FRISCO, TX - JULY 02: Tom Heinemann #32 of the Columbus Crew (L) is tripped up by Ugo Ihemelu #3 of the FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park on July 2, 2011 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
The two biggest needs have been addressed, Blas Perez at starting forward and Hernan Pertuz at backup center back, but where can FC Dallas still improve as we sit a week and a half from the start of pre-season? Let's take a look...
1. Another forward
Blas Perez is the starter with Castillo and Luna sitting behind them, but I think Dallas could do well to find a forward that has scored a few goals in the league before. You can certainly envision games this year where Brek Shea and Blas Perez are both unavailable for national team duty which leaves Fabian Castillo as Shea's backup on the left and only Ruben Luna as a forward option.
Where to look Maybe it's a guy from the USL that has been scoring a lot or maybe even a guy like Maicon Santos if he's willing to come back at a reduced price. I would shy away from the draft for this need as Dallas has enough young forwards, they need a veteran who can challenge Perez in practice and be ready when called upon.
Urgency level Not necessarily something you need right away. It's not the end of the world if you go into training camp with the forwards you have plus another trialist or two. The need will become bigger as the season goes on and World Cup Qualifying kicks into full gear this summer
2. An offensive midfield wing spark
FCD needs another Eric Avila. Castillo can be brought in, but he's not the midfield creator that Eric Avila was. I'd love for Dallas to add a little more balance to the side by adding a player who can play on the right or the left and send in a good cross. Perhaps they have that player already on the roster in Bryan Leyva, but he hasn't quite proven to be ready for the big time yet.
Where to look There will be a few different offensive winger options in the draft, one of which being Sam Garza, which I studied last week. I think this is the kind of player Dallas could chase through the draft or supplemental draft. Maybe Dallas could bring someone on loan from a club like Tigres to fill a spot. For Bryan Leyva this is certainly a chance to get some playing time.
Urgency level This needs to be addressed from pre-season as it's a spot of need on the roster right now. In a seven man bench you ideally have 1 GK, 2 defenders, 2 midfielders and 2 forwards. You have Fabian Castillo, so the top bench offensive spot is taken, but after that there's a weakness.
3. One More Defender
We know George John, Ugo Ihemelu and Hernan Pertuz are the top three but after that it's kind of a mystery. If you have to dig deeper than that, you're probably moving Zach Loyd to center back and finding someone to take his place at right back which means Dallas could really use a defender that can play ether center back or right back.
Where to look If Dallas chooses to take an offensive midfielder in the draft, there will probably be an open roster spot for 3 or 4 trialists. Dallas could go the other route and take a guy like Aaron Maund at Notre Dame or whatever center back they rate the highest that's left on the board. It's a shame that Okwuono at North Carolina needs another year of seasoning because he fits the bill pretty well. Finding backup center backs through trade in MLS is super easy as well.
Urgency level Not super high, George John isn't going anywhere for awhile and we need to wait and see how Pertuz looks in MLS. The hope is that someone impresses you a bunch in pre-season and makes the need to sign through trade or homegrown a moot issue in 2012.
Any needs that I've missed? Where do you think FC Dallas can still improve the roster?