1. Just sit back and enjoy watching Kellyn Acosta
Matthew Doyle of MLSsoccer.com called him the MLS Young Player of the Year and it’s easy to forget the Plano native (who will tell you he’s from McKinney) is still just 21 years old. With nearly 100 games of experience under his belt, Acosta cemented himself as a full-time starter in 2016 and if he continues his career path, 2017 could be the year that Acosta becomes a household name in US Soccer.
There are big, big things destined for arguably the best Homegrown from a prolific academy but for, just sit back and enjoy the fluid two-way midfield play of Kellyn Acosta because you’ll tell your kids you saw him play one day.
2. Open an Argentine steakhouse
OK, I stole this one from our good friend and radio voice Steve Davis. Between Mauro Diaz, Maxi Urruti and Javier Morales, I could probably put my future kids through college…or at least as Brad C Tweeted in response we can open a yerba mate store. Might be cheaper.
3. Follow FC Dallas players as they look to qualify for World Cup 2018
Amazingly enough, FIFA World Cup 2018 is getting closer and closer with CONCACAF into the final qualifying stages. Maynor Figueroa(Honduras), Jose Salvatierra(Costa Rica) and Carlos Gruezo(Ecuador) are all established internationals with their countries who are looking to once again qualify for the World Cup while players like Kellyn Acosta, Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman will be looking to make their cases to get into the picture for the United States. Whatever country you cheer for, it’s a huge year for international soccer.
4. Come ready from day one
Starting hot has never really been an issue for FC Dallas who is 9-1-2 in the month of March under Oscar Pareja, but 2017 will be a pre-season unlike any other as the season truly starts on February 23rd with the home-and-home CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal vs Arabe Unido of Panama. Should Dallas win that, they will play the winner of Saprissa-Pachuca with the first leg coming between March 14th and 16th. Put it all together and you could have seven competitive matches before April 1st.
5. Convince Ryan Hollingshead to bring the man-bun back
C’mon man. Please.
6. Double down on youth
We know FC Dallas has always trended young with the Homegrown system, but in the 2016-2017 offseason, they’ve gotten even younger. As it currently stands, just three players on the FCD roster are aged 30 or over (Atiba Harris, Maynor Figueroa & Javier Morales), while a stunning 11 players are 23 years old or younger.
7. Find a good option on the wing opposite Michael Barrios
One of the finds of the season in MLS in 2015, Michael Barrios scored 16 goals for FC Dallas in MLS play since July 4th, 2015, but since the departure of Fabian Castillo life was tough for the diminutive Colombian. Without a dangerous option on the opposite wing, Barrios had just three goals and one assist in his last 15 games of the season. FC Dallas has brought in Belgian speedster Roland Lamah as well as Ecuadorian outside back Anibal Chala with the hopes of re-igniting that left wing.
8. Let the new Homegrowns breathe
FC Dallas made quite a splash in the Homegrown market this fall signing four players from the USSDA National Championship teams in Reggie Cannon, Jesus Ferreira, Paxton Pomykal and Bryan Reynolds with Ferreira and Reynolds both breaking the records for youngest player in franchise history. It’s easy to want to fast-track these young prospects to the pros, but it’s important to be patient with these youngsters. That Dallas Cup team will certainly be fun to watch though…
9. Get yourself a Walker Zimmerman jersey
Still just 23 years old, 2016 will always be remembered as the year where Walker Zimmerman went from potential to a full-blooded MLS professional. Zimmerman made 30 MLS starts for the club and tied for the MLS lead among defenders with four goals. He is rumored to be headed to USMNT camp in January and much like Acosta, if Zimmerman can continue his upward progression in 2017, you’re looking at a guy who could form a partnership with Matt Hedges that features the two best center backs in MLS.
10. Support local soccer coverage
We are very blessed in Dallas to have some of the best local soccer coverage in any city around the country. On the radio side, you’ve got The Kickaround, ESPN Soccer Today and The 19th Minute which are great live but if you can’t catch them on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning provide some amazing podcast material to get you through until the next FC Dallas game. On the digital side, you’ve got 3rd Degree covering all the news, Big D Soccer with some amazing analysis and a host of others giving FCD plenty of love. Support those who cover us and let’s grow this thing together!
11. Watch Carlos Gruezo for an entire match
Perhaps the most underrated signing in MLS in 2016 was Ecuadorian midfielder Carlos Gruezo. The second-youngest player to have started a match at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Gruezo is simply a joy to watch for the soccer purist. He’s not going to make the flashy play that gets on Sportscenter or the MLS Plays of the Week, but what he does is put himself in the perfect position every time. My favorite way to describe it is he’s playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. In 2017, go to a home game and just watch him even if it’s for only 30 minutes. His movement off the ball, the way he reads the way plays develop and breaks them down while perfectly distributing the ball up the field…just watch and enjoy.
12. Give Atiba Harris a hug the next time you see him
This guy is a treasure to have in Dallas. He’s doing amazing work in the community and stepping up at big times on the field. There’s a lot of competition in 2017 with probably the deepest roster this squad has ever had but Atiba will be right there in the mix.
13. Get your passport up-to-date
As I mentioned earlier, FC Dallas is going to be busy from day one preparing for CONCACAF Champions League and their participation in the 2017-2018 edition has already been assured as well. With a deep roster and now a player like Javier Morales to come in and fill in for Mauro Diaz, FCD is primed for a deep run. They’ll visit Panama for sure and will have either Costa Rica or Mexico awaiting them if they can advance from there with further international trips planned for the second half of the season. Why not take a trip yourself and follow the team on the road for an unforgettable adventure?! Get those passports updated.
14. Break the Homegrown record
One of the most memorable games of the Oscar Pareja era was in 2015 when FC Dallas won 3-0 at Columbus Crew SC while starting an MLS record five Homegrown players. With all the matches coming in 2017 as FCD again competes in three tournaments, the chance could be there to try and break that record and start six Homegrowns in a game. There are currently ten Homegrown players on the FCD roster.
15. Give the gift of FC Dallas
If you’re reading this, you know how great this team and the experience at Toyota Stadium is, but perhaps your friends have not drank the kool-aid yet. Get them out to the home opener and they’ll be hooked.