2016 was a year of triumph for FC Dallas. After securing a solitary trophy in the form of the U.S. Open Cup in 1997, 2016 ended the trophy drought with the club hauling a double (Supporters' Shield and U.S. Open Cup) for their efforts. It was by far the most successful campaign in FC Dallas history.
Despite the success, there remained a sense of unfinished business over the offseason due to the early knockout from the playoffs. Oscar Pareja and the players have already stated that the goal for 2017 is to take care of that unfinished business and go for MLS Cup.
FCD reloaded their squad with even more talent in the form of Cristian Colman, Anibal Chala, and Roland Lamah. MLS veteran Javier Morales will provide cover while Mauro Diaz is out with his injury. But the depth of the squad will be filled by recent academy graduates, and it will be a bumpy ride for the team as they're worked into the lineup throughout the season.
2016 record: 17-8-9, First in West
2016 playoffs: Lost to Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference semifinals
Head coach: Oscar Pareja
Key additions: Cristian Colman, Roland Lamah, Anibal Chala, Javier Morales, Hernan Grana, Reggie Cannon
Key losses: Zach Loyd
Projected starting XI (4-4-2): Chris Seitz; Anibal Chala, Walker Zimmerman, Matt Hedges, Atiba Harris; Roland Lamah, Carlos Gruezo, Kellyn Acosta, Michael Barrios; Maxi Urruti, Cristian Colman
Major trophies won, all-time: 2016 Supporters’ Shield; 2016 Open Cup; 1997 Open Cup
What we think of our team: We're the darlings of MLS right now and we'll challenge for CONCACAF Champions League and MLS Cup this year.
What outsiders think of our team: “FC Dallas was the best team in MLS from March to November last year, and they've added a DP striker and have someone to cover for Mauro Diaz's absence. They can win in a bunch of different ways, they have multiple viable formations, and they're deep all over the field. The team to beat, for sure.”
FC Dallas’ biggest rival: Houston, for the pride of Texas and a sweet cannon. This rivalry is obvious because of geography, but it intensified to epic proportions nearly 10 years ago when Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark took aim and kicked Carlos Ruiz while he was on the ground. Dallas fans would never forget that incident, which is marked as the most infamous moment in the Texas Derby history.
Our season hinges on … the health and return of playmaker Mauro Diaz. If he comes back from a torn Achilles to full strength, we're challenging for MLS Cup. If not, we'll have a loud bark but no bite in attack, so to speak.
Why this year won’t be like last year: Oscar Pareja and the players have already stated that MLS Cup is the target this year. By all indications, it sounds like he's ready to put some regular season games in jeopardy to give the younger players minutes, and he must be taken at his word as the MLS coach who already hands out more minutes to young homegrown players in real games than anybody else. As a result, we won't challenge for the Supporters’ Shield like we did in 2015 and 2016.
Key player: Mauro Diaz. The stated goal is MLS Cup. If Diaz returns at full strength, that goal is absolutely realistic.
Projected finish in 2017: First in the Western Conference.
Wild prediction: FC Dallas becomes the first MLS team to win CONCACAF Champions League in the current format.