FC Dallas looks to move past a disastrous ending to the 2017 campaign. No team had ever faltered the way they did last year. Everything seemed to be going against the team, and it was unclear as to when the bleeding would stop. Numerous off-season moves and changes have fans wondering if the worst is now behind them. The FC Dallas 2018 season will be one with more hope than anything.
FC Dallas 2018: CCL Diaster – Salvaging a Point Against RSL
Oscar Pareja and company had a very busy off-season. Changes had to be made. Numerous overseas scouting trips later, Dallas fans were welcoming new faces. Anton Nedyalkov and Reto Ziegler were unfamiliar names that are now bolstering a new-look Dallas back line. Homegrown defender Reggie Cannon would be starting at right back, leaving Matt Hedges as the only starting defender from last season. Players wouldn’t have long to play together, as CONCACAF Champions League was on the horizon.
CONCACAF Champions League Fallout
Dallas faced a familiar foe in Tauro FC in the round of 16 of the CONCACAF Champions League. Several preseason scrimmages really didn’t show too much confidence in the Dallas side, especially when it looked like they were experimenting with a new formation. They traveled to Panama for a mid-week February match up with the Panamanian side. Again, confidence seemed to be lacking, despite a few good chances in the match. Dallas eventually gave up a soft goal on a corner and would return home down 1-0.
The return leg would also be played midweek, on a weather-worried Wednesday in Frisco, TX. Dallas came out in a 3-5-2 formation for the first time, and it did not work. A horrible lapse in judgment left a weak back-pass open for a Tauro breakaway and put Dallas down 2-0 on aggregate in the 1st half. Dallas would have to make a change early to push forward more, but Tauro still stood strong. It all seemed over when Tauro scored a second, but Dallas clawed back. Mother nature would release her fury in the 80th minute, and a torrential downpour ensued. Super sub Cristian Colman came on in the rain, and would even the aggregate score 3-3 on a header, but it would end that way and Tauro was through on away goals. It was a shock to the MLS world and a horrible start to competition play for the 2018 season for Dallas.
FC Dallas 1 – Real Salt Lake 1
Just three days after their fallout from CCL competition, Dallas would host Real Salt Lake in the 2018 MLS opening match. Dallas would revert back their normal 4-2-3-1 formation and would see newcomer Jacori Hayes starting in the midfield over Victor Ulloa. More of an attacking midfield option, Hayes saw decent minutes in the preseason and looks primed to make a difference in Dallas.
Right off the bat, you could tell both sides were looking to play off the counter. The always dangerous Joao Plata would draw first blood and put RSL up 1-0 inside 30 minutes. A quick push through the middle by RSL caught Dallas on their heels. Dallas’ right back Reggie Cannon got sucked inside and left Plata with acres of space on the left as he was played through the back line. Cannon would catch up to him, but Plata deftly cut the ball back inside the 18-yard box and slotted home the opening goal.
Veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando would make some fantastic saves throughout the match. Over and over again, Barrios would find his way through, but Rimando was there to clean up. Dallas would go into halftime trailing 1-0.
Dallas would be on the front foot most of the match, with great chances in both halves. Mauro Diaz and Michael Barrios looked dangerous the entire match, but could never convert. It would take a last-minute disaster for Dallas to get on the board. In the 86th minute, a scrap deep in the RSL half would find Maxi Urruti on the ball. As he typically does in the final third, he drove into the box past two defenders and ripped a cross into the six-yard box. RSL defender Marcelo Silva didn’t have much time to react, and his half-clearance ended up in his own net. The match would end 1-1, and surely both teams felt a bit unfortunate to not get all three points.
Dallas will take the next week off, and prepare for a tough second fixture against the Seattle Sounders on March 18th. The Texas side will need to capitalize on their chances if they want to earn points against an always strong Seattle side.