2007 Record: 13-12-5 (3rd in West)
Coach: Steve Morrow (2nd Year)
Key Players: Kenny Cooper, Pablo Richetti, Juan Carlos Toja
Key Pickups: Brek Shea (Drafted 2nd Overall), Dulio Davino (from Club America)
Key Losses: Carlos Ruiz (to L.A. Galaxy), Chris Gbandi (to FK Haugesund)
2008 Outlook: Average
The Hoops approach the 2008 season poised to improve on last year’s successful run. It should not be difficult for them to do so either so long as their fortunes continue to be controlled by their two South American stars.
There is perhaps no duo in MLS more effective in midfield than Juan Toja and Pablo Richetti. Toja in particular showed that he all the tools to become a perennial MLS all-star. Of course, he will likely be snatched up by a bigger foreign club before he plays in too many more MLS all-star games though, which is a shame because we will miss his flashy play and his Jim Morrison-inspired coif.
Dallas will miss Ruiz, no doubt. Kenny Cooper is now suddenly “the Man” up top for the former Burn due to Ruiz’s being dealt to the Galaxy. The cupboard is not entirely otherwise bare of forwards though as Abe Thompson is also a fine young player and should also contribute more this season.
On defense, Drew Moor will need to step up due to the departure of Gbandi. Moor has taken a beating on some soccer blogs the last week over his performance in the Mexico friendly. While he was legitimately beaten twice for goals, both were immaculately struck dead balls. I can’t make excuses for Moor, but I will assert that the feeling of redemption must have been sweet when he put a perfect cross on Altidore’s head for the U.S.’s second goal. He almost did it again in the second half. All things considered, Moor is one of the best young defenders in the league, and if he learns from last week’s mistakes, he will be stifling for Dallas this season. The addition of Davino in January should only make Moor and Dallas even more difficult to score on.
Dario Sala should begin the season in goal, but some reports have insinuated Ray Burse Jr. will eventually become the Hoops’ keeper. Burse is yet another young American keeper being lauded as the next big potential export, but he has not had the chance to prove he can be consistent as a starter at this level yet. Appropriately born in the town of Prospect, Kentucky, Burse could get an opportunity to challenge Sala for the job sooner rather than later though if the Argentine struggles in early matches.
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