By ADAM SERRANO
One win away.
That is how close FC Dallas came winning the franchise's first MLS Cup in 2010. Fresh off its crushing defeat to the Colorado Rapids in the final, FCD is ready to make a return run to the championship in 2011. Led by 2010 MVP David Ferriera in attack and backstopped by the talented Kevin Hartman in goal, Dallas once more looks to challenge for top honors.
After impressive seasons by youngsters Brek Shea, George John and Zach Loyd helped lead Dallas to the final, head coach Schellas Hyndman will need his young stars to put in equally impressive seasons in 2011; however, some questions remain. Who replaces the production of Dax McCarty, the midfielder that was so influential in the run to MLS Cup? Also, who will score the bulk of the goals after the departures of Atiba Harris and Jeff Cunningham? Some of those answers will be sorted out in the next few weeks.
Here's a closer look at the preseason plans of FC Dallas:
Training Schedule: Feb. 8-19 at Pizza Hut Park; Feb. 20-26 in Orlando; Feb. 27-28 at Pizza Hut Park; March 1-8 in Phoenix; March 9-13 at Pizza Hut Park.
Preseason Game Schedule: Feb. 8 vs. Houston Baptist, Feb. 12 vs. Houston Dynamo in Corpus Christi, Texas; Feb. 21 vs. Seattle Sounders; Feb. 23 vs. New England Revolution; March 1 vs. Montreal Impact in Phoenix; March 7 vs. New York Red Bulls in Phoenix; March 12 vs. Chivas USA at Pizza Hut Park; March 13 vs. Central Arkansas.
Key Arrivals: GK – Chris Seitz; MF – Bobby Warshaw, Ricardo Villar.
Key Departures: MF- Dax McCarty; F – Atiba Harris, Jeff Cunningham; GK – Dario Sala.
What to Watch For: In order for FC Dallas to return to get back to the MLS Cup, it will need a suitable replacement for McCarty, the sparkplug for FCD on the field and a vocal leader for the team off of it. Eric Alexander and recent acquisition Ricardo Villar look like the most suitable players to play a similar role as the midfield engine for Dallas this season.
Perhaps just as vital to replacing McCarty is finding out who will score goals on this side. With Cunningham off to Columbus and Harris with Vancouver, the forward line looks thin. The task looks to fall to one of Dallas' young forwards like 2010 draft pick Andrew Wiedeman or FCD youth phenom, Ruben Luna. Luna is the most intriguing option, as the youth academy product looks to have a big role for the club going forward. To deal with this problem, the club is also taking a look at former Chivas USA star Maykel Galindo, who was recently released by the Rojiblancos.
Of Note: Four FC Dallas players (Shea, Alexander, Loyd, and Ugo Ihlemelu) were rewarded for their success in 2010 with U.S. national team January call-ups…Luna is set to join the Mexican U-20s after being called up in late January…Brazilian midfielder Ricardo Villar signed with the club on Monday. He is a Penn State University product who formerly played in Germany's second division.