This week, we try to look for silver linings (as hard as that may be) from the disappointment that was the 2013 season.
Again, in no particular order, here are my five diamonds in the rough, items that we can take out of the season as successful endeavors:
1. Kellyn Acosta
Undisputed winner of the 2013 season, in my opinion. Acosta went from bench-warmer to starter, courtesy of a Zach Loyd injury and never looked back. Acosta's offensive numbers were not good at all, but boy did he impress us on the defensive side of the ball. He looked every bit the part he was portrayed coming out of the academy and is destined for greatness. Will he stay at right back? Will the coach play him in the midfield? We don't know just yet. All I know is that I am excited to see what this kid has in store! Were it not for Kellyn, this write-up would have been much tougher to do.
This next one is a little bit controversial, but I want you to ignore the games now and keep an open mind regarding numbers ONLY.
2. Improved Statistics
A lot of these statistics are skewed towards the beautiful start to the season, but we can't completely ignore them. Dallas had 1.29 points per game in '13 as opposed to the 1.15 they averaged in 2012. FCD also raised their goals scored total six higher than last year's total. Let's not forget, 10 shutouts in a season for FC Dallas is nothing to scoff at. Heck, the Supporters Shield winners had 11 shutouts on the season. That's the best team in the leauge. However, let's forget about comparing FCD to the Energy Drink. FC Dallas only had six shutouts in 2012, a season which they (amazingly enough) fared better off than they did this season in the overall standings. It seems like FCD improved in many statistical facets, a LOT of which can be attributed to the blazing start to the season, but the competition was much better this year in MLS than it was last year.
3. Dan Hunt
Dan Hunt has been a godsend for this team. A knowledgeable passionate member of ownership could be just what we need down here in Frisco. Money, money, money. FC Dallas finally found their corporate stadium sponsor on September 10, 2013. Toyota signed on and Pizza Hut Park became a distant memory to the new Toyota Stadium. We expect a large influx of cash from this deal that will allow the Hoops to spend more on improving fan experience, the stadium, and on-field play. Time to see if Dan Hunt means business on his remodeling promises or even use the cash to pry away a coach from an organization that he is tied to. This sponsorship was huge for this organization and a definite win for 2013 and it could not have been done without the help of Mr. Hunt. I really don't think there is a more down-to-earth owner in all of sports than Dan. I mentioned this once before, but any owner who is willing to bond with his supporters' groups is doing things the right way. I am excited to see how Dan Hunt can build on his good 2013 next year.
4. El Capitan
Leaving the stadium used to be fun for me as an adolescent. I used to walk out and hold my hands on my ears because I knew what was coming next. "BOOOOOOOOOOOM". El Capitan had struck. This majestic cannon helped make me a better fan when I was younger and I am so glad that it is back.
Let's be honest here, FC Dallas dominated their bitter in-state rivals in both of their match-ups this year. It took a late winner from Kenny Cooper for a magical moment. but that game should not have been close in the first place. The Hoops then proceeded to dominate The Dynamo in their Open Cup face-off.
Beating Houston twice in one year always should make this list every year. Why? We all hate Houston.
5. Youth Loans
FC Dallas finally got their kids playing time this year. It took the Hoops FO a while to figure this one out, but they finally did it. Richard Sanchez, Bradlee Baladez, and Bobby Warshaw were the three players loaned out and, quite honestly, all played well for their teams.
Baladez began the season on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers' bench but made it to where he was almost bagging a goal a game towards the end of his tenure. Richard Sanchez kept Fort Lauderdale in matches they had no business being in, making key saves at key moments.
Bobby Warshaw exploded on the scene in the Swedish Second Division (I know) and showed an adept scoring touch that we had not seen while he was here.
The bottom line is that all these players benefited from their increased playing time. If FC Dallas wants their academy to be successful, they need to find ways to give these raw talented prospects a chance to sharpen their technical abilities and soccer minds. FCD managed to do that in 2013. Let's hope the FO builds off this good year and continues to progress in dealing with their starlets. Hopefully, this can be achieved in the form of a USL team.
Kid played his heart out when called upon. This has the potential to be solid at the back in front of the keeper.
Wrapping It Up
It's pretty sad when the only on-field positives from an entire season are the play of a potential stud and improved statistics that led to a worse draft pick than the prior year with inferior statistics.
Just goes to show you how rough the end of the season was for FC Dallas. I can't wait to forget it and move on.
Did I miss anything that went well for FCD this season?