FC Dallas 25th season top 5 all-time rankings – Best Team Seasons

As we continue to celebrate the 25th season of FC Dallas, we’re on to Part XV of our Top 5 rankings. 

To make these rankings, I approached several people I know and respect who have been working around, writing about, or following the team for 25 years to give input.  They may come and go over the course of the season as schedules allow.  I will be giving them credit on each story to which they contribute. 

For Part XV we’re talking about the best seasons in team history.  Not seasons by the individual, but by the team.

Special thanks for participating in this best season ranking: 
Dustin “El Jefe” Christmann – FCD’s 1st Fan, founder of the Inferno, former 3rd Degree writer
Dave Dir – The Burn’s 1st coach, former color commentator
Chamo Jones – former 3rd Degree writer
Kevin Lindstrom – 3rd Degree writer since 2000
Damian Wright – former 3rd Degree writer

Top 5 FC Dallas Seasons of All-Time

5. 2015

Mauro Diaz celebrates with his teammates in the 2015 season final against San Jose Earthquakes, October 25, 2015.  FC Dallas won 2-1 on the day with Diaz scoring the first goal.  (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)
Mauro Diaz celebrates with his teammates in the 2015 season final against San Jose Earthquakes, October 25, 2015. FC Dallas won 2-1 on the day with Diaz scoring the first goal. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)

The first 60-point finish in club history, 1st in the West, and tied on points with the Red Bulls of New York.  Unfortunately, FCD missed out on the Supporters Shield on the tie-breaker. The club finishes at +13 in goal difference, 3rd best in franchise history.  The 18 wins are the most all-time for the club (non-shootout era).

Head Coach: Oscar Pareja
Technical Director: Fernando Clavijo
Record: 18-10-6, 60 points
Regular Season Finish: 1st of 10 teams in the West
Leading Scorer: Fabian Castillo (9 goals, 9 assists)

Fabian Castillo and Matt Hedges are MLS Best XI. Hedges is also an All-Star.  Mauro Diaz has a healthy season chipping in 8 goals and 10 assists. Michael Barrios has 7/2, David Texeira 6/3.

Dallas eliminates Seattle in the first round with one of the more exciting finishes in franchise history, the 2-1 game 2 win (Zimmerman 91st minute goal) followed by OT and PKs (Zimmerman winner) to decide the series.  FCD is then eliminated by Portland Timbers in the West Finals.

No, they didn’t win anything this year, but it was the first-ever 60 point season in club history, they only lost the Supporters Shield to the Red Bulls on a tiebreaker, and they advanced to the conference final for only the fourth time in 20 seasons.

This was the season where it was clear that it was a new day in Frisco with Óscar Pareja in charge. In retrospect, the 2015 season almost feels like the first part of a two-part Hollywood blockbuster because it set up so many things that came to fruition in 2016.

Dustin Christmann

4. 1999

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19 wins – with the help of the shootout – the most in club history.  If shootouts are adjusted for ties, then the Burn still had 16 wins in 1999 a total only beaten twice since. 2nd behind the LA Galaxy in the West by just one win (20-12).  +19 goal differential is the best in club history, driven by the 2nd best goals allowed in club history (35) combined with the 3rd most goals scored (54).

Head Coach: Dave Dir
Technical Director: None (Billy Hicks is team GM).
Record: 19-13, 51 points
(16-7-9, 57 points – when adjusted for no shootouts)
Regular Season Finish: 2nd of 6 teams in the West
Leading Scorer: Jason Kreis (18 goals, 15 assists)

Kreis has a season for the ages: MLS MVP, MLS Golden Boot, MLS Al-Star, MLS Best XI, MLS Player of the Month June.  The first 15-15 season in MLS history and the first American-born MVP.  Chad Deering had 4 goals and 7 assists. Pareja 4 goals and 6 assists. 

Ariel Graziani comes to the Burn in a trade for Leonel Alvarez, scores 4 goals in 8 games, and then turns it up even more in the playoffs with 5 more in 6 games.

The Burn knock off the defending champion Chicago Fire in a fantastic 3 games set that features the “Greatest Game in Club History” in the game 3 comeback. The Burn unfortunately lose a tough 3 game series to the Galaxy in which home field is likely the deciding factor. 

This team – while not garnering any hardware – was the best team of the Dallas Burn years. It started out the season with a 4-0 pasting of the KC Wiz as Kreis scored a hat trick to get his MVP season off on the right foot. For the first half of the season, the team played a disciplined defensive game and would take their chances well with Kreis either scoring or assisting on a goal to secure the points.

