I could’ve titled this “David Ferreira is Back and There is Nothing Else You Need to Know.” Really, I should have. The prospect of having DF10 back in the lineup opens up a world of possibilities for Dallas. The Hoops enter the 2012 season in an attempt to shake off 2011’s late-season blues. With new acquisitions over the summer via transfers and college drafts alike, Dallas should look forward positively into the new season. Gladly, 2012 will see the Hoops out of CCL competition. As much as the Dallas faithful prided themselves on a good run in the interregional competition in 2011, it can easily be said it took quite a toll. FCD lacked depth, and with more fixtures because of the CCL, led to an ultimate dip in league form. Still, Hyndman and company can look forward positively to a less demanding schedule.
Kevin Hartman – “El Gato” will have to keep things tidy between the sticks once again for 2012. The past two seasons have been stellar ones for the evergreen keeper, who has seen 16 years of action in the MLS. Expect the same quality net-minding for 2012.
On the Outside: Chris Seitz, Richard Sanchez
Defense: Key Players
Jair Benitez – an aggressive, pacy, offensive-minded outside back who pushes high and serves well. Occasionally, he’s caught out of position whilst recovering from a marauding run. Other than that, he fits the bill well for the 4-1-4-1 system.
Carlos Rodriguez – an aggressive, pacy, offensive-minded outside back who pushes high, but has played more outside mid than anything during the preseason.
Zack Loyd – an aggressive, pacy, offensive-minded outside back who pushes high, serves well, and is arguably the best right back in the league. He has looked impressive during the FCD preseason (see: BK Hacken match) and will hopefully earn some national team call-ups based on his 2012 form.
Ugo Ihemelu – Speed, size, and a good vertical are all facets of Ugo’s game. Positionally he’s been suspect a couple times during the FCD preseason, one of those being the goal conceded versus BK Hacken. Ugo will lead the back line though, as well as the team, in 2012.
Hernan Pertuz – Ihemelu’s new defensive partner. He has a great vertical, marks well, but still hasn’t forged a solid partnership with Ugo (yet). According to even the FC Dallas website he seems to have immediately taken a backseat with the return of George John.
George John – “Never trust a man with two first names,” a West Ham supporter said in a Facebook forum, in discussion of the acquisition of George John from Dallas. I support West Ham United. I was big on John moving to the Championship, then hopefully the EPL. It seemed inevitable after the Blackburn debacle of 2010. He was easily one of the best center backs in the MLS last season and certainly a player FCD would love to have present in their starting lineup. Questions still abound when his name is mentioned. The acquisitions of Pertuz and Matt Hedges (Superdraft) in the summer were meant to cover for George John. Could he be dealt off soon? This may be the only chance FCD has to gain any value, as his contract is up at the end of 2012. His presence in the back will be a blessing if he is to stay, however. From the looks of it, he will be the starter alongside Ihemelu opening day.
On the Outside: Moises Hernandez, Matt Hedges, Bobby Warshaw
Midfield: Key Players
Brek Shea – What more can be said? He was an MVP candidate in 2011 and has seen solid minutes with the USMNT since September of last year. Klinsmann’s taken a shine to Brek, to say the least. Shea played more minutes, if memory serves me right, than any professional player on earth from September through November last year (CCL – MLS – USMNT). If he returns to his blinding early 2011 form FCD will be a terror to opposing defenses.
Andrew Jacobson – AJ was a surprise to me last year. I didn’t rate him upon his arrival prior to 2011, however, he was a brilliant distributor up until his leg injury mid-season. His ability to shoot from distance is quite good, but his vision and distribution will set him apart from other center-mids in the MLS.
Daniel Hernandez – Dallas’ former captain, Daniel will still be the stalwart in midfield that he has been for two years running. Keeping him healthy will be the real test, as knee problems have plagued his career infrequently. His leadership, however, is unquestionable.
David Ferreira – The epic return of the 2010 MLS MVP means everything to FCD’s season. His creativity, vision, and ability to combine with any and all on the pitch were sorely missed. A healthy David Ferreira gives Dallas every hope of making a strong showing in 2012.
Fabian Castillo – FCD’s Theo Walcott (with a little less speed), Fabian is still the man to beat on the right wing. He has been in outstanding form this preseason, and was definitely the most dangerous Hoops player during the BK Hacken game. His ability to hold the ball and penetrate has improved since he arrived in Dallas last year. Great service will come from Ferreira to Fabian, but the combination to really focus on is with Blas Perez. Fabian’s ability to beat outside backs and cut the ball negatively will be a handful for opposing defenses.
Andrew Wiedeman – He’s had quite a good preseason, finding the back of the net several times (including a four goal match), and assisting just as frequently. Bear in mind that these matches were against college competition. Still, he has made a case to receive more attention and time on the wing than he did during 2011. He is a promising backup for Castillo on the right wing and should see a bit more time.
