The MLS season is all but upon us. The marathon that is the MLS season seems like more of a sprint in the first month of the campaign than anything else. We spray wrinkle remover on our jerseys, knock the dust off of our scarves and even update our twitter followers, taking risks on some people who probably don’t deserve the follow. We do all this to feed the hungry animal inside of us that is screaming for information and interaction revolving around our club and league.
So, as we prepare for the new season, it seemed like a good time to go over some very detail predictions for this year’s campaign.
Midseason attendance debate
To clarify, I’m referencing on Big D Soccer. It would be easy to use any platform to guess right on this. Especially since any FC Dallas discussion on r/MLS turns into an attendance debate four comments in. Last year we were all graced with an attendance debate when Kenny from the 19th Minute podcast (great podcast, you should listen to it) posted a fan article, titled, ‘DFW Doesn’t Deserve a MLS Franchise.’ The article blew up and people were fervently debating about the attendance, stadium location, long food lines, lack of beer options (which I support), not spending enough on players and so on and so on.
It was a huge deal in our little corner of the internet and I expect it to show up again this year. At some point in the dog days of summer, someone will post an article and the fears, frustrations and insecurities from FCD fans will show up again. We will pick up our pitchforks and start typing away at our computers. It will be a blast, we will get exhausted and then it will go away for another year.
We will get El Capitán back
Aside from not winning MLS Cup, the second biggest frustration (on the field) of the 2016 season has to be losing the Texas Derby to Houston; followed closely by Timo Pitter not getting more minutes. Am I right!?. El Capitán sadly returned to the Dynamo on goal differential and is probably begging to come back home. I mean Houston reportedly was smelling like a porta-pottie last month. Who would want to live there?
Last year, Houston managed to win seven games all season. One of those was the 5-0 thrashing they gave FC Dallas early in the season. Remember that match, the one with own goals, no set piece defending, and just an overall Bad News Bears feel? Well that was more or less the highlight of Houston’s season last year. Even though they have turned over a majority of the roster coming into this season, the Dynamo still don’t seem ready to make a big jump into the heart of the West. Dynamo Theory had a good article spelling out the issues that still face the Houston team this year.
It is true, the Dynamo aren’t very good, but that won’t prevent the rivalry from being tightly fought. However, even with a little banter from new Houston Dynamo player, AJ De La Garza, they don’t have enough players on the field to keep up and I expect that El Capitán will be in it’s proper place at season’s end.
Sidenote: Why don’t you worry about helping your team get to double digit wins instead of us not winning MLS Cup. It’s kind of hard for us to focus on your comments right now since we are in the final four of CONCACAF Champions League, bud.
I’m betting this year that Maynor Figueroa will get at least two red cards and Carlos Gruezo will miss at least one match due to yellow card accumulation. Last year, Maynor had seven yellow cards and one red card. If you remember correctly, the straight red he got was in the midweek match in Seattle where he prevented the ball, with his hand, from going in the match. I believe that was the game where FCD played a rotated roster due to a USOC match and Kasey Keller just couldn’t get over how disrespectful it was for Oscar Pareja to not play his full lineup against the mighty Seattle Sounders.
Looking ahead to this year, I expect Maynor to get at least two red cards. This isn’t due to him being a dirty player but more about him being willing to do to the dirty work down the flanks. Maynor has never been one to shy away from tackles and that trend will definitely continue this year. I see him getting caught out a couple of times, thinking he can make the play and ending up getting sent off. I might be frustrated in the moment about it, but I could never hate Maynor for being the player he is.
Last year Carlos Gruezo picked up nine yellow cards. The majority of his yellows came in the early months of the season. It took him a little while to figure out how the refs manage the matches in MLS. Once he did, his accumulation rate seemed to drastically fall off. Coming into this year, the squad looks more poised to running a more possession based offense. As a result, teams will be looking at hitting FCD on the break and counter. Even if Carlos isn’t making rash/dangerous challenges and tackles I do figure he will pick up some yellow cards by stopping counters and fast breaks.
To be clear, I don’t think there is anything wrong with Carlos, or even Maynor, playing an aggressive brand of football. Too many times in the past, people have said that FCD teams are soft and able to be pushed around. I honestly don’t feel as if this team is that soft, but it’s nice to have players who make that clear out on the field.
No matter how this season ends, The Hunt’s won’t be off the hook
There is a weird dynamic around the FC Dallas organization where every fault of the club falls at the feet of the Hunts. Last year, the team won two out of three trophies and the reason they didn’t win a third was, apparently, because Dan Hunt didn’t do enough. In fact, I saw it said that the team won it’s trophies last year in spite of the Hunt’s. To be clear, the reason why FC Dallas didn’t advance in MLS Cup is because 1. MLS Playoffs are tough. 2. Mauro Diaz was out. 3. MLS Playoffs are tough.
To put the blame on Dan Hunt seems pretty ridiculous.
Looking ahead to this year, I don’t see that much changing with that sort of mindset. It’s a lot harder to point blame at someone or something instead of realizing that this league is really hard to win MLS Cup in and gets more and more difficult every year. I honestly think FC Dallas will have a great showing this year and will have another successful season. Do we win MLS Cup, I don’t know. It all comes down to how well Mauro is playing as well as matchups. But, the success of this team falls at the players and coaches feet now, as it has for the past couple of years.
Lastly, why does anyone have to be blamed for not winning MLS Cup? Sometimes it’s just another team was better on that day than you. There’s nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, some people don’t see it that way, and thus, next November, we will have to read through articles/comments/posts about how this year falls on the Hunts, again.
The Supporters Groups don’t get enough credit
No disrespect to the other groups, but I’m mainly talking about Dallas Beer Guardians, El Matador and Lone Star Legion. The amount of work they do with and for the fans is incredible. Without them, the stadium would be quiet and feel more like a Rangers baseball game than anything else. You could get claps at the proper times and maybe a random chant here and there, but it wouldn’t be the same.
The craziest thing about the supporters groups to me is the amount of time they spend outside of game days preparing. I saw on Twitter that DBG is already starting to paint the Tifo for the home opener in the middle of March. That’s insane. There dedication to the team and it’s fans is outstanding and we are lucky to have them.
So, if you see one of the leaders of DBG, LSL or even EM, go shake their hands, give them hug or even buy them a beer and thank them for the amount of work they do on behalf of the team that we all love.
The season is almost here. It’s so close that we can almost taste it. As we rush around Saturday morning getting our honey-do lists finished, keep in mind that this is a long season and CCL is top priority. That’s not say to the LA Galaxy are going to take us to the whipping shed or anything (I honestly think LAG are ripe for the picking), but keep it in perspective. This is a marathon so enjoy it. We all want to get back to November to have another shot in the playoffs, but we have to get there first. So, recline your chair, get your bowl of snacks, a cold drink and enjoy the ride.