The talk so far this off season has been about what didn't go right in 2012 for FC Dallas. As we've mentioned time and time again, a lot was broken or didn't work this season. Thankfully though the season wasn't a total disaster. FC Dallas got nine wins and 12 draws, some of which were against quality teams.
There are always silver linings in every season. For Dallas you can at least hang your hats on a few of these things as we build towards 2013. I have a few key items and I urge you all to post your positives from this season.
David Ferreira returned and was close to 2010 form
The biggest item on my list was seeing Ferreira come back from injury in 2012 and be almost as good as his 2010 form that saw him win MLS MVP. Ferreira returned in July during a time when FC Dallas was in the middle of a nasty 13-game winelss run. He slowly got back into form and by August he was showing the league how dangerous he can be when he has the ball at his feet.
The Colombian finished the season playing in 16 games, scoring three goals and leading the team in assists with nine. Not bad for half of a season, especially when he wasn't 100% for the entire part of those 16 games. He was fouled like crazy as folks realized he was getting healthy, but thankfully none of the knocks he picked up this fall were bad enough to put him back on the shelf.
You have to bet that with a full offseason in front of him and a full preseason in January and February, Ferreira will be a big time force in 2013 for FC Dallas.
Blas Perez was as good as we hoped
We all had high hopes for Perez entering the season. We knew his track record and what he could do and sure enough he was a beast for FC Dallas in 2012 when he was healthy. Perez missed 12 games with a foot injury that he picked up in June with Panama during World Cup qualification but once he returned he picked up where he left off by scoring a few key goals down the stretch.
Perez ended the year with nine goals and four assists - leading the team in scoring.
A full winter and preseason with the club will do him a great deal of good for 2013. Let's also not forget to point out that he will get a full preseason with Ferreira and hopefully a healthy and more determined Brek Shea. I think Perez has all the potential to contend next season for the Golden Boot if things pan out for him and the team.
Improvement in role players
After covering this team for a few seasons I've begun to pay more attention to certain things. This season was no different as you could easily see the growth in players like Fabian Castillo, Zach Loyd and (when healthy) Bobby Warshaw.
Castillo was a special case to watch this season for me. At times he was his frustrating self, a tad selfish on the ball and not really connecting with his teammates. But towards the middle of the year, and especially when Ferreira was healthy, you saw this kid grow into what we had hoped he would be come, a dangerous outside threat. He still has a ways to go but he is improving by leaps and bounds each week.
Loyd continues to be a constant figure in the defense for Dallas. You know what you get out of this guy and he continues to get better each week as well in my opinion. You see how dangerous he can be on the flanks when he needs to move forward and his service forward is getting better and better. There are still parts of his game that need to improve but overall he's turning out to be a great defender in this league.
Warshaw was a guy that fans didn't get to see a ton of but one that I know has the potential still to be very good. He needs minutes and time on the field and I think we'll see more of him in 2013.
Matt Hedges exceeded expectations
It was also a great season for the rookie center back from UNC. Hedges got the unlikely large number of minutes for a rookie defender when Ugo Ihemelu and George John were down with injuries. As with many young players there were mistakes that cost the team in some games but overall Hedges showed that he is the center back of the future for this club.
Hedges started 23 games as a rookie and picked up over 2000 minutes. Very few young players get those kinds of minutes and do well with them.
One thing I love about his game is that he is still developing and growing as a defender. No doubt he'll continue to improve and if he can bulk up just a tad, he will be an even bigger force in the back going forward.
Gutsy trade for Julian de Guzman
Rarely have we seen this front office make a big time gamble on a pricy player until this year with the trade for defensive midfielder Julian de Guzman. Dallas gambled on the deal with Toronto - and it turned out to be a good one considering Toronto picked up all of his salary for the season.
De Guzman wasn't the biggest need on the season for Dallas but he turned out to be a great addition as the trade and relocation really helped de Guzman enjoy playing the game again. He admitted several times that he found himself enjoying the game more here in Dallas and having fun again as a player. That showed in his play on the field for Dallas as he was a calming force in the midfield. He would keep the other team honest and at times was clinical with his passing in the middle of the park.
FC Dallas may not be able to keep him at a DP-level contract for 2012, especially given the fact that they already have two DP slots taken and a third will cost them even more. But I still give the club credit for making the trade happen and going for it. Historically Dallas wouldn't have made that move but it was a positive sign for the future that they were willing to gamble on a quality player like that.
I don't think I have to explain this one too much to you all. What Seitz did was a selfless act and one that we should all continue to applaud. One has to wonder what his future with the club holds going into 2013. The club has an option on him for the next season and would be looking to move on and allow Richard Sanchez to move into the backup role behind Kevin Hartman. Still, either way you won't find a better person in Seitz.
FCD Sales team and the fans
It has always been easy to be critical for how the club runs things and how they approach getting fans into the stadium. It has been a long and hard road to fill the stadium each game but the corner has been turned in my mind. The attendance was the highest in stadium history for the season and very close to the all-time club record for average attendance too.
Kudos to the fans that came out for the Chivas game when it was decided a week prior that it would mean very little for the club moving forward.
As we've mentioned on here before, the 2013 season has good potential to be the biggest one to date at the gates for the club.