Seeing red: What to watch for as FC Dallas opens season

03/07/2014 12:43 PM

03/07/2014 12:44 PM

FC Dallas kicks off its season Saturday, and fans will be seeing red.

A lot of red.

The Major League Soccer club, which opens its campaign at 7:30 p.m. against the Montreal Impact at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, has updated its home uniform. In that process, FC Dallas has decided to do away with its traditional red and white horizontal “hoops” design.

Instead, the home uniform will feature an all-red jersey.

The new shirt actually has two tones of slightly different red — both deep and bold. The shirt design still features red-on-red horizontal stripes, but they’re subtle. Without the alternating bands of white stripes to break up all the scarlet hues, it mostly just looks like solid red, especially from a distance.

With the change — which is part of a broader move by MLS to give every club at least one new fashion look this season — FC Dallas is perhaps staking a claim as the reddest professional sports team in the Metroplex.

The Texas Rangers baseball club, after wearing predominantly red uniforms from 1994 to 1999, is better known for its Texas flag-like red, white and blue ensemble.

While FC Dallas gets ready for what supporters hope is a red-letter season on the gorgeous grass at Toyota Stadium, fans who want to buy a jersey to show support for their favorite team had better bring along a lot of green. Authentic adult jerseys are listed for about $120, and youth jerseys $65, on the league’s official MLSgear.com website.

The club’s alternate uniform will remain a more classic-looking combination of blue and white horizontal stripes.

But enough about the laundry.

FC Dallas fans can also expect many other changes on the field. Some things to look for:

New boss

Longtime popular player Oscar Pareja is returning to North Texas to take the helm as the sixth coach in FC Dallas’ history.

Pareja arrives a few months after the departure of Schellas Hyndman, who had managed FC Dallas since 2008 and led the club to the 2010 finals. Hyndman left in October, saying the players needed a new voice.

With Pareja’s arrival, fans hope for a return to the MLS playoffs after a two-year absence.

The Colombian midfielder played with the then-Dallas Burn from 1998 to 2005 and was a fan favorite, racking up 13 goals and 47 assists. He later rejoined FC Dallas, and directed the club’s youth program. He also was an instrumental part of the U.S. under-17 men’s national team, before taking over as coach of the Colorado Rapids.

A few other changes have been made in the front office. Earlier this year, FC Dallas Chairman Clark Hunt introduced his brother Dan Hunt as president of FC Dallas. In that role, Dan Hunt will oversee business operations of the senior club as well as FC Dallas Youth.

New players

FC Dallas lost its tall and popular forward Kenny Cooper, who is now with Seattle, but potentially could have a more formidable attack with additions such as Uruguay forward David Texeira and Colombian forward Andres Ramiro Escobar.

Texeira, who just turned 23, is being brought in from Dutch team FC Groningen. Escobar is on loan from Ukranian club Dynamo Kiev.

The club also is bringing back Blas Perez, a Panamanian who missed several games last year on international duty — something that shouldn’t be an issue this season, with Panama not qualifying for the FIFA World Cup.

The addition of Honduran Hendry Thomas from the Colorado Rapids, and midfielder Adam Moffat for Kenny Cooper’s negotiating rights in Seattle, should shore up things defensively.

TV deal

A potpourri of broadcast partners will escort FC Dallas games to the airwaves. Time Warner Cable Sports Channel will air 24 games. Meanwhile, KTXA/21 will handle six games. The remaining four matches will be televised nationally on ESPN2, NBC Sports Network or UniMas.

Mark Followill will handle most play-by-play duty, while occasionally leaving those duties to KTCK/1310 AM and 96.7 FM’s Bob Sturm.

Kevin Hartman, who was a goalkeeper on that 2010 FC Dallas team that made it to the finals, returns to Frisco to join the broadcast team. He joins analysts Dante Washington and Steve Jolley.

Attendance

FC Dallas began in 1996 as the Dallas Burn, and was one of the league’s original 10 charter members. But of late the club hasn’t exactly dazzled at the turnstiles, especially compared to several of the newer clubs in the soccer-mad Pacific Northwest.

Last season, FC Dallas averaged 15,373 fans at Toyota Stadium, according to Soccer America. That’s the sixth-lowest attendance among MLS’ 19 teams — although FC Dallas’ turnstile business last season was an 8 percent hike from the previous year.

The league leader in attendance — by a mile — is the Seattle Sounders, who averaged a league record 44,038 fans per game. League average attendance was 18,608.

The poorest showing at the ticket window was Chivas USA, a Los Angeles-area team that has being taken over by the league in anticipation of being rebranded next year. The Goats, as Chivas USA is nicknamed, averaged only 8,366 spectators.

FC Dallas schedule

Date Opponent Time
Saturday vs. Montreal 7:30 p.m.
Sunday at KC 7:30 p.m.
March 22 vs. Chivas USA 8:30 p.m.
March 29 vs. Portland 7:30 p.m.
April 5 at Houston 7 p.m.
April 12 vs. Seattle 7:30 p.m.
April 19 vs. Toronto 7:30 p.m.
April 26 at D.C. 6 p.m.
May 4 vs. New York 2 p.m.
May 7 at Seattle 9 p.m.
May 10 at San Jose 9:30 p.m.
May 17 vs. Chivas USA 7:30 p.m.
May 21 at L.A. 9:30 p.m.
May 24 at Salt Lake 8:30 p.m.
May 31 vs. San Jose 7:30 p.m.
June 7 vs. Colorado 7:30 p.m.
June 11 at Portland 9 p.m.
June 28 at Columbus 7 p.m.
July 4 vs. Philadelphia 8 p.m.
July 19 vs. New England 8 p.m.
July 27 at Vancouver 4 p.m.
Aug. 3 at Chivas USA 8 p.m.
Aug. 9 vs. Colorado 8 p.m.
Aug. 16 at San Jose 9:30 p.m.
Aug. 22 vs. Salt Lake 8 p.m.
Aug. 30 at Chicago 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 9 at Salt Lake 9 p.m.
Sept. 13 vs. Vancouver 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 20 at L.A. 9:30 p.m.
Sept. 24 vs. Seattle 8 p.m.
Oct. 4 at Vancouver 6 p.m.
Oct. 12 vs. L.A. 6 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Colorado 2 p.m.
Oct. 25 vs. Portland 7:30 p.m.

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