The 2013 edition of FC Dallas will have a different look.Gone is the offensive production of midfielder Brek Shea in a $4 million deal to Stoke City of the English Premier League. Along with Shea goes three goals, two assists, a barrage of shots on net and the face of the franchise.That transfer fee gained by FC Dallas, however, allowed the organization to fill both the production and franchise player role with a familiar face from days past — Dallas native Kenny Cooper.Cooper was a precursor to what is now known in soccer as a “homegrown player.” After four years of high school soccer at Dallas Jesuit and a brief tour of duty in the EPL, Cooper began his MLS career with Dallas in 2006 and netted 40 goals for the squad in his four years. Cooper returned to Dallas during the off-season after tying his career high in goals with the New York Red Bulls last season.“I was very sad to see him go and then even more sad to see how well he played for New York this past year,” FC Dallas skipper Schellas Hyndman said.The team leader in single-season goals (18 in 2008) returns to the Dallas pitch at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against Colorado, excited for the unique opportunity to play again in front of friends and family, including his father, Kenny Cooper Sr., who played goalkeeper for the Dallas Tornado for 10 years.“I feel very fortunate to have had one opportunity to start my career in Dallas and not a lot of people have that opportunity to play in their hometown,” Cooper Jr. said. “I was able to do that once and went out to New York, and my wife’s family is out there and we were able to share the career with them. Now to come back to Dallas for a another time for the family is very unique.”The addition of Cooper, as well as forward Eric Hassli, gives FC Dallas a much-needed edge that was absent from Frisco last season, depth at the forward position.Forget the move from the 3-4 to the 4-3 at Valley Ranch; FC Dallas plans to move to a 4-4-2 formation — four defensemen, four midfielders and two forwards — to put more high-quality scorers on the field by swapping in another forward on top.Hyndman downplayed the difference the new formation will make overall, but agreed it will cause opponents to game-plan differently for his team, coming off a season in which FC Dallas finished one spot out of the last playoff opening.“Having two forwards on the field, I think we’re always going to have the presence of finishers and also we’ll be able to keep the opposition a little more careful to not think they only have one player to stop,” he said.For the coach, Saturday is the culmination of six weeks of training and a measuring stick for what kind of team he has for the rest of the season.“We worked so hard for the season opener,” Hyndman said. “So much pressure is not only on us but Colorado for that first win of the year. You have expectations and ambitions and it all comes down to that season opener to see how close you are to it.”
Colorado at FC Dallas
7:30 p.m. Saturday
FC Dallas Stadium, Frisco
The goalie battle
FC Dallas declined to renew goalie Kevin Hartman’s contract after last season, leaving the position open for Raul Fernandez and Chris Seitz. Fernandez might be the favorite to get the opening nod, but Seitz will see time in the frame when Fernandez plays for the Peruvian national team in international play.
Keep away from injury bug
Injuries to many key players last season tested the team’s depth. The money gained from the Brek Shea transfer allowed the team to bolster that depth, especially at the forward position. Should the team face injury trouble again, it has a better contingency plan this season.
Return of the captain
Coming off a league MVP season in 2010, midfielder David Ferreira lost most of 2011 and a large chunk of the 2012 season due to injury. The team saw his 21-point production in 2010 fall to 11 in 2012. Back at full strength in 2013, it will be important to FC Dallas’ success to see Ferreira return to the league-best playmaker he was just a few seasons ago.