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FC Dallas kicks off their new season this weekend at the Toyota Stadium against Toronto FC. Both sides had a forgettable 2021 season – finishing outside the playoff places in their respective conferences – and will be keen on a winning start this year.
The Texas side has an excellent record against their Canadian opponents, and have won each of their last three meetings while conceding just once in those matches. Take that further back and it’s four wins for Dallas in their last five games against Toronto. Toronto last beat Dallas in May 2016 at the BMO Field.
We grant that historical data is not always a reliable indicator of how things will go, but Toronto FC at the moment are one big rebuilding project, with overhauls starting right at the top with general manager Ali Curtis and head coach Javier Perez both leaving the club at the end of the last season, and Bob Bradley taking over as new head coach. There is a whole other list of exits that we will come to later, but Toronto FC this season will be all about trying to find a new roster, a new system, and dramatically different results than the 13th place they managed in the Eastern Conference last season. We think that they will play with some uncertainty in this game and that gives FC Dallas the edge – we back them to win.
FC Dallas made significant changes during the off-season, with Nico Estevez taking over as the new coach. The Toros sold promising American forward Ricardo Pepi to the Bundesliga side, FC Augsburg, and have gone out and spent the $20 million to make various prudent picks to plug some gaps in their roster.
They’ve made the addition of 19-year-old Argentinian winger Alan Velasco as Young DP for a handsome figure that is believed to be around the $10 million mark. He’s expected to man the wings and to make up for Pepi’s exit, Jesus Ferreira might don an interesting ‘False 9’ role. Also joining is experienced winger Paul Arriola, who was traded in from DC United for a record MLS intra-trade price of $2 million General Allocation Money plus additional GAM.
Estevez’s time with the USMNT has also meant that – in what was considered a pretty radical move – Dallas have brought in Marco Farfan from LAFC, with Ryan Hollingshead going the other way. All of this tells us there will be a massive change in playing style for them this season, potentially one that is geared for offensive moves that focus on overloads and wing play.
Whatever it is, it worked out in pre-season as they finished unbeaten in their four matches – scoring 9 goals and conceding just once.
Estevez will be looking to keep the run going when the season starts. Getting them to the playoffs will be the main aim – anything over that will be considered a bonus. Last season, they finished 3rd from the bottom in the Western Conference table with just seven wins from their 34 matches.
Toronto FC finished second in the 2020 edition of MLS, and were touted to push for the title in 2021. However, things didn’t go as planned as the Canadian side ended up second from the bottom in the Eastern Conference and the overall table.
The Reds have overhauled their squad after the drastic season that saw them win just six games. Jozy Altidore, Dom Dwyer, Yeferson Soteldo, Richie Laryea, and Omar Gonzalez are some of the top players to leave the club during the off-season, with the likes of Jesús Jiménez, Lukas MacNaughton, Shane O’Neill, and Greg Ranjitsingh coming in.
Toronto did manage to complete one big acquisition in the form of Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne, but the Italian will not be making his debut any time soon. He is set to remain with the Serie A side until the end of their season and join his new club in July.
New head coach Bob Bradley has his work cut out as his side has not shown any significant improvement in pre-season. They managed wins over LAFC and Austin FC, but lost to LA Galaxy, Chicago Fire, and Houston Dynamo.
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|FC Dallas vs Toronto FC Information
|FC Dallas vs Toronto FC
|Toyota Stadium, Texas, USA
|Saturday, February 26 at 5.30 pm EST
|How to watch
|MLS LIVE on ESPN+
Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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