Owners of 2007’s last Western Conference playoff spot, FC Dallas made great strides with a very young team. They ended the regular season with thirteen wins, five draws, and twelve losses, but they safely qualified for the playoffs and were seeded fifth.
The US Open Cup is usually a great competition for young players, and FC Dallas took full advantage, making it to the final before losing 3-2 to New England. However, New England was the only MLS team they faced in the competition. Dallas did have to beat two of the top teams from USL-1 (American second division) to make it to the final, including the champion Seattle Sounders.
FC Dallas lost some key players, including Brazilian legend Denilson, Trinidad and Tobago’s national team goalkeeper Shaka Hislop (retired), and last year’s leading scorer Carlos RuÃz. However, Duilio Davino signed from Club América, and André Rocha was obtained on loan from FC Dallas’ Brazilian partners, Clube Atletico Paranaense.
In a team filled with young players, thirty-three year-old goalkeeper DarÃo Sala will provide a voice of leadership from the back. Colombia U-21 international Juan Toja will have to continue his successful run in the midfield to create and score goals for the Hoops.
Keys to success
With a team this young, it’s all about the learning experiences. Most of the team were around last season too, and they grew greatly in the thirty-nine competitive matches they were involved in. They must continue learning, and do so quickly, to give FC Dallas a chance in any major competitions this year.
FC Dallas also need to look for another goal-scorer since the departure of RuÃz. While Toja scored six goals compared to RuÃz’s seven last season, Toja is a midfield player, and should look to create more than score.
Back to the 2008 MLS Season Preview.