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Is Dallas an MLS Cup Contender? Three Questions for 2012

FC Dallas was an up-and-down team last season, getting off to a slow start (remember Brek Shea as a fullback) before surging in the summer then falling off a cliff in the fall.  The team ended the season on a whimper with a playoff loss to New York, but it was a particularly traumatic and busy season for a number of reasons:

  • The David Ferreira injury that removed him for most of the season
  • A dramatic jump in soccer minutes for Brek Shea
  • The George John transfer drama
And so on.  It is no wonder that the team had such an up-and-down season.

Now as the calendar turns to 2012, Dallas has the look not only of a playoff contender but a possible MLS Cup contender.  Consider Ferriera’s return plus Shea’s maturity as a player, and this is a dangerous team.  However, here are some questions that need to be resolved this offseason before any MLS Cup talk can continue.  Consider these “three questions” for Dallas:

1. Will the midfield equal its success from 2010?
In his MVP season, David Ferreira was a maestro.  The way he created scoring chances for his teammates in 2010 was magnificent and he took that team to a new level.  While they compensated for his loss last season, there’s no doubt that Ferreira at his best makes this team considerably better.  However, he is coming off a major injury and is 32 years old.  While he may not ever be as good as he was in 2010, how good he can still be is a good indicator of how good Dallas can be.  Regardless, if he can even be a good player in the midfield, this is an improved team.

 

But Ferriera is not the only question in the midfield.  Captain Daniel Hernandez is 35 years old and certainly isn’t getting any younger.  Shea will hopefully be around for a while longer, but will national team commitments and wooing from overseas clubs distract him?  In short, this midfield is older and much different than the one in 2010, making it harder to equal their performance from that season.  But an older and more mature Shea may bump them back to superiority.

 

2. Can the youngsters provide needed depth for this team?
The Marvin Chavez trade was a befuddling one to some people but points to the fact that Schellas Hyndman may be looking to his younger players to fill in and contribute this season.  No doubt they have young talent.  Dallas had nine players called up for various U.S. national teams, including four to the U-20 side.  We’ve seen some glimpses from the younger players, including Victor Ullloa and Fabian Castillo, to suggest that younger players are ready to earn serious minutes.  Although they are out of the Champions League, with some many players travelling to national team commitments Dallas needs to have some depth to avoid a plunge like last season towards the end.

 

3. Will a new striker step forward please?
This one is a slam dunk for offseason questions, as in Dallas lacks experienced and talented forwards on their roster.  They have talented (Ruben Luna, Castillo) forwards but do not have that rugged, proven goal scorer that make midfielders look so good.  They’ve been linked with potential signings, but they need that guy who can get the ball in the back of the net consistently to take that next step.
Update: It looks like Dallas made a move at least to address #3, signing Blas Perez.  Is it enough, though?