When FC Dallas and Toronto FC take the field this Saturday, there’s a good chance the most used word on the broadcast will be “new.” New coaches, new key players, new game plans, just in time for a new season.
After a lackluster 2021 season, FC Dallas spent the winter investing into the roster and putting together a team that could warrant optimism. The addition of Paul Arriola, Marco Farfan, Nanu, and Maarten Paes will make an impact immediately when the team takes the pitch on Saturday with each likely to start.
Along with the new faces, some old faces are taking on different roles. Jesus Ferreira returns to his original 9 role to replace Ricardo Pepi and Paxton Pomykal moves inside from the wing to an attacking midfield role. Both moves just make sense. After spending some time with the USMNT, Ferreira should feel comfortable up top and cement himself as the main goal scorer on the team. Pomykal never felt quite at peace on the wing and can return to a role where he can dictate more of the game and capitalize on the chemistry he’s built with Ferreira. Expect a more comfortable attack from a team that sometimes struggled to find the back of the net last season.
The backline, however, seems poised to be more of a question mark. Once again anchored by Matt Hedges, new signees Farfan and Nanu take the outside back roles in hopes to improve a defense that gave up the most goals in the West last season. How quickly they gel will likely depend on how hot of a start FC Dallas gets this season. In goal, expect former Dutch youth international Paes while Jimmy Mauer fully recovers from a minor injury.
On the opposite side of the ball, our friends north of the border have no lack of newness themselves. 2019 MLS Coach of the Year Bob Bradley takes the reigns for his first regular-season game as manager of Toronto FC. He’ll be without longtime Toronto FC icon Jozy Altidore as Altidore left the team after seven seasons to join New England Revolution. While Toronto made a massive move bringing in Lorenzo Insigne to fill that role, he doesn’t arrive until July and won’t cause any issues for FC Dallas in this matchup. Toronto does, however, have a new weapon on defense with the addition of Carlos Salcedo from Tigres UANL. Salcedo looks to tighten up a defense that gave up the second-most goals in the MLS last season.
Dallas comes into this one having won four of their last five matchups with Toronto. However, this seems to be a new age for both clubs and those games are in the past. Expect Toronto to come in motivated and ready to prove a point as they transition into the Bob Bradley era. Likewise, expect FC Dallas to come in and prove that the singings were not a bust but did in fact make them a strong playoff contender from the go. Throw in some potential wet weather and this ought to be entertaining peek into what each side has in store this year. Salcedo will take some time to gel with his backline and FC Dallas’s new offensive options will be eager to find the back of the net.
Prediction: FC Dallas 2-1 Toronto FC
How to Watch:
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Frisco TX
Kickoff Time: Saturday, February 26th. 4:30 PM CST
Available TV: TXA 21 Dallas
Available Streaming: FCDallas.com, ESPN+
Available Radio: 1270AM