MLS IS BACK!
FCD finished 4th in the Western Conference last year, posting 57 points aided by a 10W-2L-5D record at home. But this is could be a different Dallas team than in years past with head coach Oscar Pareja and stars Maxi Urruti and Roland Lamah not returning.
As always, we chat with our good friend Drew Epperley of Big D Soccer as we talk about lone meeting between New England and Dallas, which probably should be renamed the Fernando Clavijo Memorial Derby. Be sure to check out my answers to Drew’s questions over on their site.
TBM: Oscar Pareja is out, and academy director Luchi Gonzalez is in. At the rate FC Dallas signs homegrowns, this seems like a very logical hire but what will the biggest difference be for the FCD First Team? Is there a new style/formation we can expect?
DE: Luchi has been around with FC Dallas since 2012, so in most ways, any HGP signed has been coached by him (which is a good chunk of the team right now). So there is that. Outside of his academy experience, he brings a very organized and fun attacking approach to this team with his 4-3-3 formation (widely different than the 4-2-3-1 that Oscar Pareja used for all those years). I think we’ll see a team that is still pretty strong defensively, if not better than they were a year ago in the back, along with a group of attacking players that will compliment one another nicely in this new formation.
TBM: Maxi Urruti and Roland Lamah combined for 16 goals and 17 assists last season and neither are returning, so who is expected to replace that production?
DE: The production those two brought in was always going to be tough to replace but each were very streaky players too. Lamah’s production died off late in the summer last year when he got hurt (he rarely saw the field in the final two months). And Urruti was moved from a striker role into a number 10 role around the same time, which meant his goal scoring was even more hit or miss.
Replacing them won’t be as hard as it appears on paper. Dominque Badji has done excellent in this preseaon play with six goals and will likely be the main man up front this season with Homegrown forward Jesus Ferreira (yes former MLS MVP David Ferreira’s son) getting some chances to score as well. I’d also expect Santiago Mosquera to have a much bigger season in year two for FC Dallas. He was good at times but so far this preseason he has been a monster for them.
TBM: There’s no question, we’re just going to pour one out for Fernando Clavijo, who had tremendous ties to your organization and used to coach the Revs. FCD is set to honor him today so if there’s any details regarding that ceremony or personal story you have to share.
DE: Ah man, Fernando was really as good as it comes. My first few interactions with him were over the phone during the coaching search to hire Oscar Pareja a few years back. His candor and honesty was something I always appreciated as he never shied away from any question. When you would see him in person, he would always stop and say hi, ask you how things were going and even ask how your family was doing whether he knew them or not.
I’m thankful for knowing Fernando and really do hope this weekend’s ceremony does his legacy justice with the banner they’ll hang in the stadium and other little odds and ends they have planned.