On balance, 2014 has been a good year for the sport of soccer in the United States. The National Team escaped the Group of Death to advance to the elimination round for the first time in the modern era. MLS reached new heights in popularity that was probably not just attributable to the World Cup bounce. In fact, guys who would normally be fixated on MLS would be blowing their hard-earned dollars on Ethanol and Cahaca. Admittedly, I did it, too. I really need to start working on my Russian.
1. Extending the MLS season schedule. I'm going to write something more extensive in the future about this. I want to pick @bwarshaw14's brain about this now that he's killing it in Sweden, but a more spread out MLS season seems like a no-brainer in 2016 to this
fat bastard inquisitive reporter.
2. FC Dallas's impressive run to the playoffs. We have a young and talented roster. It's fairly frugal, too, compared to most of the league, but what they've accomplished blows the mind. When you consider what we lost in the spine of this team through injury (George John, Hendry Thomas, Mauro Diaz for more than half of the season), it's pretty impressive what the club has accomplished going into the second season. Michel (supposedly a winger) is a fixture in central midfield. Zach Loyd moving inside and playing above his diminutive stature in central defense, and Tesho from the Colorado School of Mines have managed to reinforce the middle at an elite level at times. It compares favorably to the Colorado Rapids last year...which leads me to...
3. Oscar Pareja. Welcome home, sir. The early season highs were glorious; the Hoops were destined for the Supporters' shield...just like last year. Unlike last year, the May-June swoon didn't last- Oscar's rotation helped us earn results and slowly pull out of our funk. At the midseason, Je-Vaughn Watson learned how to be a good right back. Zach Loyd did the same as an out of position at centerback, and Victor Ulloa, who was destined for the minors, became a fixture in the center of the park. El Guapo will miss out on Coach of the Year honors once again due to managing in the hinterlands, but he's more than deserving. I was thrilled when he was given the keys to FCD, and he hasn't disappointed so far. I desperately hope that OP becomes our SAF, and our Cotton Gin is decarated with silver for the next 2 decades.