FC Dallas 2016 Season Review
What Went Right
The first thing that went right for the Frisco, TX based club was a series of offseason acquisitions that bolstered the squad. Pareja and the front office fortified an already successful team built on youth with Ecuadorian midfield talent Carlos Gruezo. They added internationally proven experience by signing Maynor Figueroa and Mauro Rosales. Finally, they added another goalscorer to their ranks by acquiring Maxi Urruti from Portland. All four players made key contributions to Dallas’ success this season.
The second thing that went right was the continued emergence of 25-year-old playmaker and team captain Mauro Díaz. The Argentine designated player finished the season with 13 assists and five goals. Although those numbers don’t jump off the page, Díaz was the heartbeat of the team and everything excellent Dallas did was graced by his deft touch.
The successes above culminated in a fantastic regular season where they won the West for a second consecutive year and claimed silverware. Their 4-2 victory over the New England Revolution in July earned FC Dallas their first trophy in 19 years, the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Their consistent play also saw them lay hands on the coveted MLS Supporters’ Shield on the last day of the regular season. The team also advanced to the knockout stages of the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time in club history. FC Dallas’ 2016 season was truly chock-full of accomplishments.
What Went Wrong
The obvious improvement Pareja can make this offseason is the addition of a proven striker (in fact many were calling for that move last year). Maxi Urruti is a functional forward and performed well in 2016. But Dallas struggled offensively at times and the addition of more firepower makes sense. Fabian Castillo’s transfer to Trabzonspor is officially a loan so they need to resolve if that move will become permanent and look for replacement options if he’s not returning.
Dallas’ eyes will also be focused on Mauro Díaz in the offseason as he recovers from a serious energy. The time table for his return is up to eight months, so the team may be without him for the first few month’s of next year’s MLS season.
The back line is solid but depth is a question mark, especially at center back. If Matt Hedges or Walker Zimmerman go down with an extended injury, it could spell trouble in 2017. Signings to provide depth in this area seem sensible. Pareja likes to give opportunities to youth players when possible, so he’s sure to look internally before going out on the market.
Óscar Pareja is earning a reputation as one of the most astute managers and team builders in MLS. Odds are good that he and his young, talented squad will again compete at the top of MLS’ standings within reach of silverware in 2017.