FC Dallas in Conference Finals
As a DFW sports fan, there’s a lot to be thankful for this week. TCU football is 9-2 and headed into a game with Baylor where they can secure both third place in the conference and a top tier bowl game with a win. The Dallas Mavericks are 9-6 and sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference, which is exceeding all expectations set for the team at the start of the year. And the Dallas Stars are off to the best start in franchise history with their 17-5-0 record and tied for most points in the NHL. But, there is another team that is having great success this year that often gets overlooked by DFW sports fans – FC Dallas.
After finishing in first place in the Western Conference with 60 points on the season, FC Dallas is playing in the MLS Western Conference Finals against the Portland Timbers this Sunday (November 29). Despite trailing 3-1 on aggregate goals heading into the match, FC Dallas has the firepower to be able to come back and win to send themselves to the MLS championship game.
The team trailed only the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference for total goals during the season with their total of 52. Colombian star Fabian Castillo had a breakout year with his 9 goals that led the team. Castillo is not the only international star that has made an impact for FC Dallas this season. Argentine midfielder Mauro Diaz led the team in assists with 10 and also contributed 8 goals on the campaign. Castillo had 9 assists on the season which made the 1-2 punch of Castillo and Diaz pretty lethal.
In goal, the team had a very strong trio of keepers who made it very difficult all year for opponents to put the ball in net. Combined, the trio had 13 shutouts and allowed just 39 goals. Dan Kennedy, who saved 30 of the 48 shots that he faced this season, was selected first overall in the MLS dispersal draft this past season after the contraction of Chivas USA, his former club. He was considered one of the best keepers in the MLS for the last couple of seasons but adapted well to a shared goalkeeping format with FC Dallas that really helped the team succeed this year.
This is the 20th season for FC Dallas in the MLS, but it is just the second time that they have finished first in the Western Conference (2006). However, unlike that season, FC Dallas seems ready to repeat its success for the next couple of seasons at least. They are built with a lot of young talent and have a fan base that is starting to get excited about this team. In the last two seasons, the attendance for the team has gone up nearly 10 percent. This means that people are starting to pay attention to one of the best teams in DFW, and if they continue to go to games they will be able to fund a team that is trying to keep its young talent from leaving at the end of the season.
In the next five years, I think that FC Dallas has a chance to continue to gain popularity and continue to have success on the field. I think that it is likely that this team will start to be talked about on local sports radio, and it has the capability to convert a lot of DFW sports fans to soccer fans. A win on Sunday against the Portland Timbers will go a long way towards helping them get the recognition that they deserve in their home market.