The 25th season for FC Dallas is almost here. As one of the league originals, FC Dallas takes the field in 2020 with a lot of familiar faces and Luchi Gonzalez looks to lead them in his season year as manager.
How did they finish in 2019?
FC Dallas finished seventh overall in the Western Conference with a 13-12-9 record, 48 points. They took on the eventual MLS Cup winners Seattle in the playoffs, where they took them to extra time in a thrilling 4-3 loss.
What did we learn last season about this team?
It may have taken some time for first year head coach Luchi Gonzalez to really get the most out of his squad but once he did the team did pretty well. They were tough as nails at home while they struggled to find a positive path on the road. At the end of it though, playing one of the youngest squads in MLS playoff history against the team that eventually won it, with the way they played gives Dallas fans a lot of hope for the future.
What’s the new jersey?
The “Legacy Kit” debuted earlier this month at the league’s fashion show in New York City. The fan-favorite hoops have returned with a bit of a twist, instead of white they are now blue.
When the kit is paired with blue shorts, it really stands out as one of the best kits the club has released in some time.
Who’s the coach?
Luchi Gonzalez returns for his second season as head coach to the club. He certainly had some rookie bumps along the way in 2019 but he achieved a team goal of reaching the playoffs, which was something to be said given how young the team was in 2019.
FC Dallas shredded some dead weight (Edwin Gyasi) and big contracts (oddly enough Edwin Gyasi again...dude was on loan but was said to be making $719,225 in total compensation), and also picked up some allocation money through some trades as well.
The club also wasted no time this season in getting another season-long loan for Pablo Aranguiz too.
- F - Cristian Colman (10/29/19 - option declined)
- M - Edwin Gyasi (10/29/19 - option declined)
- D - Moises Hernandez (10/29/19 - option declined)
- M - Eric Alexander (10/29/19 - out of contract)
- F - Dominique Badji (12/2/19 - traded to Nashville)
- M - Pablo Aranguiz (12/30/19 - loaned to Universidad de Chile)
- M - Jacori Hayes (1/21/20 - traded to Minnesota)
This was one of those winters that saw very little movement in. FCD still has a couple of open roster slots that they can fill with either signing another one of their SuperDraft picks (Cal Jennings) or another potential Homegrown player (like Tanner Tessman or someone like that).
Still, adding players like Santos and Jara appear on paper to be extremely smart moves that should pay off this season. Same could be said about Picault, a winger that fits Gonzalez’s system much better than Gyasi, Badji or Aranguiz.
- F - Fafa Picault (11/26/19 - trade from Philadelphia)
- M - Thiago Santos (12/5/19 - transfer from Palmeiras)
- D - Eddie Munjoma (1/13/20 - Homegrown)
- D - Nkosi Bugess (2/18/20 - SuperDraft)
- F - Franco Jara (7/7/20 - free)
How much will this roster change after the season starts?
We may see one or two loans of players to go along with the ones that have already been done in the preseason (Callum Montgomery to San Antonio and Francis Atauhene to San Diego).
Unless some serious injuries happen or a player opts to leave early on in the season for medical or family reasons, there really shouldn’t be a ton of turnover once things get going. We could see that change once we hit the summer though with potential transfers for guys like Reggie Cannon.
Also in the summer, we know Jara will join the club at some point once he finishes up his contract in Monterrey (the club is hoping to work out a deal that gets him to Frisco sooner, rather than the summer transfer window time). Since FCD still has a couple of open roster slots, we could see them hold off an wait to add reinforcements at this stage in the season.
What’s new in 2020?
Aside from the new faces, there really isn’t a lot of turnover to the roster in 2020. Gonzalez and company will still need to find a way to get good results away from Frisco, while maintaining that home field advantage as much as possible. The biggest challenge at the end of the day will retaining some of their young stars from prying clubs overseas and players from getting hit by the injury bug for long stretches of time.
Who is THE player to watch on your team, and why?
This could very well be the big coming out party for Jesus Ferreira in 2020. He showed well in 2019 as a regular starter both as a center forward and as the clubs #10 in the midfield. Last year’s play earned him a fat new contract that runs for a few seasons. He is already saying how he wants to bring home a title to Dallas too.
In a way, Gonzalez has given him the keys to the attack and is letting him run with it. So far this preseason, he’s shown his ability to score again (he was also the club’s leading scorer in 2019) and his distribution looks to be on point as well.
The crazy part is that he is still only 19-years old. Just 19!
What’s the one storyline you’ll be following?
For me, 2020 will continue to be how this club progresses with the style and youthfulness that Gonzalez wants to use. If they can continue to win at home the way they have over the years, and find ways to pick up at least three or four more road wins in 2020, this team will certainly be in the hunt for hosting a playoff game come October.
If I had to pick a second one to watch, it would be the potential sale of Cannon.
What’s the biggest concern for this season?
Given how Gonzalez wants to play this team, injuries and international call-ups are always going to be a bit of a concern. So far this preseason there have been a number of new injuries that have popped up, to key players too (Brandon Servania, Bryan Acosta and Matt Hedges all missing time this preseason). While FCD does have the depth right now to deal with it - not to mention as well how Gonzalez has no issues playing younger players down the depth charts too - you do still wonder if the younger group can keep healthy for the long haul in 2020.
How will the summer tournaments impact the squad?
Right now we could see this roster look drastically different once the Olympics and Euros begin. FCD could see Servania, Ferreira and Paxton Pomykal all depart for the Olympics this summer. But it all becomes a big ‘if’ on the Olympic front should the United States not qualify.
On the other hand, Zdenek Ondrasek could also see time with the Czech Republic and their quest at the 2020 Euros. And we could see Cannon, Ferreira, Pomykal, Servania and potentially Jesse Gonzalez all get minutes this year with the United States men’s national team for their various FIFA dates.
Projected ideal XI
Gonzalez loves to roll out a 4-3-3 type look each week, though he has tinkered with a 3-5-2 a bit in preseason play this year. Once everyone is healthy and available, the regular lineup most weeks will look like this:
The big question will come down to where Pomykal fits into things. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him end up as an option at left wing as Gonzalez looks to get him on the field more.
Expectations for 2020?
This isn’t totally a MLS Cup or bust kind of year but in a way those should be the expectations for this club. They’re returning so much talent and depth from the previous year and they kind of have a schedule that should help them out in the long run (no international tournaments like Leagues’ Cup or Champions League to deal with).
At the end of the day, the minimal expectations need to see this club get to at least the semifinal in the US Open Cup, while earning enough points to at least host a playoff game. From there, I think a solid enough run in the playoffs would excite fans enough as we know all bets can be off once you get into the playoffs and all of those one game, do-or-die scenarios come out.