last five seasons. Jesse Gonzalez, who has dealt with a few nagging knocks throughout preseason will get the evening off on the short turnaround and Kyle Zobeck will backup Maurer on the bench. Homegrown defender Kris Reaves also makes his first appearance on an MLS matchday roster, available of the bench.
Dallas will go back to their traditional 4-2-3-1 formation on the heels of a 3-5-2 look in Leg Two earlier in the week, although the alternate formation isn't gone for good. Pareja has said several times he hopes to utilize both throughout the year and with Hollingshead on the bench, he could move to that formation later in the match. Newcomer Santiago Mosquera will make his first MLS start after joining the club just two-and-a-half weeks ago.
FC Dallas has won a league-best six straight season openers dating back to the 2012 season, including a 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy in Carson last season on the heels of a CCL mid-week game. FCD has not lost in a home opener since 2009 and has won every home opener since 2012, outscoring opponents 9-3 with three shutouts.
The last time RSL was at Toyota Stadium in June 2017, Dallas took a resounding 6-2 win including a hat trick from Roland Lamah - the fastest in club history with all three goals coming in 30 minutes and 38 seconds - and Homegrown Jesus Ferreira became the second-youngest MLS player to score a goal. Dallas also beat Salt Lake a month prior in Utah, 3-0.