Professional soccer returns for a 26th MLS season in the Metroplex this week and FC Dallas President Dan Hunt spoke with the Dallas media and sees the current squad as a team with plenty of potential to bring success in the new season.
“This team feels a lot like the 2016 team that won the Supporters Shield and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup,” Dan Hunt said about the current squad. “The reason I say that is because it feels like a really dynamic team.”
FC Dallas fans have reasons to be excited about their club: new promising and young talent, a preseason tournament win, and plenty of depth and competition within the squad for a starting role. One player that has both fans and the club buzzing is 20-year-old Szabolcs Schön.
“I’m very excited about the young Hungarian player, [Szabolcs] Schön, that we have coming in,” Hunt said about the young Hungarian winger. “He is an incredible prospect. He was an Ajax product and Chelsea was interested in signing him at the same time. He is coming in at a great time and we expect him to come in the coming weeks and expect him available for selection right away.”
Luchi Gonzalez had all of his newest additions – with the exception of Szabolcs Schön – present for the beginning of preseason. This luxury can potentially give Los Toros an extra advantage early in the season by allowing the newest members, and the likes of Andres Ricuarte and Franco Jara, the time to fully integrate with the squad from the start rather than mid-season.
“One of the most important things that Luchi keeps reiterating and that we’ve talked a lot about is that [Luchi] really didn’t have a lot of time to properly train the players given the condensed schedule in 2020,” Hunt said. “There were not a lot of practice sessions. There were so many recovery sessions. [Luchi has] been thrilled to have a preseason, put in multiple formations, and get the guys fit.”
With the country continuing vaccination efforts, FC Dallas’ players and staff have received vaccines as part of their preparation for the new season. Dan Hunt stated, “a high 80’s to low 90’s” percent of the club has been vaccinated.
The club will continue to practice social distancing within the stadium on game day as masks will continue to be required. Dan Hunt emphasized that the club wants to make the match-day environment a safe and welcoming event. FC Dallas is looking to increase from 50% capacity to a higher amount by June 19th while balancing local, state, CDC, and league rules.
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open returns in 2021 and FC Dallas will look to qualify in a modified edition of the domestic cup. The 8 teams with the highest point-per-game average from April, 16 – May, 2 will qualify for the 2021 edition. FC Dallas will push to qualify even with the large inclusion of new players.
“Every game has a double significance, double importance,” Coach Gonzalez said about qualifying for the Open Cup. “We talked about [qualification] last week, we talked about it more this week with the team. We don’t want to overwhelm what’s at stake. Knowing how important it is for the league and for the Open Cup, every team knows that and you are going to see some exciting games in terms of commitment.”
Year three of the Luchi Gonzalez era begins on Saturday, April 17th as FC Dallas welcomes the Colorado Rapids, and FC Dallas favorites Kellyn Acosta and Michael Barrios. The club and Coach Gonzalez will look to earn the first home-playoff game of his tenure and possibly MLS Cup itself as excitement and expectations are set high for an “MLS Original” club.