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2021 FC Dallas season preview

A new season is here with a lot of promise for FC Dallas.

The start of a new season is finally here. FC Dallas was outed in the MLS Cup playoffs last December and the offseason gave way to some new faces on the roster, with the exit of some familiar faces.

FC Dallas - 2020 record: 9W-7D-6L, 34 points, 6th in Western Conference, lost in Conference semifinals

Head coach: Luchi Gonzalez (third year as manager)

Key additions:

  • GK - Phelipe Megiolaro (12/21/20 - re-acquired on loan from Gremio)
  • D - Jose Antonio Martinez (12/21/20 - transfer from SD Eibar)
  • F - Jader Obrian (12/22/20 - transfer from Rionegra Aguilas)
  • F - Kalil ElMedkhar (1/14/21 - homegrown rights acquired from Union)
  • F - Freddy Vargas (1/15/21 - loan from Deportivo Lara)
  • M - Nicky Hernandez (3/23/21 - 2021 SuperDraft selection)
  • F - Szabolcs Schön (4/7/21 - signing from MTK Budapest)

Key losses:

  • F - Francis Atuahene (12/7/20 - option declined)
  • M - Santiago Mosquera (12/7/20 - option declined)
  • D - Reto Ziegler (12/7/20 - out of contract)
  • D - Callum Montgomery (12/13/20 - trade with Minnesota United)
  • F - Fafa Picault (12/17/20 - traded to Houston Dynamo)
  • M - Michael Barrios (1/13/21 - traded to Colorado)
  • D - Bryan Reynolds (2/1/21 - transfer to AS Roma)
  • M - Brandon Servania (2/9/21 - loan to SKN St. Polten)
  • D - Justin Che (2/12/21 - loan to Bayern Munich)
  • M - Thiago Santos (4/1/21 - transfer to Gremio)

Projected Best XI (4-3-3):

So far this preseason Gonzalez has rolled out a couple of different lineups and formations. Generally he will stick with a 4-3-3 type look that will focus on the fullbacks getting forward into the attack and depending on who is starting, either a double or single pivot in the midfield behind a playmaker.

GK: Jimmy Maurer

Defense: John Nelson, Matt Hedges, Jose Martinez, Ryan Hollingshead

Midfield: Tanner Tessmann, Bryan Acosta, Andres Ricaurte

Forward: Jader Obrien, Franco Jara, Freddy Vargas

Best offseason move: This is really a wait-and-see moment on some of these moves but between how the club trimmed the fat on some contracts with letting go of guys like Ziegler, Mosquera and to some extent Barrios and Picault, FC Dallas was able to go out and get younger at some key places on the field while also maintaining their identity.

If we base this purely off of what is coming in and how they preformed in the preseason, it could come down to Vargas and Obrien. Both have found plenty of time in the lineups early on for Gonzalez and are contributing at a solid rate against some MLS competition in Austin and Houston. If they both continue what they’ve started in the regular season and find a way not to burn out (no pun intended) in the summer heat, the argument could be made for one of them to be in the MLS Newcomer of the Year discussion.

Reasons to be worried about FC Dallas: It is going to come down to a couple of things for this group, either the health ends up not being there over the long run or the offense runs dry for long stretches. For guys like Paxton Pomykal, health is going to be a large factor again this season as he looks to regain his 2019 form. On the other end, Dallas really needs guys like Franco Jara, Ricardo Pepi, Jesus Ferreira, Obrien, and Vargas to not go cold for long stretches together. If that happens, this team will struggle to compete in a crowded Western Conference.

Why FC Dallas are worth watching: Normally it would be the Homegrown players and which ones will be next up. But after transfers for Reggie Cannon and Bryan Reynolds last season, it appears that while the pipeline of academy talent is still there for FC Dallas it may be their young South American talent that is more intriguing this season to keep an eye out on. Jadar Obrian lead scoring in the Columbian top flight last year, while Freddy Vargas appears to be a dead-ball specialist on the wing that the club has lacked since the departure of veteran defender Reto Ziegler. If they can tie it all together with the Homegrowns like Jesus Ferreira, Tanner Tessmann, Ricardo Pepi and a returning Paxton Pomykal, this club could make some series noise in MLS.