We are one day away from being able to see our Hoops again! Granted the 11am CST kick off is ridiculously hard for most of us to catch the game (we'll post details on how to watch here soon), it is still soccer and it is the first full 90 match that FC Dallas will have played in months. Oscar Pareja has opted to take a few trialists with him to Florida to try to shore up his roster before the March 7th opener, so there is plenty of competition happening as they are all fighting for the chance to land on the team. So the obvious are those without a contract have the most to prove on this trip, but who else needs to have a good showing to prove to Pareja that they deserve minutes this season? Let's take a look:
A lot's been said already that Texeira was held back last season because he didn't have a full preseason with the team and that last season was his transition year. So now's the time for Texeira to show that's he's worth that DP tag. It may not be fair to put that much pressure on him as he is a young (23) striker after all and many don't start really getting into their prime until their late 20s, but when you are a DP, you are expected to play and contribute in big ways. This trip will show us whether 2014 was the most we'd see from Texeira or if there's more we can expect from the Uruguayan striker.
Span spent most of 2014 on loan in the USL Pro with Orlando City. He was called back a few times, but didn't play a minute with Dallas in any competition. The play on the right flank in 2014 was largely inconsistent at best. Andres Escobar never made that position his own and now that spot looks completely wide open to competition. It looks like Pareja will be watching Span closely to see if he's ready to make the jump as an MLS ready winger. Although recent interviews have Pareja stating that he's trying Span up top. So who knows where he'll actually play.
He's had an up and down two years with Toronto FC to start his professional soccer career. On one hand he's been lauded for his technical abilities and composure on the ball. On the other, he never seemed to be able to elevate his game to the level it needed to be to lock down a spot with TFC. He now has a fresh start, new team, new coach and one that's been known to do wonders with young players. Bekker is still just 24 and this will be a big year for him to try to shed the "flop" tag. If Pareja can't turn Bekker into a big league player, then maybe he never had it in him to begin with.
This one might be surprising, but let me explain. The number of trialists brought in that are left backs (two) and the drafting of Otis Earle makes me wonder if Pareja is trying to push Hernandez to another level. After May, the left back position was really his and there was no true challenger. I'm curious to see how Hernandez has responded to the recent additions in his position and whether he has been able mature as a player.
Similar to Hernandez, that Perez is a surprise player I'd put on here. Perez has been steady and a great talisman for Dallas. But with Pareja auditioning Brian Span in the same position (and don't forget that Span is actually bigger than Blas at 6'3 187lbs compared to Perez' "lean" frame of 6'1 174lbs) and of course there's that Rookie of the Year also fighting for minutes. Obviously age is starting to catch up with Perez, but I don't think he's ready to go down without a fight. And with how he was subbed out of that crucial playoff Seattle match in November when Dallas needed a goal, I think Perez needs a good preseason to show Pareja it was a mistake to take him off and hat he's still got it.
What do you guys think? Who needs a good showing in Florida?