Players officially reported to Pizza Hut Park today for physicals. Tomorrow the real fun of preseason begins for the club. The team will train twice each day beginning Tues., Feb. 1 with a morning session from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by an evening session from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
But has FC Dallas gotten everything in place for the start of camp? Going into the off-season I thought FCD had a few areas that needed to be addressed, especially after the Expansion and Re-Entry drafts came and saw the likes of Dax McCarty, Atiba Harris and Jeff Cunningham leaving town.
The club had some obvious moves that were needed to be made. I'll break them down individually.
Locking Up Ferreira
The biggest was accomplished pretty quickly when the club re-signed league MVP David Ferreira to a multi-year deal. Schellas Hyndman and company deserve a lot of credit for getting this deal done quickly.
Back-up Keeper Situation
Another move that had to be made took place around the Re-Entry draft when the club got a solid back-up keeper. Last year when Kevin Hartman went down the club had to turn to Dario Sala. While Sala was a decent go-to guy in goal we saw late in the year his age and skills were not the same of those when he first started to suit up for the club five years ago. The club traded for Chris Seitz, a move I did question at first but the more I looked at it, the better I thought it would be for the club. Given the extra games this season in the CCL and the USOC, the club had to find Hartman a decent back-up with a fairly good amount of experience. Plus Seitz isn't called to be "the guy" here in Dallas just yet.
Add Depth In the Midfield/Defense
Normally I would separate these two areas out but with Hyndman you pretty much have a hybrid set of players that can play in both the defense and in the midfield. Case and point is the first round draft pick out of Stanford Bobby Warshaw. He can play in the back if or in the midfield if needed. He's a true Hyndman-type player.
Other draft picks may not work out but there could be another Eric Alexander in the bunch. Defender Charlie Campbell could potentially be that guy that finds his way onto the roster after the camp.
Let's face it, as great as Dax McCarty is for any MLS club he was never a Schellas-guy. The two butted heads probably more than it was reported. The club knew very well what they were doing at the expansion draft when they left Dax unprotected. Plus the guy was starting to cost the club more than they could really afford. His likely replacement, Alexander, is far cheaper with more upside in the long run than McCarty. And you know he's sort of a Schellas-guy too.
For weeks, or even months now we've heard FCD Technical Director Barry Gorman talking about how everything was in place for the acquisition of a European midfielder. As Daniel talked about earlier, that player looks to be Brazilian Ricardo Villar.
I'm on the fence about Villar as he is a former Penn State kid that Gorman used to coach. Probably not a player that will make a major impact right away.
Adding A Forward
In some ways we have done this with the academy signings of Jonathan Top. But let's be real honest here, that kid isn't ready to start on First Kick in March (though I'd love to be proven wrong on this topic). With the club's top forward being 34-year old Milton Rodriguez, you have to think they're still looking for options in and out of the league. Obviously someone who will be out of contract as the transfer window is closing up today.
Still the future is bright for FCD in this department with Top and Ruben Luna from the academy, not to mention the continued development of Peri Marosevic.
The club does have two forwards in camp right now. Former Chivas USA striker Maykel Galindo and Jamaican international Sheldon Palmer. If Galindo could return to his 2007 form this could be a great move for the club. Either way there is no harm in trying these two guys out.
I got a feeling if the club does make a splash in the forward market it won't be until this summer.
Believe it or not the club was fairly old last season. With Cunningham and Sala gone the club got a decent bit younger over night. Let's not forget the academy signings and draft picks making the club younger as well. Hyndman was clear last year he wanted to get the roster younger and I think he's finding a happy medium here.
Overall as camp starts I think FC Dallas is still in good shape. Its hard to tell what this club will be like in a few months time but looking at things today you have to like were the clubs stands.
The questions at forward still worry me going forward but as we saw a season ago the club finds ways to get results. Either someone will emerge as a new scoring threat or the team will be balanced in their attack. A lot of pressure falls to Ferreira to create early on for the club but the 2010 MVP should be able to handle that.
What areas do you see Dallas needing to improve before the start of the season? Let's hear it.