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What 2016 taught us about FC Dallas

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2016 was an historic year for FC Dallas - here’s what we learned.

MLS: Playoffs-Seattle Sounders FC at FC Dallas Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

As 2016 draws to its limping, “unprecedented” close with our fair share of celebrity deaths, moments of world instability, and unknowable cosmic changes lurking on the horizon, FC Dallas can comfortably say 2016 was a great year.

FC Dallas claimed both the Lamar Hunt Open Cup and Supporter’s Shield, cementing their place as the best team in Major League Soccer. Now, the team can focus determinedly on the MLS Cup in the coming years. 2017 should see them in the thick of things.

Looking back, what lessons did we learn (or re-learn)?

The MLS Cup is a crapshoot.

With the Seattle Sounders playing one of the worst games of soccer in human history, failing to register a single shot on goal in the final against Toronto FC, the MLS Cup deservedly continues its tradition of being a competition more about streaky, lucky play than anything else. This makes it really hard for FC Dallas to actually plan and scheme to get there. Instead, they’ll just need to hope they can peak at the right time and get a few lucky bounces.

Injuries change everything.

This was less of a learning and more of a reminder that injuries can change your season’s fortunes on a dime. When FC Dallas lost Mauro Diaz late, it diminished their MLS Cup prospects significantly. Building a deep roster can alleviate these concerns, but there’s no way FC Dallas or any team can replace a guy like Mauro Diaz.

Clavijo signings are always going to be hit or miss.

I love low risk, high reward signings. For better or worse, FCD fans need to get used to them. 2016 added more to the saga. The better was Carlos Ruiz, more likely a desperation kind of signing, who brought some buzz and had a couple of incredible moments for the team. But the other cast of characters didn’t pan out. Carlos Lizarazo, Juan Esteban Ortiz, and Aubrey David all gave solid minutes in spots but also faded out of the picture. My favorite was Getterson, an unheralded forward who got worse the more minutes he played. Lots of misses in this past season, but this is the way Clavijo and company appear approaching the team’s needs. For 2017, this will be no different, but if any of them pan out, FC Dallas will come away as one of the smarter and thriftier clubs in the world.

All eyes will be on Javier Morales. Can he be a thrifty replacement for Mauro Diaz until our magical little unicorn can return?

Fans have nothing to complain about but they will continue to complain.

Complaining is as American as apple pie. FC Dallas fans, despite enjoying some incredible moments, will continue to find ways to express their discontent. In some areas, the franchise still seems to be piecing together their long term plans as far as marketing and fan relations go, so I understand the confusion and disappointment certain season ticket holders have experienced. But even in the midst of the year when the on field product was damn near perfect, which is the most important thing any fan might want, fans kept their complaints rolling in. I think this is simply part of the fan experience in the US, but let’s be real - this was a great year to be an FCD fan. Let’s enjoy it and cut the front office some slack.

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