Welcome to the 22nd season preview of the 2023 MLS season! Today we are going to look at one of the original ten teams of MLS, FC Dallas. Dallas is entering year two of a massive rebuild for the franchise. They will look to continue their promising run!
FC Dallas promised their fans a "new era" last season and they delivered! They hired USMNT assistant coach Nico Estevez to lead, brought in established MLS veterans Paul Arriola and Sebastian Lletget and spent a record transfer fee on a promising young Argentine winger Alan Velasco. They finished the season in third place in the Western Conference. They hosted and won one playoff game against Minnesota United, unfortunately they lost their second playoff game to in-state rivals Austin FC.
Manager: Nico Estevez (2nd Year)
Designated Players: Jesus Ferreira, Alan Velasco
Image: FC Dallas
GK: Antonio Carrera, Jimmy Maurer, Maarten Paes
DEF: Marco Farfan, Sebastien Ibeagha, Geovane Jesus, Amet Korca, Jose Martinez, Nolan Norris, Nkosi Tafari, Ema Twumasi, Collin Smith
MID: Edwin Cerrillo, Sebastian Lletget, Tsiki Ntsabeleng, Paxton Pomykal, Brandon Servania, Facundo Quignon
FWD: Paul Arriola, Herbert Endeley, Jesus Ferreira, Bernard Kamungo, Jose Mulato, Jader Obrian, Tarik Scott, Alan Velasco
Out on Loan: Justin Che (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), Dante Sealy (Jong PSV)
Projected Opening Day Starting Eleven:
Image: Toros95 via Lineup11
This is what I think the lineup for FC Dallas' first game will look like. There are three spots that could change and those would be right back, second center defender, and maybe defensive midfielder.
Image: FC Dallas via Twitter
Dallas recently brought in another right back to compete with Ema Twumasi. Geovane Jesus was signed in December, unlike Nanu who was brought in via loan for the spot, Geovane is under a three-year contract with Dallas, plus one option year. (FC Dallas Signs Defender Geovane Jesus from Cruzeiro | FC Dallas)
Despite him being seen as the future for that spot, I believe that it will be Twumasi starting on opening day. Geovane is new to MLS and he'll need some time to adjust to the league. Twumasi has been in the league for a few seasons now, his experience should push him ahead of Geovane for at least the first couple of games.
Second Center Defender:
The second spot that I mentioned is the second center defender. With the departure of Matt Hedges, Jose Martinez will need a new partner. The two players most likely to earn that spot are Sebastian Ibeagha and Nkosi Tafari. Either one could start on opening day, but I have Ibeagha on my projected starting eleven over Tafari. The reason I chose Ibeagha is the same reason I chose Twumasi, experience. Ibeagha is 31 years old and he's been a professional for a while. He also recently started and won the MLS Cup with LAFC last season. (FC Dallas Signs Defender Sebastien Ibeagha | FC Dallas)
Nkosi Tafari is the second player who could be starting alongside Jose Martinez. Tafari was drafted by FC Dallas back in 2020. At 25 years old, he is younger than Ibeagha and Martinez. He's grown a lot as a player, but Ibeagha still has more experience. I could see Tafari edging him out though as the season progresses.
The last spot I mentioned is the defensive midfielder position. There are two options for that spot, Facundo Quignon and Edwin Cerrillo. Despite Quignon being a more experienced player like Ibeagha, I think Cerrillo will be in the starting eleven on opening day.
Cerrillo started 20 games for Dallas last season, whereas Quignon started 14. He's already made the spot his own, at least for now.
FC Dallas retained a lot of their exciting, young talent. Two young players that I am excited to watch this year are Jesus Ferreira and Alan Velasco.
Star striker Jesus Ferreira remains with Dallas, at least for right now. He scored a career-high 18 goals and almost broke the club record for most goals scored in regular season last year. After Dallas' last regular season game, he looked to be extremely disappointed that he wasn't able to score that last goal to break the record.
Alan Velasco will be entering his second year in MLS. This year he got a full preseason with the squad, last year there were some issues getting him into the USA (I believe he ended up arriving a little after the home opener). Some were worried about his development at the beginning of last season but as the season progressed, he continued to improve. He ended the year with 6 goals and 7 assists during the regular season. His best moment last year came at the end of Dallas' first playoff game against Minnesota United.
Video: Sport is Life via YouTube
Thanks for viewing our twenty-second 2023 season preview. There will be a new one out about every single day leading up to MLS kickoff. If you are a passionate fan looking to write about your club, we are actively seeking contributors for MLS clubs this season. If interested, message us on either Twitter or Instagram @MLSNowPodcast. We want to provide an outlet for fans to discuss their club on the site and also guest star on the podcast throughout the season.
Image: FC Dallas