It is the end of the year, which means it is time to reflect and look back on things that happened over the last 360-some days.
The ride that FC Dallas took us all on this year was a wild one that none of us really could have seen coming in weeks leading up to the season. Here are a few highlights from the year. Feel free to add your own in the comments section below.
1. Winning the Western Conference regular season
A massive pile of points (60) and just a couple goals away from being the Supporters' Shield champions was impressive to say the least. Lets also consider the fact that FCD did it in arguable the tougher conference in Major League Soccer. The Shield winners in New York (or New Jersey if we're being honest) didn't have to play LA three times, or deal with trips to Portland or Vancouver. They also had two expansion teams to play with in their conference.
But hey, we're done dwelling in that. FCD won their conference and that is something to be very proud about when you consider the average age of the starting lineup that Oscar Pareja used most of this season. The club also become the sixth team in MLS history to earn 60 points in a single season.
2. Winning the Texas Derby (again)
To this one:
FCD didn't just dominate the Dynamo in 2015, they practically owned them.
3. Homegrown players emerging
We talked about the young players doing well a lot on this space this year. But lets just go to the numbers to explain why FCD continues to lead the way in Homegrown minutes in MLS.
Dallas' Homegrown players logged a league high 4,607 minutes (14%) of the team's total minutes in 2014. Dallas led the charge in MLS again this season with 6,733 minutes (20%) played by Victor Ulloa, Moises Hernandez, Kellyn Acosta, Alejandro Zendejas, Coy Craft and Jesse Gonzalez. New England finished second with 4,617 minutes played. Dallas' Homegrowns finished the regular season with 2,100+ more minutes than any other team in MLS. (Hat tip to FCD media guru Jason Minnick for pulling those numbers)
Yeah, 20% of minutes played this year by a FCD player were from HGPs. Let that sink in for a moment.
4. Fabian Castillo's breakout year
Between being named the Number 1 player in the league's annual 24 Under 24 list to his first call-up from Colombia, to earning a Best XI honor, it was a banner year for Castillo. His nine goals lead the club while his nine assists were just second behind Mauro Diaz's 10.
This still may be one of my favorite goals of Castillo's this season:
5. Defense quietly shutouts 13 games
Some people may remember the 4-0 blowouts against Colorado and Sporting KC but overall what should be talked about is how the FCD defense tied a team record with 13 shutouts in 2015.
Dallas' defense owned the third longest, sixth longest and 10th longest shutout streaks in MLS this season. Dan Kennedy's 349 minute run began on June 19 and ended on July 18. Jesse Gonzalez had streaks of 337 minutes (10/4‐0/25) and 234 minutes (Aug. 22 to Sept. 12).
The back line improved drastically in 2015 with the leadership of Best XI defender Matt Hedges leading the charge. His partnership with Zach Loyd and Walker Zimmerman was fun to see develop as time went on this season. Pareja also worked his magic by converted more players to become fullbacks. First it was Je-Vaughn Watson in 2014, he followed it up with a pretty decent run of Atiba Harris and Ryan Hollingshead in 2015.
Signing Michael Barrios: Did anyone expect him to become a big time starter and score seven goals? Nope, I know I didn't.
Diaz's 10 assists: Diaz became the sixth FCD player to reach 10 assists in a single season.
International callups: This may not be as much of a highlight to some but FCD had 55 player-matches missed by international callups in 2015.
Injuries down: FCD only lost 55 player-matches to injuries this year. Basically cut 2014's number in half.