Finally, some hardware! FC Dallas ended a 19-year trophy drought by winning the US Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield, but fizzled out in the playoffs without the magic of Mauro Diaz, who went down due to an achilles tendon tear. Real fútbol fans know that the team at the top of the table is the true league champion.
Is this the number nine Frisco fans have been waiting for!? Cristian Colmán arrives from Paraguay, having scored 11 goals in 18 starts and 31 appearances for Nacional last season. How will he and Maxi Urruti split time? Fabian Castillo checked out of the squad last summer and wasn’t replaced until now with the acquisition of Roland Lamah, a 29-year-old winger who has played for Belgium. With Mauro Diaz out until the summer, Dallas jumped at the chance to bring in The Maestro, Javier Morales, to direct the attack.
FC Dallas will continue in the 4-2-3-1 with Morales taking Diaz’s spot until Mauro regains his health. Coach of the Year Oscar Pareja emphasizes fast counter attacks and dynamic wing play. He has two of the league’s top defenders at the core of his defense.
Starting in the back, Chris Seitz is expected to be the starting goalie, but Jesse Gonzalez will fight to retake his spot. At left back, newcomer Anibal Chalá has been praised for his speed, but can he take over from the experienced Honduran International Maynor Figueroa? Walker Zimmerman will certainly not be as cheap on the fantasy budget as last season. Matt Hedges is your reigning Defender of the Year. Atiba Harris is the incumbent right back, but HGP Reggie Cannon will definitely start a few games this year. Ryan Hollingshead broke three vertebrae when he was hit by a car this offseason, but will recover by the spring and can fill in anywhere.
Carlos Gruezo and Kellyn Acosta once again hold down the midfield with Victor Ulloa always ready to step in. Lamah takes the left wing vacated by Fabi. Barrios’ production dropped off as defenses were able to key in on him, so expect him to return to greater heights with a dynamic threat on the opposite side. Javier Morales starts at the ten, but Mauro Diaz is 45 days ahead of schedule in his recovery and should be back by summer.
Colmán and Urruti will likely split time at forward, causing a conundrum for fantasy players. Each has a good chance at double-digit goals this year. With CCL games, Tesho will get to play a handful of league games and can be counted on for five to seven goals as always.
Predicted Dallas Starting Lineup
Expectations are once again high in North Texas. But watch out in fantasy land! This team’s priority will be CONCACAF Champions League for the first two months of the season. With a crucial quarterfinal leg in Panama three days before the league opener, a rotated lineup featuring homegrown players is a definite possibility on March 4th in Carson. I don’t foresee 37-year-old Javier Morales playing a midweek game and then again on the weekend, do you?
Walker Zimmerman was on everyone’s roster last season, but there is no way he is that cheap this year! If Anibal Chalá is able to beat out Figueroa at left back, he will be a value buy. Roland Lamah could be undervalued out of the gate and Michael Barrios is going to outperform last year’s totals. Colmán and Urruti will be situational buys, as they will be splitting time this season. When Diaz returns in the summer, players might hesitate to pick him up immediately as he is coming off major surgery and you can be ahead of the curve.
This team is hungry for more trophies and should qualify for the playoffs comfortably. But with the focus on CCL to start the season, the league lineup will be unpredictable.