Thursday, March 27, 2008

Projected Starting Lineup: FC Dallas

Projected Starting Lineup:







Coming off the bench: GK Ray Burse, Jr., GK Josh Lambo, DF Alex Yi, MF Marcelo Saragosa, FW Dominic Oduro, FW Ricardinho, MF Brek Shea, DF Blake Wagner

The thing about Dallas continues to be their streaky play. Long stretches of the season show that the Hoops are indeed the team to beat and then they come out one match and get blown out of the water. Last season, that mainly had to do with a leaky back four. Excuse the baseball analogy, but it's like the Phillies. You get a game where they win 12-0 over the Braves, then they lose the next three games 2-1, 1-0, 3-1. Waste all their juice in one game. Dallas was the same way. They would play like a team - win a couple, shut people out - then hello inconsistencies. Before you know it, they're on the outside looking in. Dallas was able to recover late last year, but ended up hurting themselves in the playoffs yet again.

This year could be different. If the hiccups are minimized, the Hoops could make a tear. The addition of seasoned Mexican international Duilio Davino and Atletico Paranense midfielder Andre Rocha should really help. Another year of progress on Dax McCarty and Arturo Alvarez can only do positive things. The emergence of David Wagenfuhr in the preseason is fantastic, but unfortunately the season hasn't started yet and he's got to carry this throughout a potential 40 game season. Juan Toja is supposed to be released this year from his outside duties and should be free to roam in the central pocket behind a very good off-the-ball runner Alvarez and target man Cooper. If Morrow keeps those tactics set, Toja could have a hell of a year. Having Ricchetti, McCarty, Rocha, and Wagenfuhr in support won't hurt terribly either. If - as shown above - Steve Morrow opts for 5 midfielders, you can also expect to see a little bit of the rookie Brek Shea either on wings on back at fullback.

The forward contingency of Kenny Cooper, Ricardinho, and the aforementioned Alvarez is decent, but it all rides on Cooper's continued good health. Everyone wants to see young Abdi Ibrahim, but I wouldn't bet on it. Abe Thompson - once healthy - will certainly feature up front and grab the same key goals that he got for the Hoops last year. It looks as if Dominic Oduro might either move on from Dallas or play a marginal role. His speed is insane, but his finishing has gotten much better since his Richmond Kickers Future days. Oduro featured well last season due to Cooper's unfortunate early season injury.

The one area Dallas can tout as their strongest is their keepers. Dario Sala has regained fitness and beaten out young blood in Ray Burse, Jr. The SuperDraft selection of toddler Josh Lambo raised a couple eyebrows as Burse, Jr. and Sala proved a formidable enough team. But Morrow pushed on, signed Lambo, and now rumors put Burse on a plane off to USL's Division One. A shame if it's true, but it is what it is.
Overall, it could go either way for the Hoops. A big range on their finishing spot and it depends mostly on the health and consistency of Cooper, Toja, and the effectiveness of Davino and Rocha. I really like the blend of youth and veteran leadership here though and that, in itself, could work out for Morrow and his boys.

Outlook: 5th in the West

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