The I's still need to be dotted and the T's crossed, but all signs are pointing to the addition of Colombian U20 International forward Fabian Castillo and possibly one of his Deportivo Cali strike partners, Andres "Manga" Escobar.
While it's not surprising at all that FCD would be looking to bring in one, and possibly two forwards, it is completely out of the blue that Dallas would spend this much on an 18 year old forward that doesn't really fit the mold of what Schellas Hyndman wants from his lone striker in the 4-1-4-1 formation.
Milton Rodriguez, Hyndman's starting striker going into 2011, may not be the ultra-sexy forward that's going to be lighting up MLS message boards across the internet, but the 34-year-old does everything that Hyndman needs in providing strong hold up play and finishing his chances. Milton had 5 goals in 13 games last year, a respectable strike rate and Rodriguez hasn't been a slouch in pre-season either netting four goals in early 2011.
However, you don't spend $800,000(or whatever the transfer fee is) on someone who is going to sit on the bench so where does Fabian Castillo fit into this FC Dallas team and what is the thinking behind bringing in the young Colombian.
"An Opportunity You Can't Refuse"
Perhaps some of the thinking behind bringing in Castillo is not passing up a player of his caliber and potential when offered the chance to sign him at a reasonable price. Those of you who play Football Manager know just how hard it is to get the type of player that big European clubs are looking at and signing Castillo is a unique chance to prove to South American clubs that your team is a legitimate place to move from your home country and raise your transfer fee before moving on to Europe.
Oscar Pareja, an invaluable asset to FC Dallas that seems to be given a much bigger role in the club for 2011, was likely the impetus behind this deal and as I'm sure most of you feel, if Oscar says a guy is worth signing you bring him in.
"A win-win proposition"
Along those same lines, I'm sure Dallas would love to become a club where young South American talent can come to play for a couple of years and then ship off to Europe at a nice profit.
I really think that the partnership with Atletico Paranaense was the game changer in this shift of philosophy in Dallas. One of the legacies that former GM Michael Hitchcock left at Pizza Hut Park, was an impression on the Hunts, through the partnership with CAP, on just how much money can be made working in the European transfer business.
This is not to say that moves like signing Castillo aren't made with the mind of improving FC Dallas, quite the opposite. Castillo instantly brings a flair to FCD that will get people out of their seats and create a buzz inside the stadium every time the youngster touches the ball. It really makes a ton of sense to bring a guy like Castillo, whose price may have been cut a little bit due to poor performance in the South American U20 Championship, away from the Colombian pressure cooker environment into Frisco to learn from Ferreira, Pareja and co. Develop his game over the next two or three years and hopefully if things go to plan you sell him on to Europe for a nice profit when you can both pocket and also use to improve the squad.
We'll discuss more in depth the impact on the lineup and how the FCD style of play could change this season later, but Castillo adds another devastating element to the Dallas attack. If they decide to go to a 4-4-2, Dallas can pair Castillo with Milton to create a lineup with amazing counter attack potential. Ideally you have a combination of John, Ihemelu, Loyd, Jacobson and Hernandez in the center who gets the ball to Ferreira or Milton as quickly as they can. Once of those two holds up the ball, they have options streaking down both the right and left sides in Shea and Chavez while Castillo makes the speedy run down the center.
Schellas Hyndman knows the importance of speed in MLS, a league that puts much more emphasis on physical fitness rather than technical ability, and Castillo adds a speed to the FCD stable of forwards that Luna, Rodriguez and Galindo don't have to offer.
"Two Steps Ahead"
It's been mentioned many times that the 4-1-4-1 is not Schellas Hyndman's preferred system, but something he kind of stumbled into in 2010 that worked like a charm. The future of FC Dallas is a 4-4-2 formation, likely with Bobby Warshaw, Andrew Jacobson or Zach Loyd as the holding midfielder, and the signing of Castillo is a move that could pay off as Dallas makes the slow transition to the 4-4-2. I don't think it will happen any time in the coming weeks, but it is something FCD is working on as we see from yesterday's practice report. Finding the right forward to pair with Ruben Luna in 2012 is surely something on Schellas Hyndman's mind and perhaps they see Castillo as that guy so why not bring him in now.
Am I maybe putting too much thought into this? Perhaps, but those who have been following Dallas for as long as I have know just what a shift in thinking and philosophy this potential move is. FC Dallas spending a significant transfer fee on an 18 year old is about a lot more than just making the team better in 2011 and I couldn't be happier to see this sort of thing happening at our little club in Frisco.