We’ve already looked at our depth chart for the defense and goalkeepers, but let’s take a position by position look at what to expect from the defensive unit.
Seitz returns for another season between the sticks. He’s been solid for several years now, and with Hedges and Zimmerman in front of him, he shouldn’t have much work to do. In fact, FC Dallas had the least number of shots saved last season with only 79. Compare that to LA Galaxy whose keeper saved a league high 135 shots. Seitz isn’t called into action much, but there’s no reason to expect anything less than consistency from the 29-year-old.
Maynor Figueroa returns, but with stiff competition. Offseason addition Anibal Chala should make a strong push for the starting spot, if Chala doesn’t outright win it, then expect him to compete with Figueroa throughout the season. Figueroa has been decent, but unspectacular, only recording one assist last season. Chala’s speed would offer a more dynamic option on the left side, something that FC Dallas has lacked for a few seasons now. Chala could take some attacking pressure of Lamah by making himself available for overlap, something Figueroa did not excel at. The 2017 season should see improvement in production out of the left back position. The worst case scenario is Chala struggles and Figueroa returns. He did adequately last year and would not be a weakness for the backline, he just cannot offer the offensive opportunities that Chala does.
This is a very similar situation to left back. The incumbent, Atiba Harris, returns meaning at worst FC Dallas returns a starter from last year. Harris is facing competition from new signing, Hernan Grana. Where Harris often struggled, going forward, Grana excels. Grana takes his attacking duties almost too seriously and is prone to roam with the ball. Grana offers composure and experience on the ball, which Harris, with his heavy touch, often lacks. Grana should, like Chala on the left, offer a new attacking option from the fullback position. Grana is expected to be the starter, but Harris starting early in the season would not be surprising, granted Pareja’s affection for him.Either way expect an improvement out of already solid right back play either from a motivated Harris or Grana.
FC Dallas returns the best center back pairing in the league. Fresh off a stint with the US National Team, including a Man of the Match performance against Jamaica, Walker Zimmerman, and the reigning MLS Defender of the Year, Matt Hedges, look to continue their dominating record. The only change is without playmaker Mauro Diaz, Hedges and Zimmerman may be asked to launch splitting through balls to one of Dallas’ pacey attackers. The only negative thing to be said about these two is that it’s possible asking them to try to play long balls out of the back will take some adjustment on their part and could result in some unnecessary turnovers.
It’s hard not to be excited about one of the best defensive units returning all starters and purchasing upgrades at the fullback positions. The future, as well as the present, looks bright for FC Dallas defensively.