30 Tickets to March 11: Halfway Point

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 22: Andrew Weideman #23 of FC Dallas watches the ball go by him and Justin Morrow #15 of the San Jose Earthquakes during an MLS game at Buck Shaw Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Tony Medina/Getty Images)

As crazy as it sounds, the pre-season is about at the halfway point. That's not to say that many of the starters are halfway to fitness, but things are getting going. There's two friendlies, Wednesday and Saturday, before the team leaves for two weeks in Orlando that will serve as the true tune up to March 11 vs New York.

In this article, I will include comments on all players having seen them in multiple practices and multiple games this pre-season, and also note the changes in internationals due to 3rd Degree reporting that certain players have gained their green cards. This is a snapshot of the roster that could change significantly once the team leaves for Orlando.

Slam dunk 2012 senior roster spots

1. Kevin Hartman - Should have no problems with fitness coming into the season. Has looked good in the games I've seen and you never worry about preparation with El Gato.

2. Chris Seitz - The backup goalkeeper that needs a good 2012. In a tenuous position with British goalkeeper Richard Wright having been brought in a few weeks ago for a look

3. Jair Benitez (green card) - Having a good pre-season so far. No injury problems and has played a nice amount of minutes in preseason games. Always a little scary to watch, but an above average MLS left back

Keep reading

4. Ugo Ihemelu - Starting center back, needs to get on the field. Was held out of the cold games, but could play Wednesday against SMU. Has looked good the times I've seen in practice.

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. No problems going into 2012

6. David Ferreira (green card) - Still hasn't been able to shake the ankle injury that has kept him out since April 2011. Says there is still some pain, but getting closer to returning?

7. Daniel Hernandez - Team captain who returns after another off-season knee surgery. Could reportedly make his pre-season debut at SMU on Wednesday. I don't worry about him at all.

8. Brek Shea - Face of the franchise played his first minutes of the pre-season last weekend. No injury problems but his minutes should be monitored.

9. Andrew Jacobson - Looked great against River Plate on Saturday clogging up the passing lanes fantastically and distributing well. Should be ready to go as a key memeber of the squad in 2012.

10. Fabian Castillo(I1) - Colombian former U20 international who projects to start at right mid for the time being. I think Schellas is still trying to find his best position but his electrifying offensive talent can't be questioned.

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(I2) - Panama international forward, marquee signing of the 2012 offseason. Still working his way into fitness and I worry that it could be a month or two into the season before we see Might Mouse in full gear.

13. Carlos Rodriguez(I3) - Panamanian international outside back who could push forward into midfield. Looks to be a nice under the radar signing.

14. Hernan Pertuz(I4) - Colombian former U23 international center back, looked great in the 45 minutes I saw. Probably the starting center back opposite Ugo Ihemelu if George John doesn't return.

15. Bobby Warshaw - Becoming a vocal leader on the team, the backup defensive mid for Daniel Hernandez who seems to get better with every month that passes. One for the future...

Fightng for their job in 2012

16. Ricardo Villar(I5) - Brazilian attacking mid thrust into the limelight with David Ferreira's injury. Probably makes the squad due to the lack of anyone else for the position, but I've never been high on him.

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...Has a slight injury right now which could really hurt his chances.

Other

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 - Has been playing at center back during his time in scrimmages but can also be a right back. Probably here as insurance if George John is purchased.

20. Scott Sealy (green card) - I think Trinidad international Scott Sealy has done enough to make the roster out of pre-season. He could be the first one cut if Dallas find the backup forward they're looking for on the international market, but as of now he's on the squad.

2012 Off-budget/Developmental roster

1. Ruben Luna (I6) - Homegrown forward, scored his first MLS goal in San Jose and led reserve division in goals. Carrying a little knock right now, hopefully he is fully fit by Orlando

2. Bryan Leyva - Homegrown offensive midfielder, former Mexican youth international. Has been given serious minutes so far in pre-season.

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. Has really looked impressive in pre-season scrimmages so far including a hat trick against Memphis.

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. Matt Hedges - National Champion at UNC, first round center back selection for FC Dallas. Looking good in pre-season, some rookie mistakes but improving every day.

Trialists

Scott Gordon, Alex Lee, Kleyner Bejarano

Thoughts

A lot at the bottom of the roster is going to depend on how successful Dallas is in finding the forward and right mid targets they're looking for. Schellas told me they're looking inside the league and outside the league and if they find the target then guys like Sealy and Ibeagha could be shown the door. The best thing is knowing that Dallas has international spots available if needed with the green cards for Ferreira and Benitez. We will know a ton more about a week from now when Dallas leaves for Orlando as anyone that goes on that trip is going to have a great shot at making the opening day 30 man squad.

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