>Wednesday Lunch: MLS Team Preview – FC Dallas

Posted: March 9, 2011 in mls
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

>By Evan Ream, with help from the Intern

Last Year: 12-4-14 50 points, 3rd in West, 4th overall. Beat Real Salt Lake 3-2 in Western Conference Semifinals, Beat LA Galaxy 3-0 in Western Conference Final, Lost to Colorado Rapids 2-1 in MLS Cup.
Key Losses: Heath Pearce, Jeff Cunningham, Dax McCarty, Atiba Harris
Key Additions: None
Projected Starting XI: FC Dallas probably plays the most unique formation in MLS. It can be best described as a 4-1-4-1. Their back four consisting Benitez, John, Ihemelu, and Loyd is pretty much your stereotypical back line, though the outside backs are allowed to get further forward due to Daniel Hernandez playing in a deep lying midfield position in which he is always providing cover. In the midfield, Brek Shea and Marvin Chavez do a lot of the creating, but also have defensive responsibilities. Eric Alexander will try to take over the linking role that Dax McCarty performed so well last year. David Ferreira may be listed as a forward by some, or a midfielder by others, but he really doesn’t have a position. Ferreira, last year’s league MVP, has the license to roam. He drifts in and out, here and there, gathering the ball deep and distributing it, or creating goals up top. So many teams can’t guard him because he is moving so often off of the ball. Ferreira creates most of their goals, usually from different positions, and he is always the key to the Dallas’ team attack. Milton Rodriguez is a classic target forward who seems to be a somewhat limited player. Rodriguez hasn’t really impressed me, but the team was still successful last year without him making major contributions, so they should be alright without relying on him this year.

Milton Rodriguez
David Ferreira
Brek Shea                Eric Alexander            Marvin Chavez
Daniel Hernandez
Jair Benitez          George John          Ugo Ihemelu          Zach Loyd
Kevin Hartman

Prognosis: Dallas should still be a playoff team this year, but they lost a lot of good players, and thus their depth will be tested when players inevitably get injured. Zach Loyd may be as good as Heath Pearce, and Eric Alexander is a promising young midfield player, but Daniel Hernandez turns 35 this season, and they lost Jeff Cunningham’s off the bench spark as well as Atiba Harris’ versatility. Many young players need to contribute this year. If Kevin Hartman has the same sort of season he did last year, I can see them matching their success, but it just seems like they have lost too much depth and didn’t really try to replace it with anything. They still have their core of players, but losing Dax McCarty will cost them ultimately. I see this team being a lower playoff seed that can upset teams, but due to a lack of depth will not be able to find the consistency they had last year.
The Intern’s Take: The losses up top of Jeff Cunningham and Atiba Harris, who together scored over a third of Dallas’ goals last season, will be a hard to fill for FCD. Once again, the key to Dallas’ success will rest with David Ferreira. More so than last season, the reigning MVP will need to lead this team if they are to secure a spot in the playoffs. The youth and inexperience of some of the midfield behind Ferreira will be an interesting part of FCD to watch and I expect them to improve quite a bit as the season progresses. Brek Shea will need to increase his role in the team, becoming more reliable and a smarter player (no more of these). Although Eric Alexander will likely struggle to fill the gap left by Dax McCarty, he is a promising young player and will have a lot of pressure upon him in his sophomore season. Daniel Hernandez is getting older and had to undergo knee surgery in the offseason for an injury he played through during last year’s playoffs, but will still be able to provide an effective leadership role for the rest of the midfield, assuming he can stay healthy. FCD’s greatest strength will be its defense, and despite the loss of Heath Pearce, they should be strong again. Without as many goal-scoring threats, Dallas will rely heavily on their defense to keep them in games. As previously mentioned, the lack of quality depth on the Dallas roster will not make this season easy for them, especially considering they will be playing in CONCACAF Champions League as well. Despite Dallas’ success last year, they simply got rid of too much talent to repeat what they achieved last season in my opinion. I do think that this slimmed down squad will still be competitive and that Dallas will make the playoffs, but possibly because of the decision to include ten teams in the postseason instead of eight. I can easily see FCD finishing somewhere between the sixth and ninth spot in the standings.

  1. Anonymous says:

    >NO key additions? This is pretty wrong. Fabian Castillo not only is pure, raw talent but he's also young. Chris Seitz is another notable pickup as well as Ricardo Villar. Oh, and Andrew Jacobson has looked pretty good this offseason.

  2. Anonymous says:

    >And the comment about Atiba Harris is downright wrong. So wrong. That's just shoddy work. I think he scored maybe 3 goals all season. Don't make me laugh. I don't know what anyone else saw in Harris but there's a reason he was left for the expansion draft and it wasn't because of his salary. It's because he was BAD.

  3. >Thank you for your input, but I have to disagree. If any of FC Dallas' additions make any impact this season, I will be incredibly surprised. Furthermore we didn't say Atiba Harris scored 1/3 of Dallas' goals, we said that Cunningham and Harris TOGETHER scored a third of their goals. Atiba Harris is not a bad player he was left unprotected in the expansion draft because Dallas had too many other good players. If being left unprotected in the expansion draft means you're bad, then why was Dax McCarty left unprotected? Also after the season Chris Seitz had last year, how can you consider him a notable pickup for any other reason than Dallas still has a terrible back-up keeper?

  4. Anonymous says:

    >Atiba scored 4 goals last year and I swear, if you saw this man play, you CANNOT make the case that he was effective. Not in any way. He had his moments, but just about everyone has their moments. I saw Atiba screw up so many plays it was just ridiculous, his first touch was just awful under most circumstances.Dax was a salary dump to pick up a striker which we did with Castillo. And Seitz didn't do well in Philly, but Hartman was a backup in Kansas so…

  5. Anonymous says:

    >Losing Jeff Cunningham was a calculated thing, and while I worry a bit I think we can more than make up for it. He's getting old and you can't always rely on the old warhorse to keep producing at the same levels. He had already drastically dropped in effectiveness from two seasons ago, and coming off the bench was the only way he was effective. Until Schellas benched him he only had 1 run-of-play goal in 9 games. That is shoddy production from your lone, marquee striker. The team decided that it was time to get someone who has life in their legs and is consistent. Jeff was great but he won't last forever and he cost a lot to ride the pine.

  6. >Hartman was never a backup in Kansas City. I'm also not trying to tell you that Atiba Harris was an effective player, but he was a starter and a great ball winner and utility player. Alecko Eskandarian said he was one of the best teammates he ever played for. Losing Dax was most definitely not a salary cap move, it was a mess up on Schellas' part. He could have easily been traded before the expansion draft for something, but Dallas was too dumb to do anything about it. Cunningham wasn't as good last year as he had been before but he still led the team in goals, the team that made MLS Cup.

  7. Anonymous says:

    >I love the speculation on the Dax move. Him and Schellas didn't get along, and there was depth on midfield AND he spent HALF the season injured during which we were on a run he had no part in. Dax gets bitten by the injury bug for a month and a half about every season. And his salary was one of the highest on the team, right behind Ferreira. He was left exposed KNOWING someone would take him. FC Dallas' staff has been doubted plenty of times before, this time is no different. I guess the coaches and technical director are just silly.I watched every single match last year and replays as well. Atiba was easily, of the starters, the worst of the bunch by FAR. He didn't have any kind of consistency at all. A blank spot on the roster (as evidenced in the first playoff leg against RSL) is more effective.

  8. >I just think Dax is too good to let get away for absolutely knowing, they could have traded him earlier if they didn't want him. Atiba Harris was the worst starter last year, I agree, but he was still a starter and a decent player that could contribute.

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