FC Dallas has gone through a fairly sizable transformation this offseason with Oscar Pareja taking over for Schellas Hyndman as head coach and the slew of newcomers that technical director Fernando Clavijo has brought in.
Just like with the start of any new season, there are always expectations laid upon a club. But what exactly should those expectations be for the team and some of the players?
The current MLS playoff structure allows five teams from each conference. The fourth and fifth placed teams are placed in a wild-card round, typically just a few days before the conference semifinal round. FCD has had to deal with the wild card round before, back in 2011, when they lost to New York at home.
I know for me, the first big expectations has to be reaching the playoffs. I know front office people will say MLS Cup but I am being a little more realistic about things here just based on turnover, chemistry and everything else in-between.
I find the playoff expectation to be a real one this year even with the Western Conference getting a little deeper across the board. I see Colorado and Salt Lake taking a bit of a dip and the same might be said about Portland in Caleb Porter's second season. I don't buy into Vancouver being anything special just yet and we know where Chivas is in all of this. That leaves teams like LA, San Jose and Seattle, who are all good teams in their own right as well.
This season isn't a sprint either. As we saw last year, coming out of the gate fast is one thing but this league continues to be structured more in how your last couple of months are in the regular season.
No mid-summer flame out
With a new coach, this is one expectation I think we all need to hope/pray/wish/etc for here. The last few years the club has just skimmed by during the summer, typically going winless for a stretch or worse (goal less for a few games last year was a real bummer).
The key to this season really may come down to how the team does between May and August.
Better in the attack
With all that firepower up front between Blas Perez, Mauro Diaz, Fabian Castillo, David Texeira, and Andres Escobar, there is no excuse in my mind that this shouldn't be one of the top offensive groups in MLS this season. There is the right mix of youth, speed, MLS experience, and hunger to win up front that it should be entertaining to watch once it all comes together.
But still strong in the back
I still fully believe that defense does in fact win championships in MLS. FCD has a strong defense, that when healthy, can be one of the best in the league. The last two seasons they lacked a bite in the defensive side of the midfield. But with Adam Moffat, Hendry Thomas and a healthier Peter Luccin around this season, the back four should be better off than they ever were.
We'll get more into the US Open Cup later on this spring when the time comes to it. But just like with every year, FCD has a decent shot at this thing. It does come with a bunch of 'ifs' however. If they get some good home field advantage throughout the tournament. If they get a bracket that sees them play clubs a little closer to home. And if they truly take it serious.
What are you expectations for this season? Do you expect at a minimum getting to the playoffs? If so, what seed? Do you believe this team has the chops to make it all the way to MLS Cup? Any odd ball expectations in your mind too? Let's discuss that below.