Ricardo Villar – Albeit he’s the wrong side of 30, Ricardo is a solid distributor and great central midfielder. He provided great cover for David Ferreira’s absence in 2011, but I can see his role being much more limited with DF’s return. Hyndman has experimented with Villar out on the wing, hoping for quality service (which Villar can definitely do) but Ricardo lacks the pace of Shea or Castillo, and it is very evident that he is much more comfortable in the center of midfield.
Bruno Guarda – Apparently disciplinary issues are the only things of note with Bruno this preseason. Due to a violation of team rules his trip to Florida was in jeopardy at one point. He has since apologized (the nature of the infraction still unknown), but is currently working to earn back the team’s trust. One can only assume this will minimize his role in the early stages of 2012.
On the Outside: Bryan Leyva, Victor Ulloa,
Attack: Key Players
Blas Perez – The Panamanian has the potential to be the target forward FCD have lacked since the departure of Kenny Cooper in 2009. Tall and agile, he seems to be the perfect man to be on the receiving end of quality service from David Ferreira, Brek Shea, Zack Loyd, Jair Benitez, and Fabian Castillo. Surely he can put his nose on a few services, right? I’ll go on a limb and predict a haul of 15 goals for Perez this season.
Scott Sealy – The trialist from Trinidad and Tobago netted his share of goals in FCD’s preseason. I estimate his minutes will be found late in the game, hopefully playing well the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer role.
Ruben Luna – An FCD academy product, Luna will be entering his second season with the full side. He netted his first MLS goal last year against San Jose, but was otherwise rarely used and had few chances in front of the net for the first side. Expect limited minutes for Ruben. Hopefully he’ll continue to light up the reserve league, but to grow into the player the Hoops need him to be he’s going to need more minutes with better competition.
On the Outside: Jonathan Top
Overall, the Hoops made promising moves in the offseason and have looked quite good in the preseason. David Ferreira’s return against BK Hacken was a shot in the arm for the squad, as much as the reemergence of George John will be. The health of Brek Shea, David Ferreira, and George John will determine many things for Dallas this season. Creativity will lack without Ferreira. Brek will still face a lot of minutes ahead of him, with the 2012 Olympics and national team duty beckoning. No doubt he will be up for the challenge. There is cover for George John in the form of Pertuz.
Defensively, expect Dallas to be very solid. Hyndman has a solid, veteran goalkeeper and two defenders (Loyd and John) that were both called up to national team duty this year. Hernan Pertuz is a Columbian U-23 national team captain. Ugo Ihemelu is a well-seasoned captain and has performed solidly in the preseason. Reliable anchors in the center of the back will allow only for more attacking options from like-minded outside backs, Loyd and Benitez.
In the middle of the park the Hoops find themselves relatively unchanged. Brek is back and fresh. David Ferreira is on the verge of regaining his MVP form. Fabian Castillo has reemerged on the right flank and has been lethal to opposing defenses in the past month. Andrew Jacobson and Daniel Hernandez provide size, distribution, and ball-winning prowess in the middle, which allows more freedom for DF10, Castillo, and Brek to push higher and attack more freely.
Up top, Blas Perez could have a stellar season given the amount of marksmen providing for him. Maicon Santos was seen as a failure in 2011 because he simply didn’t finish. The Hoops were begging for a quality finisher up top, and may now have him. Look for the key combinations of Ferreira-Castillo-Perez and Ferreira-Shea-Perez to be regular patterns of attack. His relationship with David Ferreira could be the most profitable, as DF10 tends to drop a ball wherever he sees fit. Also, do not be surprised by the occasional tactical change to a 4-4-2. It was used frequently in the preseason. The change was partially to address the absence of David Ferreira. However, it’s crucial to have a second formation in reserve should the circumstances of the opposition require it. Brek Shea and Fabian Castillo are likely candidates to go alongside Perez in the 4-4-2. Regardless of the formation, goals could easily proliferate with the cache of attacking prospects for the Hoops in 2012.
Still, doesn’t having David Ferreira back make everything better?
Odds and Ends:
- Photographic evidence of the return of George John, looking more like Clark Kent every passing day. He was taught at West Ham not to look directly at manager Sam Allardyce, or any manager for that matter, for fear of going blind.
- Brek Shea is on the cover of the newest edition of Eastbay.
- Der Amerikanische nationaltrainer Jurgen Klinsmann will be in Frisco to scarf-up Uncle Lamar on opening day versus the Red Bulls (Check out: Jurgen Klinsmann fussball-got. Why is this not played before every USMNT match? Every time I catch him smiling on the sidelines I imagine him humming it to himself).
- FCD have a new, superb set of kits for the 2012 season. Let the Bayern 2008 kit comparisons abound. Still, they look awesome. I’m not going to lie: I don’t like the new away kits.
Did I mention that David Ferreira’s back?
Mon the Hoops.
(image courtesy of fcdallas.com)