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Five things to look forward to for FC Dallas in 2017

A new year is upon us, so what greatness awaits FC Dallas?

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at FC Dallas Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

A new year is sneaking up on us here as we look to turn the calendar over to 2017 this weekend. The year that we’ve had in 2016 has certainly been a good one but it is time to look to the future to see what is in store for FC Dallas.

Here are a few items worth keeping an eye on in the new year.

Champions League

Thanks to a pretty memorable come-from-behind win back in October down in Guatemala, FC Dallas gets to try their hand at the knockout stage in the CONCACAF Champions League. In February, the club will be back in action as they take on Panamanian side Arabe Unido.

The first leg will come on February 22, with the followup kicking off days before the start of the 2017 MLS season in LA. Should FC Dallas advance, they’ll get a tough match up against the winner of Costa Rican giants Saprissa or Mexico’s Pachuca. Either way, the road to a CCL title will be a tough one.

Home opener against New England

Thanks to the CCL and some Toyota Stadium improvements, the home opener isn’t the first weekend of the season this year for FC Dallas. The 2017 season will be only the second time in franchise history that Dallas has not opened its season at home. The 2007 team opened the season with four straight away matches before returning to Toyota Stadium, where it defeated the Colorado Rapids, 3-1.

Finalizing the transfer of Fabian Castillo

We know this one is coming before long. It could even happen this weekend if we’re all lucky. The saga that has been surrounding Fabian Castillo in 2016 is close to coming to an end as FC Dallas will either officially sell the Colombian winger to Turkish side Trabzonspor or to another club should they not come through with the transfer money.

FCD players with the USMNT

We’ve heard the rumblings that Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman will be in the US camp in January for the first national team matches of the new year. We’ve also seen how Kellyn Acosta has been a bit of a mainstay with the national team in 2016.

So what does the new year hold for these three? Hopefully more exposure to the national team setup and more minutes with the team. Given that there are important World Cup qualifiers and Gold Cup matches to deal with in 2017, it would be great to see these three as big parts of the national team moving forward.

More academy success

It is hard to look back at 2016 and not mention the success of the FCD academy teams. Not just one national title but two in the U-16 and U-18s with the U14s doing a bang up job of their own.

From that success saw the club sign four of their own into Homegrown deals and two more find their way into international clubs. The expectations are now super high but this group continues to look the part as they’ve started off the new season this fall with strong records in the Development Academy play.

I look forward to seeing what this group can do at the Dallas Cup in the SuperGroup next spring. I’ve been told a couple of the recent HGP signings will be eligible to play with that team too. So that is a positive to hear for them getting minutes in the spring.

What type of things are you looking forward to in 2017? Let us know below.