FC Dallas 2016 Season Review

Spread the love
Despite a disappointing early exit from the MLS Cup playoffs, 2016 was clearly the most successful season in FC Dallas’ 21-year history. Oscar Pareja’s youth laden team entered 2016 season on the heels of a successful campaign. In 2015, they topped the Western Conference and made it to the Conference Finals before losing to the eventual champion Portland Timbers. In 2016, they set their sights on trophies and hit the target.

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

Although the 2016 season was a success by almost any standard, clearly not everything went FC Dallas’ way.
2016 was tainted by key personnel losses at inopportune moments of the season. Colombian winger Fabián Castillo forced a controversial loan move to Turkish side Trabzonspor in August leaving the team short of attacking options for the business end of the season. More importantly, talisman Mauro Díaz suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in October, leaving Pareja scrambling to compensate in the playoffs.
Although they won 17 games this season, FC Dallas was on the receiving end of some heavy away defeats, especially early in the season.
5-0 at Houston Dynamo – March 12
3-0 at Vancouver Whitecaps – April 23
4-0 at New York Red Bulls – April 29th
5-0 at Sounders – July 18
3-0 at Sounders in MLS Cup Playoffs – October 30
Although the Texas club avoided this kind of result late in the regular season, it reappeared at the worst possible time, in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals. In the space of eight devastating minutes, the Seattle Sounders scored three goals and eclipsed FC Dallas’ chances of a second leg comeback. Their MLS Cup run and their quest for a historical treble came to an abrupt end in the following match.

Off-season Plan

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.