SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 22: Simon Dawkins #10 of the San Jose Earthquakes battles Milton Rodriguez #7 of the FC Dallas for the ball during an MLS game at Buck Shaw Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Tony Medina/Getty Images)
I'm bringing back the feature from last year where we track the ebbs and flows of the FC Dallas roster as we move towards opening day. There are 20 senior roster spots and 10 off-budget roster spots to track. As a reminder, the 20 senior roster spots count towards the team's 2011 salary while spots 19 and 20 are not required to be filled. Players 1-24 of the roster earn at least $42,000 while players 25-30 earn at least $32,600. Each club gets eight international roster spots but can trade for more. For the full MLS roster rules, click here.
NOTE: This is how the roster currently stands and does not account for possible future signings. This is all very subject to change.
Slam dunk 2012 senior roster spots
1. Kevin Hartman - As I said yesterday, Hartman is perhaps the most professional player in MLS. He will turn 38 during this season so he likely has a couple years left, but for 2012 there is no question who the starting goalkeeper is.
3. Jair Benitez(I1) - Starting left back who signed a new contract last year. He's becoming one of the most tenured players in Dallas and is never dull to watch.
5. Zach Loyd - Starting right back and US Men's National Team member. Could be signed to a new contract at some point this season, a fan favorite and one of the team leaders.
6. David Ferreira(I2) - The 2010 MVP returns from injury in 2012 and how he returns could decide whether Dallas is a championship contender or also ran.
7. Daniel Hernandez - Team captain who returns after another off-season knee surgery. Certainly the d-mid starter, but how much does he have left in the tank?
8. Brek Shea - Face of the franchise who is with the national team right now. Will miss a significant chunk of time this season playing in World Cup Qualifying and Olympics. Last season in Frisco?
9. Andrew Jacobson - The pickup of the 2011 for FCD, was fantastic when healthy but played injured the last few months of the season. Back and better than ever in 2012, one of the x factors on the team.
10. Fabian Castillo(I3) - Colombian former U20 international who needs to shoulder more of the offensive load this year. Will get plenty of playing time with Shea out.
11. Bruno Guarda - Played some really good soccer towards the middle of the year before getting injured. 2012 is a make or break year for him.
12. Blas Perez(I4) - Panama international forward, marquee signing of the 2012 offseason. Alpha dog forward up top who should finish off the chances created by Shea and Ferreira.
13. Carlos Rodriguez(I5) - Yet to be announced(possibly today) Panama former youth international outside back from Tauro FC
14. Hernan Pertuz(I6) - Colombian former U23 international center back, looks to compete for the starting job with Matt Hedges if George John doesn't return.
Fighting for their job in 2012
16. Daniel Cruz(I8) - Similar situation to Villar, Cruz is cheaper, however, and has somewhat of a better resume. Could Cruz and Villar be fighting for one spot?
17. Jack Stewart - Center back who came on loan from Minnesota of the NASL in 2011 as emergency cover. Fairly impressive in his time, likely fighting for a last roster spot.
18. George John - He is still an on-roster player for FC Dallas as he is currently on loan at West Ham. If the Hammers choose not to purchase him, John should be the starting center back for Dallas. There is now ample coverage if he leaves, however. Schellas has said it is "50-50."
19. Christian Ibeagha - I've been told former Duke defender Christian Ibeagha is technically a rostered player right now through the pre-season, it's a weird situation. He's a right back and will be fighting for a roster spot. I find it unlikely he makes the squad with the signing of Rodriguez but we will see.
2012 Off-budget/Developmental roster
1. Ruben Luna - Homegrown forward, scored his first MLS goal in San Jose and led reserve division in goals. Breakout season in 2012?
2. Bryan Leyva - Homegrown offensive midfielder, former Mexican youth international. Once he gains full fitness, could make a gameday roster or two in 2012.
3. Moises Hernandez - FCD left back of the future? Will be interesting to see if he takes a step forward in 2012, the time is running out on him.
4. Victor Ulloa - Looks bigger, stronger and more mature in 2012. Made it into the last game of the regular season and will have a bigger role this year.
5. Jonathan Top - Very young homegrown forward, still needs a couple years to develop.
6. Andrew Wiedeman(GA) - Should make an impact at right mid and right back this year. There is a spot there for the taking.
7. Richard Sanchez - Homegrown goalkeeper, Mexican U17 World Cup champion and called into U20 camp. Called the best goalkeeper for his age Schellas Hyndman has ever seen. FCD's #3 in 2012.
8. Bobby Warshaw - Still a bit rough around the edges, but he is a vocal leader among the younger players and should backup Daniel Hernandez at d mid.
9. Matt Hedges - National Champion at UNC, first round center back selection for FC Dallas. Long term replacement for George John?
Scott Sealy, Scott Gordon, Martin John, Alex Lee, Walter Hines, Ian Kalis
As you can see, there are probably 3-4 spots up for grabs on the senior/developmental roster. I listed Warshaw and Hedges as developmental, but they could easily be moved to the senior roster depending on the team's roster needs. There are currently eight internationals by my count, with Cruz/Villar as the most likely candidates on the chopping block if Dallas looks to add someone else internationally like Scott Sealy. Stay tuned as we track this weekly or bi-weekly as needed.