FRISCO, Texas — For the first time in five seasons, FC Dallas has a new coach. After former coach Oscar Pareja left for Liga MX side Club Tijuana, academy director Luchi Gonzalez was promoted. His arrival brought many questions, including the direction of the club for 2019. The team has been competitive year in and year out, winning the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, 2016 Supporters’ Shield and making the Concacaf Champions League semifinal in 2017.
Gonzalez’s basic principles make FC Dallas an intriguing team to watch going into the new MLS season. He emphasizes possession, pressing to win the ball back and attacking more to pin a team. During training and preseason matches, these specific elements have been evident. With a city thirsty for its first MLS Cup, the new season will provide a glimpse of what’s to come for FCD.
Dallas takes on New England Revolution in Gonzalez’s first match
When: Saturday, March 2, 4:30 p.m. ET
Where: Toyota Stadium
Broadcast: TV– Texas 21/FCDTV Network; Radio– FCDallas.com/Radio (English), 1270 AM (Spanish)
Live Stream: ESPN+
The Buzz: FC Dallas will show what it has been working on all preseason when Gonzalez coaches his first professional match. After ending 2018 on a disappointing note, losing in the playoffs to the eventual MLS Cup finalist Portland Timbers, Dallas hopes to get off to a fast start. FCD’s highly-rated homegrown, Paxton Pomykal, could start in the midfield alongside Carlos Gruezo and new designated player Bryan Acosta.
Other Key Matches:
April 20: at Atlanta United – FC Dallas will return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the first time since the beginning of the team’s 2017 collapse. Back then, FCD lost 3-0 to Atlanta United, a team that is now the reigning MLS Cup champion and features South American Player of the Year Pity Martinez.
August 24: vs Houston Dynamo – The home leg of the Texas Derby, when Dallas will attempt to keep El Capitan at Toyota Stadium. Dallas defeated the Dynamo 4-2 last season, ensuring the historic cannon came back to Frisco. However, Houston looks much improved from 2017, with forward Mauro Manotas coming back for another season and Juan David Cabezas returning from injury.
October 6: vs Sporting Kansas City- SKC has always been a difficult team for Dallas. The teams split their regular-season meetings last season, including a 3-2 victory with a Michael Barrios hat trick in July. SKC will be defending its Western Conference title, setting up a potential massive clash for playoff seeding.
Check out the full 2019 season here.
Quotes and Notes
Reggie Cannon is entering his third season in MLS after a standout sophomore campaign. Cannon made 33 starts for the team and earned a USMNT call-up in the process, making his debut on October 16th against Peru.
“Now that I know not only what it takes, but what will also pull you down, I can start to prevent that not only myself but for the team,” Cannon said. “Last year against Portland was heartbreaking. I know what lost us that game. I now know that when you get to that certain point, you have to keep pushing. You can’t say, ‘We’re fine.’ No. Even if you’re at the top, you have to still say, ‘This isn’t enough.’ Because that’s what — not killed the team last year, but what ultimately led to our downfall. . . . You can’t plan everything out, but whatever circumstance, I’ve seen it before in MLS. I’m ready for it.”
Midfielder Jacori Hayes is looking to bounce back after a tough end to the 2018 season. Hayes started off well, earning plenty of starts at the beginning of the season before being benched in favor of Victor Ulloa, who is now with FC Cincinnati.
“It still hasn’t really hit me,” Hayes said. “There’s so many young guys around, I’ve always felt kind of old on this team. It’s Year 3, it’s time to show what I’ve learned in the first two years and there’s no more inexperience. Can’t use that as an excuse. It’s time to put up or shut up.”
Gonzalez knows some mistakes will happen, but moving past those errors is important.
“The beauty of this game is that there’s always mistakes. There’s mistakes every game from both teams, from every player,” Gonzalez said. “Every player makes mistakes. If not, they’d have 100 percent possession, which is rare or if it’s a sub who maybe touches the ball one time and connected the pass.
“We embrace mistakes. We’re not afraid of them. Our players are training in a way that they’re not afraid of them either. The game is going to be full of mistakes. The goal is to make less mistakes than the opposition. I’m confident with our continued mentality and commitment to each other as a team that we can come out showing that our mistakes, we can recover from and get results.”
Key Offseason Additions
- Dallas added Honduran Midfielder Bryan Acosta as its third designated player. Acosta made 16 appearances in the Segunda Division for Spanish side Tenerife. Acosta is expected to start in the midfield, pairing with another No. 8 in Gonzalez’s system.
- Brazilian centerback Bressan also joined Dallas from Brazilian side Gremio. He was acquired using Targeted Allocation Money and is expected to provide depth on the defensive line.
- The team added Zdenek Ondrasek to the fold, adding to the forward depth. He was also acquired using Targeted Allocation Money and has been noted to be a hard worker by Gonzalez.
Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez, 23; Jimmy Maurer, 30; Kyle Zobeck, 29
Defenders: Bressan, 26; Reggie Cannon, 20; Matt Hedges, 28; Moises Hernandez, 26; Callum Montgomery, 21; John Nelson, 20; Marquinhos Pedroso, 25; Bryan Reynolds, 17; Reto Ziegler, 33
Midfielders: Bryan Acosta, 25; Pablo Aranguiz, 21; Michael Barrios, 27; Edwin Cerrillo, 18; Carlos Gruezo, 23; Jacori Hayes, 23; Ryan Hollingshead, 27; Santiago Mosquera, 24; Paxton Pomykal, 19; Thomas Roberts, 17; Brandon Servania, 19
Forwards: Francis Atuahene, 22; Dominique Badji, 26; Cristian Colman, 25; Jesus Ferreira, 18; Zdenek Ondrasek, 30; Dante Sealy, 15; Ema Twumasi, 21