As the dog days of summer approaching Dallas dropped the home and away series with Chicago on the July 4th weekend. Then they lost the next 2 of the next 3 prompting the club to trade the heart of the franchise, Leonel Alvarez, for Ariel Graziani. The effect of the trade was that it changed the nature of the team to one that could overwhelm their opponents with their offense and could come back from any deficit.

The home games at the Cotton Bowl for the rest of the season were electric. Kries, Graziani, Dante Washington, and JJ Trellez would all be on the field at the same time along with Deering and Zarco Rodriguez pushing up, throwing all caution to the wind and scoring goal after goal. 

Chamo Jones

3. 1997

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The first silverware in club history and the arguably best offensive team in club history. 55-goals remains tied for the best offensive output for the club to this day.  The ’97 side had a 100% legit shot at the MLS Cup only to be derailed by a bad meal.

Head Coach: Dave Dir
Technical Director: None (Billy Hicks is team GM).
Record: 16-16, 42 points. 
(13-14-5, 44 points – when adjusted for no shootouts)
Regular Season Finish: 3rd of 5 teams in the West
Leading Scorer: Dante Washington (12 goals, 6 assists)

Dante Washington leads the team in scoring and is one of several MLS All-Stars.  Damian (11 goals, 7 assists) is an All-Star. Mark Dodd (183 saves) is an All-Star. Alain Sutter (2g, 8a) is an All-Star and MLS Player of the Month in May.  Diego Sonora and Mark Santel (2g, 6a) are All-Stars. 

The ’97 offense is unreal, Jason Kreis has 8 goals and 6 assists while Gerell Elliott has 7 and 5 and neither gets any recognition at all. Those kinds of numbers could have been leading scorers for this franchise in other seasons.

The Burn eliminate the Galaxy (2nd West, 44 points) in the first round and have their pathway to MLS Cup cleared when Colorado (4th West, 38 points) upsets the KC Wizards (1st West, 49 points) in the other half of the bracket.  But it all gets derailed by some seafood.

The Burn finished 3rd in west, won the open cup, and were an Alain Sutter food poisoning away from going to the MLS Cup final after beating the Galaxy in the semis. During the shootout era records and points totals were misleading; but Jason Kreis, Dante Washington, Jorge “Zarco” Rodriguez, Diego Soñora, Mark Santel, Brian Haynes, and Sutter made them impossible to defend.

This team beat the Galaxy in the playoffs and had crushed Colorado three of the four times they played during the regular season never scoring less than four goals in those games against them. The team went in believing we were the best team left until that playoff upset. It still hurts to this day. 

Dave Dir

2. 2010

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Still the only team in franchise history to play in the MLS Cup. The best defensive team in club history with a paltry 28 goals allowed, that’s 6 goals less than the 2nd best defensive side (1999).  That defense led the club to the fewest losses in club history – 4, the most ties – 14, and the 2nd best Goal Differential – +14

Head Coach: Schellas Hyndman
Technical Director: Barry Gorman
Record: 12-4-14, 50 points.
Regular Season Finish: 3rd of 7 teams in the West.
Leading Scorer: Jeff Cunningham (11 goals, 1 assist)

Jeff Cunningham scored the most goals but this team was carried offensively by MLS MVP David Ferreira who contributed an amazing 8 goals and 13 assists.  Brek Shea with 5 goals and 4 assists and Milton Rodriguez’s 5 goals and 1 assist (in just 13 games as a midseason signing) are worth mention.

Let’s not forget the defense through. Kevin Hartman has a staggering 0.62 GAA (franchise record) and is named MLS Player of the Month for August.  The defense is staffed by players who landed all over our top 5 positional rankings: Daniel Hernandez, Ugo Ihemelu, George John, Heath Pearce, Zach Loyd, Jair Benitez, and Jackson.

The West was crazy good in 2010.  LA and RSL finished ahead of Dallas but FCD upset the defending champion RSL side (coached by Jason Kreis) in 2 games then eliminated the Galaxy IN LA in a single-elimination to advance to the MLS Cup… only to be upset by the 2000 era nemesis Colorado Rapids who had advanced out of the crap East bracket after finishing 5th in the West.

Coach Hyndman had put together one tough team in 2010. FC Dallas was just darn tough to break down and that lead to them being an MLS Cup finalist… which says enough to be on this list for me. Allowing only 28 goals that season is still a club record.

