In 2009, FC Dallas' hot second half wasn't enough to offset a poor 3-7-5 start to the season.
The resurgence of Jeff Cunningham and the play of David Ferreira helped engineer the turnaround and this season Dallas will look to get started on the right foot. After an offseason of little transfer activity, Schellas Hyndman has a very similar team in place heading into 2010.
A number of young players are waiting in the wings, with Brek Shea taking Dave van den Bergh's spot on the left flank, and rookie Zach Loyd is a versatile option in either midfield or defense.
Here's a look at 2010 FC Dallas:
2010 FC DALLAS
Players to Watch – Jeff Cunningham, Brek Shea, Daniel Hernandez, David Ferreira
Key Arrivals – Kevin Hartman, Zach Loyd
Key Departures – Dave van den Bergh
Projected Lineup (New starters in bold)
Brek Shea————–Dax McCarty————Marvin Chavez
Jair Benitez—-George John–Ugo Ihemelu——Heath Pearce
Big Question – Who scores if Jeff Cunningham can't? Hyndman clearly prefers his 4-1-4-1 formation, and Cunningham's hot second half in the lone striker role last season helped key the second half turnaround. If he can't recapture his form and approach 20 goal territory, Dallas doesn't have a lot of options.
While David Ferreira is a threat to score goals from the midfield, the list of back ups to Cunningham is a short one — Atiba Harris and Peri Marosevic, with a rookie or two possibly in the mix. Even if Cunningham can light up the score sheet, goals will be needed from elsewhere for this club to be able to contend in the West.
X-Factor – Ferreira got off to a slow start last year, after joining Dallas from Clube Atletico Paranaense. He went on to finish with 8 goals in 7 assists while playing all but eight minutes of the season. If Cunningham and Ferreira are on the same page from the opening kick, Dallas will have the offensive prowess to hang with anyone.
Outlook – Dallas led the league in goals scored last season (50) but was also among the worst in goals conceded (47). In the end, that was the breaking point that kept them out of the postseason. George John and Ugo Ihemelu will have to steady the ship in front of Sala (or Hartman) if FC Dallas wants to make the postseason. That is probably too much to ask in the tough Western Conference.