FC Dallas Begins New Era in 2022 Season 

FC Dallas Logo
FC Dallas Logo | Image by FCDallas.com

The 2022 Major League Soccer (MLS) season begins this weekend, and FC Dallas (FCD) will open with a home game against Toronto FC on Saturday, February 26. Because the World Cup will take place later this year, the season starts earlier than ever before.

The 2021 season was not a successful one for FCD. They finished at No.11 of 13 places in the Western Conference, with seven wins, 12 draws, and 15 losses. The team underwent a coaching change mid-season, but it did not have a positive impact.

The 2022 season, however, is the beginning of a new era for FCD as they had an exciting offseason. The team sold their star striker Ricardo Pepi for an MLS record of $20 million.

FCD used the funds from the Pepi transfer to bring in some fresh talent to the team, acquiring 19-year old Argentine winger Alan Velasco for a reported $7 million fee — the largest fee that FCD has ever spent on one player.

Velasco is regarded as a top prospect with the potential to become a star. However, he is not expected to be ready for the opening game against Toronto.

The team also traded for winger Paul Arriola from D.C. United. The 27-year old Arriola has been a regular player for the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT), making 43 appearances for the national team since 2016.

The team also hired a new coach in Nico Estévez, who was an assistant with the USMNT.

As Estévez prepared for his debut this week against Toronto, he sat down with The Striker Texas to talk about the upcoming season.

“It’s clear that if we have a sale like we’ve had, and after the season the team had last year, it was clear the team had to improve,” Estévez said. “I’m really happy the club has responded to the needs we’re looking to fill, and I’m excited to start.”

“All the players are ready for things to get started and see if all the work we’ve put in gets us the three points Saturday and helps us compete against Toronto,” the new coach added. “Then, from there, things will have to keep improving.”

Estévez believes his background in education will help him grow the team. His father is a teacher, his grandfather was a teacher, and when he was younger, Estévez himself was a PE teacher in the mornings before coaching in the afternoon.

“I think, ultimately, coaching is teaching,” he said. “My way of coaching really has a lot of educating and teaching moments. That’s how I understand the game. As coaches, part of our job is to find learning strategies for the players to quickly absorb the concepts we’re playing with. Part of the style of coaching I have comes from my background as an educator.”

FCD club president Dan Hunt also spoke with The Striker Texas about the team’s moves over the offseason.

“Our fans deserve a great product on the field,” Hunt said. “The impetus is we just needed to get better. We just felt like this was the right moment in time. We had a record-breaking transfer for Ricardo Pepi. We immediately took those resources and pumped it back in. In fact, we spent a lot more than we’ve taken in on players.”

The team rewarded one of its bright stars, striker Jesús Ferreira, with a brand new contract that lasts through the 2025 season. The 21-year old has broken through to become a regular player for the USMNT in recent World Cup qualifiers. He will be relied on to replace Pepi.

“I 100% see (the commitment). The owners are very interested in what we have to do. They know investing in us is a good idea,” Ferreira told The Striker Texas. “We’re happy that we’re getting new signings, updating our facility. It’s important for the players to feel the owners believe in us.”

FCD will lean on Estévez to succeed in his first-ever head coaching position. If FCD players reach their potential, they should be expected to deliver winning results.

Their opening game against Toronto will begin at 4:30 p.m. at Toyota Stadium in Frisco.

The weather may be a factor that advantages the Canadian club, as the Dallas area is recovering from freezing temperatures.

“This is a little bit unusual because we’re in a World Cup year, and this is the first time that I can remember the regular season taking off in February,” Hunt told NBC 5. “The weather is a little bit of a challenge, but this is something that we have to work through as the league, and it’s always hard in Texas. You never know what you’re going to get.”

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