...when it comes to transfer policy. Put your knives down: this won't be a tirade on ticket pricing.
Every major gap in Pareja's master plan has been covered. Happy now?
The unusual lack in offseason drudgery that has characterized all too many offseasons since 2009 is gone. Can we at least have a Pipico to scapegoat?
Past transfer flops aside, it's becoming clearer to see that Pareja, Clavijo, and the Hunts clearly know what they're doing. Namely, after much consternation caused in other areas of the FC Dallas world (ticket price hikes, ahem), they've bucked the naysaying and truly improved the squad where it's been needed most. I'll also take this moment to eat some humble pie - please don't read anything from me written during the early weeks of December.
Forward depth and open competition? Urruti, Lizarazo, and Akindele are 25, 24, and 23 respectively. No clear starter present and everything to be gained. Check.
Midfield cover? Swiftly covered. 20 year-old World Cup veteran signed. Six-figure transfer fee (gasp!) paid for Gruezo. Columbian league veteran Ortiz acquired, giving the midfield and forwards more flexibility in case of a switch from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-2-2-2.
Center back depth? World Cup veteran signed. Academy youth brought in.
It's perhaps #tissuegate that explains this most: Pareja et al. don't like losing, but they hate losing to Caleb Porter's Portland in that fashion. And whatever has stuck in the craw of the front office and head coach since November has driven the most aggressive transfer window in FCD history.
Dan Hunt signed a check for a six figure transfer fee. Repeat it yourself. Take a swig of a Velvet Hammer. Let Peticolas help you chew on that idea for a bit. If you repeat it three times in front of the mirror in a dark bathroom, be ready to have Carlos Ruiz standing beside you when the lights come back on.
But even the intra-MLS trades, re-entry draft acquisitions, and SuperDraft (it's really the superest of all drafts) have all panned out well. Superdraft acquisition Timo Pitter, our second-ever German national (Mandi Urbas, 3 appearances and 13 years ago, was the first), has put in quite the offseason shift and could very well see quality minutes off the bench this year.
Veteran acquisitions in the form of Mauro Rosales epitomize FCD's offseason power grab. He's not the 2011 MLS Newcomer of the Year any longer. He's 35, but he slots in nicely behind Mauro Diaz, doesn't cost Dallas much of a pretty penny, and can deputize in the event (sadly a likely event) we see Mauro out for at least a stint this year. Maynor Figueroa, the Honduran international and veteran of the 2010 World Cup and Premier League, was a tidy bit of business considering FCD parted with allocation money and in the meantime brought in someone who covers two positions along the back line. The overall message is that depth won't be as much of an issue as it has been in the past.
Dan, Fernando, Oscar: you've done well. Exceedingly well? It remains to be seen. Anything short of a MLS Cup final appearance and questions will come. We're a fickle many. But this much activity isn't something we're used to. We're used to James Marcelin. We're used to Erick.
According to people who may-or-may-not be editors of this site, FCD has been running circles around the league since December. It's easy to agree.
But credit should be given where it's due. If this is the club's best offseason in its short history it is also Clavijo's. Since March 2012 he's been the technical director and a driving force of transfers to the club. There has been Pipico. There has been Erick. But there has also been Diaz and Barrios during this time. Bringing back Pareja two years ago clearly was key. Marrying Oscar's talent with Clavijo's ambition may be even more influential. A three year learning curve is more than enough to hone a vision, and it seems that is in fact happening in Frisco.