While there are a couple of FC Dallas teams (like 2006) that didn’t make my list with better regular-season records; this ‘10 team was built for the playoffs and were an unlucky bounce away from lifting the first MLS Cup for the club.

Dave Dir

1. 2016

FC Dallas poses with the 2016 MLS Supporters Shield following a 0-0 tie at LA Galaxy in the final game of the regular season. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

Was there ever going to be any doubt?  MLS Supporters Shield winners and US Open Cup Champions. The only double winners in franchise history. A relatively high scoring team with 50 goals for a quality +10 goal differential (tied for the 4th best GD in team history)

Head Coach: Oscar Pareja
Technical Director: Fernando Clavijo
Record: 17-8-9, 60 points.
Regular Season Finish: 1st of 10 teams in the West
Leading Scorer: Maxi Urruti (9 goals, 4 assists)

This is a team with a balanced offense and lots of players contributing. Maxi leads the stats, but Mauro Diaz is named an MLS Best XI and an MLS All-Star with 5 goals and 13 assists.  Matt Hedges is MLS Best XI and MLS Defender of the Year. 

Kellyn Acosta is an MLS All-Star (2 goals, 5 assists). Michael Barrios (9 g, 2 a), Tesho Akindele (6g, 4a), Fabian Castillo (5g, 5a), and Walker Zimmerman (4g) all have noteworthy stat lines.  Mauro Rosales has an impressive season almost completely off the bench (23 games, 4 starts, 2g, 3a) and is a massive part of the Open Cup win.

After Castillo bails and Diaz is injured, the playoffs don’t go well and FCD is upset in the first round by Seattle in 2 games. What could have been, eh?

Can there be another choice for #1? This was the year that everything came together, and I will go to my grave convinced that if Díaz doesn’t get hurt in the penultimate game, FCD doesn’t just win the double, but a treble. 

Dustin Christmann

Pretty simple.

Kevin Lindstrom

Honorable Mention

2006. This team went wire to wire in first place in the West and dominated their regular season in the club’s first full season at Pizza Hut Park. Oddly with only 4 ties, the lowest number of ties in club history.  52 points was the highest in club history to that point and was only equaled once after that… until Oscar Pareja came along as coach.

Head Coach: Colin Clarke
Technical Director: None (Michael Hitchcock is GM)
Record: 16-12-4, 52 points.
Regular Season Finish: 1st of 6 teams in the West.
Leading Scorer: Carlos Ruiz (13 goals, 5 assists)

Ruiz is tearing it up (MLS Player of the Month May) but so is Kenny Cooper with 11 goals and 4 assists.  Richard Mulrooney (1g, 9a) wins MLS Comeback Player of the Year and is an All-Star. Ronnie O’Brien (1 goal, 11 assists) is an MLS All-Star. Ramon Nunez is at his peak with 6 goals and 4 assists.  Captain Simo Valakari is holding the whole thing together as the 6.

Unfortunately, the playoffs are a disaster and FCD is eliminated by the Rapids for the 3rd straight playoff appearance in a row (2002, 2005, 2006)… so the Hunts (or Michael Hitchcock in his first season?) fire Colin Clarke, still one of the worst decisions in club history for me.  

This team led the regular season western conference standings from wire to wire. With Carlos Ruiz and Kenny Cooper putting away the chances that Ronnie O’Brien was serving up. Ramon Nunez had come into his own. And the team was deep in every line with players like Mulrooney, Valakari, Alvarez, Bobby Rhine, Greg Vanney, Drew Moor, Chris Gbandi, Roberto Mina, and Abe Thompson.

Unfortunately, their playoff run ended at the hands of Colorado with one of the wildest elimination games ever that had an early ejection of Gbandi, a Clint Mathis 114’ goal, Joe Cannon standing on his head saving about 150 shots, two goals in extra-time (mini-game), and Dario Sala missing the last PK. 

Chamo Jones
The FC Dallas starting XI against Colorado Rapids at Toyota Stadium, July 29, 2006.  (Jason Gulledge, 3rd Degree)
The FC Dallas starting XI against Colorado Rapids at Toyota Stadium, July 29, 2006. Dallas won 4-1. The match was part of a doubleheader with Club America facing Everton. (Jason Gulledge, 3rd Degree)

What’s Next?

Individual Seasons – Who had the best single season in club history?

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