FRISCO, TX - APRIL 8: Andrew Jacobson #4 of FC Dallas reacts as referee Paul Ward calls a penalty against him during the first half of a soccer game against the Colorado Rapids at Pizza Hut Park on April 8, 2011 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
From an individual player standpoint, for me there were two major breakout players in 2011. The guy who exceeded expectations the most was Andrew Jacobson. Bought off the Philadelphia Union scrapheap for practically nothing, the Californian was put into his natural spot at central midfield to great results. The Cal-Berkley product played at an MLS Best-XI level during FCD's 9 game unbeaten run and an injury in the Salt Lake game derailed the rest of his season with an injured knee.
The other breakout player was obviously Brek Shea with the Texan scoring 11 goals and 4 assists on his way to an MLS Best XI award. I wouldn't say that his success was quite as surprising as Jacobson's however as Shea locked down the left mid spot back in the middle of 2010 and the writing was on the wall for his huge 2011 season.
Fabian Castillo The most obvious choice is the speedy Colombian, Castillo. The guy doesn't even turn 20 until June and he's the front-runner for the starting right midfield spot. Should Dallas move to a 4-4-2, Castillo would almost surely be the forward next to Blas Perez and he has excelled in a role with more freedom next to the Panamanian. Can he show all his skill in the right midfield position with the rigid set of rules that Schellas Hyndman demands for the position? There are questions, but Castillo's speed and moves on the ball have him among the best young attacking players in MLS and he could put it all together this year.
Andrew Wiedeman If they gave out pre-season MVP awards, Wiedeman would probably get one of them. Finally beginning to adjust to his new role at right midfield, he has scored bunches of goals against the college competition of the early pre-season. He's playing with a ton of confidence right now but the true test will be if he can do it against MLS competition in Orlando. One or two injures or suspensions could see him in a bigger role this season giving him his chance.
Ruben Luna The biggest question with Ruben is what would constitute a breakout season for him? If he gets into 10 games, scores 3 goals and maybe has a game winner in the Open Cup, is that a breakout season? After leading the Development Academy in goals as a 17 year old, and leading the MLS Reserve League in goals as a 19 year old, the time is coming for Ruben to prove himself at the biggest stage, but I think it might still be another year or two before his true breakout which is what makes the Blas Perez signing so brilliant.
Who do you think could breakout for FC Dallas in 2012?