Dallas, Montreal hoping for improved results under new coaches
Frisco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - There will be new faces on the sidelines at Toyota Stadium as both FC Dallas and the Montreal Impact break in new head coaches during their season-opening clash.
Montreal heads to Texas under the direction of former Chicago Fire boss Frank Klopas, who took over after last season for Marco Schallibaum.
Under Schallibaum the Impact got off to a great start last year but faded badly down the stretch, leading to a quick playoff exit at the hands of the Houston Dynamo.
That collapse led to Schallibaum's departure and leaves Montreal with a third different head coach to start the season in its three-year existence in MLS.
The club did little in the way of significant acquisitions in the offseason, while parting ways with veterans Alessandro Nesta and Davy Arnaud.
One of the biggest questions facing Klopas is how much help leading scorer Marco Di Vaio will have.
The Italian netted 20 goals last term but will need bigger contributions from players like Andrew Wenger and Blake Smith if Montreal is going to take the next step.
Age is another factor facing the Impact as some of the club's key pieces, including midfielder Patrice Bernier, Di Vaio and defender Matteo Ferrari are each 34 years of age or older.
A potential wild card for Montreal is 21-year-old Uruguayan forward Santiago Gonzalez, who brings with him considerable potential but is an unknown commodity in MLS.
After six seasons under head coach Schellas Hyndman, Dallas decided to go in another direction as well this offseason with Oscar Pareja taking the reigns following a two-year stint with the Colorado Rapids.
Pareja wasted little time in shaping the team to his image as he jettisoned veterans David Ferreira, Kenny Cooper and Jackson, while bringing in Adam Moffat, Hendry Thomas and young forwards Andres Escobar and Tesho Akindele.
Escobar was acquired on loan from Dynamo Kiev while Akindele was taken with the sixth overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft.
That duo will join Fabian Castillo and Eric Hassli up top, while Pareja must hope that a back line of Jair Benitez, Matt Hedges, George John and Zach Loyd can improve upon last season's performance, which saw the club ship 52 goals in 34 games on its way to an eighth-place finish in the Western Conference.