2011 did not end well for Schellas Hyndman and FC Dallas, I think everyone will admit that. A perfect storm of tragedy, injury, fatigue and fixture congestion saw a once-promising FC Dallas squad flame out of every competition with a whimper leaving major question marks entering 2012. At Christmas, many FCD fans were becoming impatient as the holiday season had not brought any new players to the thin squad, however Schellas Hyndman and company have sprung to life in January energizing the squad with four new players.
The forward position, a spot of bother for practically two years, has been solidified with the signing of Panamanian international forward Blas Perez. Mighty Mouse, as he is known in Panama, brings experience, guile and a goal poacher mentality to a squad with two highly talented but young forwards in Ruben Luna and Fabian Castillo. To have Perez, a forward that Hyndman has had on his radar for years, basically fall into their laps after the dissolving of his former club is a major boon for Dallas.
The defense, so thin that an emergency replacement signed from the NASL was thrust into a starting role for a CONCACAF Champions League game, has been improved more than any other spot on the pitch.
With George John's departure to West Ham at "50-50", Schellas went out and signed Hernan Pertuz, a Colombian youth international center back, who figures to challenge for the starting center back position opposite Ugo Ihemelu. Should Pertuz take some time to adjust, FCD is still in good hands as Matt Hedges, the top rated senior center back in the MLS Superdraft, fell to Dallas at #11 overall. Hyndman was no doubt ecstatic to snap the national champion defender to provide further depth.
Perhaps the most under-the-radar, but highest impact signing of all could be Panamanian defender Carlos Rodriguez, signed on loan from Tauro FC. The 21 year old outside back, who will be in the Panama squad to face the United States on Wednesday, seems to perfectly fit the bill of a Schellas Hyndman outside back. Likely signed to a cheap contract, Rodriguez will provide fantastic cover for Zach Loyd and Jair Benitez while pushing both outside backs to not get too comfortable in their positions.
Holes certainly remain on the squad as the right midfield spot sits unoccupied and a forward to push Blas Perez would be helpful, but you have to say January has been a good month for the gaffer. As the MLS Hot Stove season winds down and the pre-season hits full force, the work off the field is mostly done save for one or two possible additions. The challenge now becomes turning a squad with the talent on paper to contend for MLS Cup into a squad worthy of contending for MLS Cup on the field.