The opening weekend of the 2014 season was certainly one to remember. Plenty of goals, interesting plays and fun times with replacement referees to discuss.
I took a few things away from what I saw this weekend from around the league. But the key item I keep stressing when I look at everything is that this is only week one, it is still very early to truly know where things are going this season.
Today's the day. It's finally here. The 2014 Major League Soccer Season is finally here. Now that the offseason is officially over and first kick-off is only hours away, we can finally take a look at the offseason as a whole and see who came out on top. Frankly, this offseason may have been the busiest and biggest offseason in Major League Soccer history.
A look at the West, for those of us from the East (image: logoinspirations.com)
New OTF contributor Cory Jensen brings you a detailed look at the teams we in Fireland only have the pleasure of meeting once a year...
In all reality, Major League Soccer's eastern conference has garnered all the preseason attention with Michael Bradley, Jermaine Defoe, DC United's reconstruction, and the impending introduction of NYCFC.
An 8-2-3 start saw FCD jump to the top of the table come summertime, but a 13-game winless streak that soon followed resulted in missing out on the playoffs and the parting of ways with head coach Schellas Hyndman at season's end.
You just can't get enough of MLS savant Stephen Mangat's .gif parade, can you?
MLS First Kick is right around the corner, so let's do it West Coast stylee...
San Jose Earthquakes
The Earthquakes are like this year's Barcelona (first time anyone has ever said that, I'm betting) still capable of hitting the heights of prior years, but not with the same consistency when the team was at its peak.
FC Dallas bolstered their forward line considerably on Friday with the acquisition of Uruguayan forward David Texeira.
FCD announced the signing of the former Groningen striker after securing his services as a young Designated Player. His arrival comes soon after FC Dallas also picked up Colombian forward/midfielder Andres Escobar on loan from Dynamo Kiev.
FC Dallas' 3-2 season opening win against Montreal was a thrilling, if not in the way you'd want to experience "thrilling", way to start a season.
Dallas' struggle to hold onto a lead is a historical trait for the club no matter who's coach or owner and season openers are also historically more about a display of nerves than calm, collected play.
With the MLS season about to start, we take a look at those who have left us.
Andrew Jacobson (FC Dallas)
Jacobson has been a starter under Schellas Hyndman for the past three years, but he appears to be the odd man out in Manager Oscar Pareja's 4-3-3. Following Hyndman's departure this Winter, FC Dallas poached Pareja from the Rapids.
Some FC Dallas supporters have been wondering exactly what the deal is with former FCD Academy midfielder Victor Ulloa? The Wylie native was signed as a Homegrown Player several years back but when his contract expired after last season, he was not offered a new deal. However, when Oscar Pareja was hired as FCD's new coach in January, Ulloa got a new lease on life and joined the team for preseason, accompanying the club on trips to the United Arab Emirates and Bradenton, Florida and earning favorable reviews for his play.
Okay, so maybe the headline is a bit misleading because like any coach no matter the sport, injuries are never their favorite subject. But there are a few pertinent injury-related issues surrounding FC Dallas right now, so here's what new head coach Oscar Pareja had to say about several injured players, including Eric Hassli.
On Friday, FC Dallas announced it had re-signed midfielder Victor Ulloa.
Ulloa, 22, grew up in Wylie and is a product of the FCD Academy. He appeared in just one game with the first team over the past three seasons and his contract was allowed to expire following last season. However, once Oscar Pareja was hired as Dallas' new coach in January, Ulloa, who had played for Pareja in the Academy, got a chance to make the club in preseason, which he did.
You may have fought the damp, cold conditions at Toyota Stadium, or watched the broadcast (did anyone listen to it on 100.7 "The Word?). But now, here's where we ask you to give your feedback on Pareja and his squad's first game of the season.
FC Dallas starts anew tonight in Frisco. New head coach, new jerseys and a significantly different, younger and less experienced roster. Along with all of that comes the sense the club has made several positive changes and things are looking up.
Moises Hernandez has spent most of the past two seasons picking up something most young players can never have too much of, playing experience. The now 21-year-old Dallas native spent last season in Costa Rica after spending much of 2012 in Guatemala and the FCD Academy product now returns to familiar surroundings in Frisco.
In part two of our 2014 season preview, we take a closer look at the eight teams that currently share the Western Conference with the Portland Timbers. Portland ended up finishing 2013 on top of the standings, but they'll have plenty of competition for the that level this season. Real Salt Lake advanced to MLS Cup but they'll need to adjust to a new coach, Los Angeles, FC Dallas and San Jose return their main core of players, while Seattle underwent a bit of an overhaul in their locker room while there still isn't a coach in charge of Colorado.
In a game that so many called a dress rehearsal for their season opener next Saturday against Montreal, FC Dallas looked lackluster at best in a 1-1 draw with San Antonio Scorpions SC of the NASL in the Alamo City.
Sure, there were some bright spots, like the strong presence of Hendry Thomas in the middle of the yard and ditto for rock-solid center back Matt Hedges.
In the NFL, most coaches treat the next to last preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the season opener. Well, FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja is treating Saturday's preseason finale against the San Antonio Scorpions of the NASL as a dress rehearsal for FCD's March 8 season opener against Montreal.
The bulk of FC Dallas matches will return to Time Warner Cable's SportsChannel for the 2014 season with six of the regular season matches airing on TXA21. The club also announced former FC Dallas goalkeeper, Kevin Hartman, will join the broadcast team as an analyst.
"We have two television partners in Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and TXA21 who believe in soccer and share our passion for the game," said FC Dallas President Dan Hunt.
One player who we honestly don't know a lot about is 2014 third-round pick Nicholas Walker, the center back from Fairleigh Dickinson in New Jersey. Walker, who hails from Trinidad and Tobago, accompanied FC Dallas on their trip to the United Arab Emirates and played in both matches against BK Hacken.
FC Dallas midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson has been called in by the Jamaican national team for a pair of international friendlies in early March. Watson, 30, who is beginning his second year with FCD and fourth season in MLS, will play for The Reggae Boyz on March 2 in Barbados.
With the recent additions of players like Andres Escobar, David Texeira and Hendry Thomas to the FC Dallas roster, one of the first players added this offseason, holding midfielder Adam Moffat, has been somewhat lost in the shuffle when discussing moves FCD has made since the end of last season.
Moffat was of course acquired from Seattle in the December deal that sent local product Kenny Cooper to Sounders FC.
After spending the second half of last season in Sweden, it appears that FC Dallas midfielder Bobby Warshaw is heading back to Scandinavia. According to a story on the official website of second-division side GAIS, who plays in the Superettan, Warshaw has signed a one-year contract with that club.
With the announcement on Friday afternoon that FC Dallas had purchased the rights to Uruguayan striker David Texeira from FC Groningen of Eridivisie, Holland's top division, one had to wonder what that signing might mean for several young strikers currently on the Dallas roster.
On Sunday, the day before FCD departed for its weeklong stay in Bradenton, Florida, new head coach Oscar Pareja announced the club was seeking to loan out Homegrown striker Bradlee Baladez and midfielder Bobby Warshaw.