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FC Dallas 2019 MLS preview

A new boss, a new system and a team that is ready to prove themselves.

Daniel McCullough

The new season is upon us as FC Dallas heads into 2019 with a new man in charge, a new formation and a renewed outlook in their youth movement. Before we dive into Saturday’s opener with New England, let’s preview where this club has been and where they are going ahead of their 24th season.

How did they finish in 2018?

FC Dallas had a strong season under Oscar Pareja where they finished 16-9-9 with 57 points. They had a shot at the end of the regular season to be one of the top seeds in the Western Conference but ended up fourth where they then lost in the Knockout Round to the Portland Timbers.

What’s new in 2019?/Biggest change from last year?

The biggest change is the new man in charge, Luchi Gonzalez. Aside from the new boss on the sideline, FC Dallas finally brought in a USL League One side to help bridge the gap between the first team and the academy. That should make a massive difference in how they get young Homegrown talent moved up to MLS.

New coach? Who is he?

The new man with the plan is former Academy Director Luchi Gonzalez. The 38-year old is the league’s second-youngest coach. He was a star NCAA striker under former FCD coach Schellas Hyndman at Southern Methodist University, winning the MAC Hermann Trophy, college soccer’s highest individual honor, before being selected by the San Jose Earthquakes in the 2002 SuperDraft. He spent four seasons in MLS before returning to Dallas in 2012 to help launch their academy.

Gonzalez has played a large part in the development of most of the current Homegrown players on the roster, including potential starters in Reggie Cannon and Paxton Pomykal.

Who’s out from last year?

M - Abel Aguilar (11/26/18 - option declined)
D - Jordan Cano (11/26/18 - option declined)
D - Maynor Figueroa (11/26/18 - option declined)
M - Roland Lamah (11/26/18 - option declined)
D - Kris Reaves (11/26/18 - option declined)
F - Adonijah Reid (11/26/18 - option declined)
F - Tesho Akindele (12/9/18 - traded to Orlando)
F - Maxi Urruti (12/9/18 - traded to Montreal)
M - Victor Ulloa (12/12/18 - traded to Cincinnati)
D - Chris Richards (1/24/19 - transferred to Bayern Munich)

FCD lost three regular starters and a couple fringe guys this offseason as they trimmed the fat a good bit. The biggest move, however, has to be transferring Richards to their German partners for a cool sum of $1.5 million (reported).

Who’s in for the new season?

F - Zdenek Ondrasek (12/18/18 - transfer from Wisla Krakow)
D - Bressan (12/21/18 - transfer from Gremio)
M - Bryan Acosta (1/8/19 - transfer from Tenerife)
D - John Nelson (1/11/19 - SuperDraft)
D - Callum Montgomery (1/11/19 - SuperDraft)
M - Edwin Cerrillo (2/14/19 - Homegrown)
F - Dante Sealy (2/26/18 - Homegrown)

Projected starting XI

Gonzalez appears to be set on a new look and formation this year, with a 4-3-3 that saws a #6 in front of the defense with two roaming midfielders above that.

GK: Jesse Gonzalez
LB: Marquinhos Pedroso
CB: Reto Ziegler
CB: Matt Hedges
RB: Reggie Cannon
DM: Carlos Gruezo
CM: Paxton Pomykal
CM: Bryan Acosta
LW: Santiago Mosquera
FW: Dominque Badji
RW: Michael Barrios

What’s the new jersey?

The Reunion Kit was debuted on February 12, at the famous Reunion Tower in Downtown Dallas. Just like a lot of the new secondary kits in MLS this year, it is white. Very white.

Anything new at your existing stadium this year?

Toyota Stadium will finally enjoy having the entire allotment of seats open for the full season for the first time since 2015. The construction of the National Soccer Hall of Fame ended last fall as the new south end portion of the stadium opened in the October to the public.

Aside from some cover on the south end, the food around the stadium is getting a nice facelift with Chick-Fil-A being brought into the stadium (except for on Sundays, of course) and the pricing for most items at the concession stands are getting lowered.

Will this team care about CCL/U.S. Open Cup/Canadian Championship?

Given that they only have one of the three listed to deal with this season, I think we’ll see the same level of ‘care’ for the USOC that we’ve seen in years past. If they’re able to land some home field advantage throughout the tournament, then they’ll definitely care a little more. If not, they’ll throw out a younger squad for a game or two and hope for the best.

What did we learn last season about this team?

They needed this reboot. After two straight fizzles under Oscar Pareja, it was time to see some change both in coaching and on this roster. While no one wanted to see Pareja leave, it was clear that he was ready to move on when the job in Mexico came calling.

Who is THE player to watch on your team, and why?

Daniel McCullough

While a lot of the national focus may be on the young Homegrown players, the main attraction this season should be Santiago Mosquera. The Colombian had a monster preseason, where he was a legit terror on the field each game out. He has now had time to adapt his game to Luchi’s new system, which allows him some additional freedom to cut inside and create from his wing position.

Who’s the player fans will learn to love?

Pick a Homegrown, any Homegrown. Seriously. Fans will love seeing guys that come from the Dallas area and actually lead this team in 2019.

What’s the biggest concern for this season?

The flame out is always a worry but so is health of this team. The depth is still very young and while the “play your youth” motto is always great to have, you want to get young guys minutes when they are earned, not because of injury.

Expectations for 2019?

Even though a lot of the main core of this team is returning for a new season, anytime you bring in a new coach there are going to be some rocky periods. This 34-game slate is a marathon after all, not a sprint. I think for some Dallas fans, they’ll be thrilled to see the team in the playoffs again and this bunch can certainly achieve that.

Personally though, this team should finish no lower than 4th in the Western Conference. But more importantly, I think the expectation has to be that this team doesn’t flame out in the end. Dallas fans have seen this team start too strong over the years only to flame out when it matters most. That hopefully will be different under Gonzalez.