FC Dallas: Time to Countdown to Opening Day!

Kellyn Acosta and FC Dallas look forward to an amazing 2014!
Kellyn Acosta and FC Dallas look forward to an amazing 2014! Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By Will Martin

It has been quite a blur of a five month stretch from the final game of 2013 for the team of FC Dallas. It was on October 19th of 2013 that FC Dallas ended the season with a victory over the Seattle Sounders in what would ultimately be the final game coached by Schellas Hyndman.

Upon completion of that game Dan Hunt spoke about going through a tiresome process to bring the best available coach to Frisco to lead the team of FC Dallas for 2014…and beyond. Schellas Hyndman left an indelible mark on North Texas soccer and the MLS in five years with an overall record of  62-57-58 with an MLS Cup Final in 2010. Officially the last game Hyndman coached was in San Jose one week later on Oct. 26.

“It’s very difficult for me because I’ve coached for so many years,” said Hyndman, 61. “I love the competitive side. I love the teamwork. I love the training. But I think the team needs a different voice. I’ve not been able to bring the best out of them.”

There were some who felt a change may have been imminent since there were no playoff appearances in four of six years under Coach Hyndman’s watch. In times of change one tends to look towards people who have been here and played or coached.

On that end a couple of names seemed like a probable fit for the role of being the next FC Dallas coach. My personal thoughts leaned towards Marco Ferruzzi. A gent with ties to FC Dallas since 2004 who also has some interim coaching experience back in 2008 when the transition from Steve Morrow to Schellas Hyndman took place.

Jump forward to January 10th of this year when it was announced that one time Dallas Burn, FC Dallas player and fan favorite in North Texas Oscar Pareja would return to Frisco to coach after a two year stint coaching the Colorado Rapids. This in exchange for a compensatory 2015 Superdraft pick and allocation money.

“I spent 14 years in Dallas and both the club and the Hunt family hold a special place in my heart,” said Pareja. “While I am forever grateful to the Colorado Rapids for giving me my first head coaching job in MLS, my family and I have decided to take this opportunity to get back home to Texas. I believe we can build something really special in Dallas, and I am thankful for the opportunity, and thankful to the organization, its fans and ownership for believing in me.”

“We couldn’t be happier to be bringing Oscar home to Dallas,” said Dan Hunt who was promoted to President of FC Dallas on January 20th . “Oscar has been part of our FC Dallas family for more than 10 years and helped shape our youth development and academy programs into what they are today. We couldn’t imagine a better fit for our professional team and our goal of building a championship club.”

Pareja was introduced to the media on January 21st. Ten days later the team of FC Dallas was led on a 14.5 hour ride to the United Arab Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi for two weeks of two-a-days and some scrimmages. No doubt that was an incredible experience for the whole team!

There was also a matter of the Superdraft held in Philadelphia where FC Dallas acquired after trading down and up Forward Tesho Akindele from the Colorado School of Mines. That was music to technical director Feranando Clavijo’s ears.

“We’re excited because coming into the draft we were looking to add some offensive power,” said Clavijo. “Oscar has done a good job the last couple years getting to know the kid and how he’s done before. He came to the Combine as one of those kids that every day got better and better.”

Also drafted that day in Philadelphia were defender Nicholas Walker at #43 in the third round from Fairleigh Dickinson and Defender Ronny Santos Mendoza at #62 in the fourth round from Manta FC.

Coach Pareja and Fernando Clavijo didn’t stop there.  In the last month FC Dallas also picked up David Texeira from FC Groningen for an added attack piece. They also transferred midfielder Bobby Warshaw to Swedish side GAIS, waived  forward Bradley Baladez and goal keeper Kyle Zobeck.

On Valentine’s Day Colombian forward was acquired on loan from the Dynamo Kiev.

Kenny Cooper is now a Seattle Sounder and Opening Day is now less than two weeks away. March 8th the fun is going to start with a 7:30 start time against the Montreal Impact at Toyota Stadium. Scoring was at issue in the latter part of the 2013 season under Schellas Hyndman.

Look for goalie Raul Fernandez and George John to provide areas of leadership for the 2014 FC Dallas team.  New coach and new players, fresh blood alongside the capable feet of players like Kellyn Acosta, Jair Benitez, Fabian Castillo, Mauro Diaz, Eric Hassli, Matt Hedges, Stephen Keel, Zach Loyd, Michel, Blas Perez, and Walker Zimmerman among others.

Its along way to December when the MLS Cup Final goes down. Keep checking back for updates as the 2014 MLS season goes into high gear in March. That being said the last five months were quite a blur!