Eric Hassli, Kenny Cooper make FC Dallas' frontline very formidable

Drew Hallowell

Combined with FC Dallas' dynamic midfield, this could be a very interesting season.

In the span of a few hours, FC Dallas dramatically remade their attack. First, they formally announced that Eric Hassli had been acquired in a trade with Toronto FC. Then, in more of a surprise move, they revealed that Kenny Cooper had also been picked up in a trade with the New York Red Bulls.

The big-bodied forwards have combined for 41 goals and 12 assists over the past two seasons and all it cost Dallas was a second-round pick and allocation money (rumored to be about $200,000).

What had been one of the thinest positions on the team suddenly becomes one the deepest, as those two will likely form some kind of rotation with Blas Perez. In his first year in MLS, Perez had nine goals and four assists despite injuries limiting him to just 20 appearances.

One way or another, Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo seems intent on getting more production than he got out of a position that only produced four goals outside of what Perez gave them.

While generating goals from the forward position shouldn't be as big of a problem, this seems like it might be a bit of overkill.

Head coach Schellas Hyndman will surely change from the 4-2-3-1 that was the standard setup whenever David Ferreira was healthy. But all signs suggest he's going to go with more of a 4-4-2, with Ferreira at the top of the diamond. That means one of Cooper, Hassli or Perez will almost always be on the bench.

Having that kind of depth is great, but in this case it does seem like using a bazooka when a standard issue sidearm would be acceptable. Even if Toronto FC is paying enough of Hassli's salary to keep him from being a DP, chances are he's still hitting the cap at around $300,000. Assuming both Perez and Cooper got pretty standard raises, their combined cap hit should be around $630,000. With the team's salary cap at $2.95 million, that means more than 30 percent of the team's budget is wrapped up in three players at the same position. Although none of them are technically DPs, they'll hit the cap almost as hard.

What even makes this feasible, though, is the transfer of Brek Shea. Even though the final amount was closer to $4 million than $6 million, FC Dallas still netted the maximum $650,000 in allocation money. While MLS rules aren't entirely clear if that money can be used to pay down the cap hit of a new player who was already under contract, that money can definitely be used on any newly signed players.

The bigger question is how will they work together?

From the outside looking in, no combination of the two seems like a natural fit. All three have seen the most success as more of target-forward types and been paired with smaller, faster running mates. More likely, this sets up as a classic two-striker formation. While that's a formation with plenty of success, it does put a lot more of the creative onus on the midfield.

It's a good thing that Dallas seems well-equipped in that department. The creative engine will be David Ferreira, who's likely to be at the top of the midfield diamond. He'll be flanked by 20-year-old Fabian Castillo and Brazilian Jackson.

Ferreira managed two goals and nine assists despite only playing about half the season while recovering from injuries. Jackson had four goals and seven assists after missing the first third of the campaign while on loan. Castillo is coming off a year in which he scored six goals and added three assists despite playing several different positions.

Considering all them missed at least eight games and only had one legitimate forward to pass to, those 19 combined assists are all the more impressive.

Looks like it will be an interesting year in Big D.

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