The silly season is upon us and the first hammer dropped in the 2012-2013 off-season as FCD cut ties with Ruben Luna, Bryan Leyva, Bruno Guarda and Matias Jara. The second two of these moves were not really terribly surprising as Bruno has appeared in two games since April and Jara did not log a competitive minute for Dallas. A few thoughts on today's moves:
Culture Change The cuts of Leyva and Luna, however, represent what seems to be a changing dynamic among the homegrowns on the FC Dallas roster and that is, camp cupcake is over, you either continue to develop or stall out and get cut. Gone are the days of having two years to prove yourself as from here on out there will be options of graduating(or upperclass) college players like Woodberry, Ambrose, Okwuono, Garcia, Baladez and so on and so on are nipping at your heels.
Leyva The thing you can see from watching practically hundreds of practices and dozens of games is the skill on display. The thing you can't really know is just how fit a player is and exactly how they fit into the locker room setup. Leyva's talent is undeniable but in this age, there is no hiding from the fitness tests. People may wonder why Leyva, a player with so obvious skill, is not being retained and all I can say is he's been told to up his fitness levels time after time and this roster cut makes it sound like it never happened. He's had three years to get it through his head, most kids in Europe and South America would get three weeks.
There is a much better than zero chance that Leyva will go to Mexico and catch on with a team and I hope he does. I think his skill set works much better south of the border than it does in the American game.
Luna I'm really sad to see Ruben Luna's time with FC Dallas come to a close. One of the nicest kids you'll ever meet, Ruben was on the right track through 2011 leading the MLS reserve league in scoring, but an injury in pre-season this year set him back and his confidence was shot. He asked for a loan numerous times and then, when he was loaned, couldn't even break into the bench for an NASL side, which obviously isn't a good sign. In my opinion, Luna could have been brought back for a pre-season look next year, but if you're trying to send a message, this is the way to do it.
Chances The thought that neither player was given a chance is simply not true. Leyva was given a run in the first team and showed he wasn't ready to play more than 45-60 minutes(Fitness!). At this stage of his development, that's simply unacceptable and probably wrote his fate a long time ago. For Ruben, Dallas was in an injury crisis at forward with Blas Perez out through the middle of the season and Scott Sealy earned the starting spot. That should really tell you all you need to know. Hopefully these moves are a wakeup call to both of them.
Going to college Except for the best of the best of the best, there's just no substitute for going to college in our current soccer development system. As Schellas said, there's no substitute for the life lessons and personal maturation you get from college that never comes when you sign a homegrown deal straight out of high school and remain in your little Dallas cocoon. Why do you think Moises Hernandez hasn't been released? He was willing to go down to his Guatemala and learn some life lessons. Will he come back next year ready to play? Who knows, but the staff has a lot of respect for Moises because he made the move.
Why are others still here? A couple people asked me on Twitter why Leyva and Luna were cut while Hernandez and Ulloa, players who have contributed less to the first team, are still here. I pretty much spelled it out for Hernandez above. For Victor, I think it's his attitude and work ethic that keeps him around, at least for a look in pre-season next year. Like I said earlier, with technology improving every day, FCD can to a point track the fitness levels of their players and I'd imagine Ulloa's is pretty high. He will need to show a step forward soon though.