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MLS Team Guide: FC Dallas

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Ahead of the 2021 MLS season, Richard Fleming introduces us to the teams set to face the Colorado Rapids, starting with FC Dallas, a club which shares a long and rich history with the boys in burgundy.

First season in MLS: 1996 (as Dallas Burn)
Honors: Western Conference champions (2010), Supporters’ Shield winners (2016), U.S. Open Cup winners (1997, 2016)

Stadium: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
Head Coach: Luchi Gonzalez (appointed, December 2018)

History with the Rapids
These two MLS originals first met on April 21, 1996 in Denver for the Rapids’ home opener of the inaugural season, and only their second game in the league. The Rapids beat the then-named Dallas Burn 3-1. The most significant match between the sides came in 2010, when the pair contested MLS Cup in Toronto, with the Rapids emerging triumphant. Dallas edged the Rapids in 2016 in a battle for the Supporters’ Shield.

Head-to-head record: 24-34-17
Last meeting: L 4-1, 9/16/20 at Toyota Stadium

2020 Season
FC Dallas finished sixth in the Western Conference in 2020, with 34 points from their 22 games. This included an unbeaten record of 7-0-3 at home, but a less-than-impressive 1-5-3 record on the road.

Franco Jara was the team’s top scorer, with seven goals from 19 games (16 starts). Michael Barrios led the way in assists, with five. Ryan Hollingshead was something of a surprise package. He was joint second top scorer, with four goals, all of which were game winners.

They went to Portland Timbers in the first round of the playoffs. A stoppage-time equalizer from Ricardo Pepi took the tie to extra-time, before the Texas team progressed with a win in the penalty shootout, 8-7. Their season ended on December 1 when they were downed 1-0 at Seattle Sounders, as former Colorado Rapids defender Shane O’Neill scored the game’s only goal.

Offseason Highlights
Among the new faces acquired during the offseason is center back Jose Antonio Martinez from Spanish club SD Eibar. Martinez joined Eibar in 2018 but never made a first-team appearance. He did, though, make 56 appearances on loan with Granada during that spell, helping earn promotion from the second division to La Liga in 2019.

They also signed Jáder Obrian from Rionegro Águilas of the Colombian first division. While there, he scored 27 goals in 68 appearances. The 25-year-old Colombian striker played alongside Michael Barrios when with Uniautónoma FC. Barrios departed Dallas for Colorado in mid-January.

Two days after Barrios joined the Rapids, FC Dallas announced that they had signed Venezuelan winger Freddy Vargas on loan from Deportivo Lara. Vargas, 22 on April 1, favors the left wing. He made more than 100 appearances for Venezuelan first division side Deportivo Lara, and also has Copa Libertadores experience.

Dallas acquired the homegrown rights of winger Kalil ElMedkhar from Philadelphia Union. They also signed midfielder Nicky Hernandez, who they selected 15th overall in the 2021 SuperDraft.

* There were also new deals for defender Bressan and goalkeeper Phelipe Megiolaro. Bressan signed a multi-year deal and Megiolaro returns on another one-year loan from Brazilian club Gremio.

One key departure for Dallas during the offseason is that of right-back, Bryan Reynolds. The homegrown defender joined Italian club AS Roma, initially on loan, at the start of February. He signed for a club record fee, with the move to become permanent at the end of the six-month loan spell.

Luchi Gonzalez also lost Reggie Cannon (Boavista) toward the end of 2020, as well as Czech Republic forward Zdeněk Ondrášek.

Players To Watch
Jesús Ferreira: started his first MLS match on March 23, 2019 vs. Colorado Rapids, scoring eight goals and managing six assists in 33 appearances that year (29 starts). He continued to be a regular in 2020, and is currently with the U23s at Olympic qualifying in Mexico. He also scored for the senior side against T&T in January.

Franco Jara: the team's top scorer in 2020, his first season in MLS. He has previously played in Portugal and Greece, and was a CONCACAF Champions League winner with Pachuca.

Jáder Obrian: new signing Obrian nicknamed "The Soldier", scored 13 goals in 22 matches with Rionegra last year. He had 27 goals in 68 appearances with the club over the last two seasons.

Ricardo Pepi: another homegrown, Pepi signed midway through 2019, making seven substitute appearances that season. He had four starts in 17 regular season games in 2020, bagging his first goal in the second game of the season, a 2-2 home tie with Montreal Impact.

Tanner Tessmann: once a budding football kicker, Tessmann signed a homegrown contract in February 2020. He made 19 appearances in his rookie season, and has since featured for the USMNT against Trinidad & Tobago in January, and for the U23s at the Olympic qualifiers in Mexico.

Freddy Vargas: a new signing, Vargas has featured for the Venezuelan U20s. He made 113 career appearances with Deportivo Lara, with five goals and four assists, playing primarily on the left during his time there.

In: Jose Antonio Martinez, Kalil ElMedkhar, Nicky Hernandez, Jader Obrian, Beni Redzic, Szabolcs Schön, Freddy Vargas.
Out: Pablo Aránguiz, Michael Barrios, Justin Che (on loan to Bayern Munich until June), Santiago Mosquera, Callum Montgomery, Fafa Picault, Bryan Reynolds, Thiago Santos, Brandon Servania (on loan at SKN St. Polten until the end of the Austrian Bundesliga season), Reto Ziegler.

Meetings in 2021:
FC Dallas is one of seven sides the Rapids will face three times during the regular season. They meet in Dallas on the first weekend of the campaign (April 17), before home games on May 29 and July 21. They face Dallas three times in the opening 13 games.

Click HERE for the full Rapids schedule.

Did You Know?
Willie Nelson will perform a postgame concert at Toyota Stadium after the game against Real Salt Lake on May 22, as part of the 2021 National Soccer Hall of Fame Weekend.

When the Rapids meet FC Dallas at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park on May 29, it will be a second of three matchups in 2021, and will come exactly 25 years to the day since their second meeting of the inaugural 1996 season.

Dallas homegrown striker Jesús Ferreira is the son of David Ferreira, the league MVP in 2010. He scored the opening goal of the 2010 MLS Cup for Dallas.

The Rapids open the 2021 season at FC Dallas on April 17. It will be the fourth time the Rapids have opened the season at Dallas. They were beaten via the shootout method in 1998, despite Dallas Burn playing the final 23 minutes with 10 men after former Colorado Foxes midfielder Ted Eck was sent off. In 2004, Chris Henderson was dismissed three minutes from time for the Rapids in a 1-1 draw, while 2013 opened with a 1-0 win for Dallas after a mistake by goalkeeper Stew Ceus.