With just 11 days until players report for pre-season training camp, it's time to take a look at how the FC Dallas roster is shaping up and some food for thought as we head into pre-season. First off we need to take a look at a couple of changes.
New roster rules
First off we need to take a look at the new MLS roster rules and how they affect things. I'm taking a lot of my facts from an article Jeremiah Oshan wrote for the great Sounder at Heart blog...pretty much our gold standard around here. Rumor has it that MLS hasn't even fully released the roster rules for 2011 so bear with me as some of this might not be 100% correct and could change, but all the major points are pretty much guaranteed to be in effect for 2011.
-24 has become 30. Six roster spots have been added to the 2011 roster bringing the total count to 30 players each team is allowed to have. 20 of those spots are senior roster spots like teams would normally have and 10 of them are for players under 25 years old on developmental or homegrown contracts. All Generation Adidas and Homegrown players will not count towards the salary cap.
-Unlimited Homegrown Players. While previously there was a limit to how many players a team can sign from their youth academy, that limit has been lifted. This affects FCD more than most teams as they now have 5 homegrown players on their roster.
-Departures: FC Dallas has lost Jeff Cunningham(re-entry draft), Dax McCarty(expansion draft), Dario Sala(option not renewed), Atiba Harris(expansion draft)
-Arrivals: Incoming for the 2011 season so far are Chris Seitz(Trade) and Jonathon Top(Homegrown signing)...this doesn't include draft picks, but we will include those later...this is obviously very subject to change with the imminent signing of a European midfielder among others...
-Generation Adidas Graduates: Brek Shea, Eric Avila and Bruno Guarda have all graduated from Generation Adidas meaning they must occupy a senior roster spot and their contracts count against the salary cap. This is particularly troublesome for a player like Guarda who, making over $100k may need to re-negotiate his contract if he wants to stick with the team.
These are the guys who were either with FC Dallas or MLS last season on a team's roster and are the favorites to keep their jobs with the team and be on that final 30 man roster heading into opening day.
Goalkeepers(3): Kevin Hartman, Chris Seitz, Josh Lambo
This is obviously the most set spot on the roster. This is very unlikely to change, though Craig Hill will work as hard as possible to push Lambo
Defenders(9): Jair Benitez, Kyle Davies, Edson Edward, Jackson, Moises Hernandez, Ugo Ihemelu, George John, Zach Loyd, Heath Pearce,
A ton of names here and probably the best front to back returning defense in the league. In Benitez, Davies, Jackson, Ugo, John, Loyd and Pearce you've got seven(!) players who have proven they can play at a high level in MLS. One of these guys will likely be moved to defensive midfield if FC Dallas can't add the player they want.
Midfielders(9): Eric Alexander, Eric Avila, Marvin Chavez, David Ferreira, Bruno Guarda, Daniel Hernandez, Bryan Leyva, Brek Shea, Victor Ulloa
An interesting group with experience and youth. Looking at this, you can see why FC Dallas would want to add another veteran 2-way central midfielder.
Forwards(6): Ruben Luna, Peri Marosevic, Milton Rodriguez, Andrew Wiedeman, Jason Yeisley, Jonathon Top
This is the most glaring trouble spot on the roster. While I included Yeisley and Wiedeman in the forwards list because they're listed that way on the website, neither was practicing at forward towards the end of the season as Yeisley was at center back and Wiedeman was more of a winger. Essentially you've got Luna and Uncle Milton with Peri remaining on the roster due to his Generation Adidas, and therefore salary cap exempt status. I included Top because he's obviously going to be on the roster next season.
This, in total is 27 players which leaves room for some rookies to make the roster.
Goalkeepers(1): Craig Hill
Hill will be the fourth goalkeeper in training camp and will hopefully impress enough to at least get picked up by a USL team.
Defenders(4): Charlie Campbell, Scott Gordon, Alexis Pradie, Bobby Warshaw
It's clear where FC Dallas wanted to add to the roster in the draft and that's defense. Warshaw, the first round draft pick, is pretty much a lock to make the roster. I included Campbell, the second round pick, in defenders though he, like Warshaw, could be seen in the midfielder. Pradie and Gordon are complete unknowns until we see them in preseason.
Midfielders(3): Brayan Martinez, Paul Ogunyemi, Kekoa Osorio
These guys are pretty much unknowns, though there is a sliver of hope for all three of these guys as anyone who proves they can play with a high work rate on both the left and right sides of midfield could find their way on the roster as well as someone who can play a 2-way game going forward and dropping back well. Osorio is my dark horse to make the squad out of the supplemental guys.
Forwards(0): Schellas doesn't like young forwards it seems.
30 tickets to March 19
This is a feature we're going to be running throughout the pre-season that will be updated regularly and that's the 30 tickets to March 19th and the opening day roster...NOTE:This is how the roster currently stands and does not account for possible future signings. Because I don't want to rank a bunch of players I haven't seen play, I'm simply updating with the draft picks based on the order they were drafted in. This is all very subject to change.
Slam dunk 2011 senior roster spots
1. Kevin Hartman - Slam dunk starting goalkeeper, a GK of the year contender if he stays healthy
2. Chris Seitz - The backup goalie and protege to Kevin Hartman, starter for most USOC and CCL games
3. Jair Benitez - Starting left back for FC Dallas. Benitez was fantastic last year and very reliable.
4. Ugo Ihemelu - Starting center back. Ihemelu and John formed one of the best CB tandems in MLS in 2010
5. George John - Starting center back. Darkhorse MLS All-star candidate if he can stay healthy
6. Zach Loyd - Loyd proved to be worthy of his first round draft pick in 2010 appearing in 24 games.
7. Heath Pearce - Arguably the best right back in MLS and just 26 years old.
8. Jackson - Extremely versatile mid-season signing can play anywhere across the back 4 and D-mid.
9. David Ferreira - Duh
10. Marvin Chavez - Recently re-signed, when Chavez plays well FC Dallas is tough to beat.
11. Daniel Hernandez - Team captain and starting defensive midfielder. A no-brainer.
12. Brek Shea - With his graduation from Generation Adidas, I believe Shea must take a senior spot now.
13. Eric Avila - Ditto. 2011 will be huge for Avila as it's pretty much put up or shut up time in Frisco for him.
14. Eric Alexander - The surprise of 2011, Alexander has even earned a national team call-up
15. Milton Rodriguez - Colombian forward is penciled in to start for FC Dallas
Likely 2011 Senior roster spots
16. Bruno Guarda - Guarda will likely make the team but with his non-GA status must take a step forward.
17. Kyle Davies - Davies has shown well when healthy and could be a real contributor if he stays fit.
Work to do to keep 2011 spot
18. Jason Yeisley - Converted from forward to center back at the middle of the season. I don't think he makes it.
19. Edson Edward - Built like a linebacker, but will get bumped once the international signings come.
20. Bobby Warshaw - For now he takes this spot but will soon be pushed to developmental...will be on 2011 roster
2011 Developmental roster spots (10)
Slam dunk developmental roster players
1. Ruben Luna - FC Dallas' prize youth product, the forward should be a real contributor this year.(Homegrown)
2. Bryan Leyva - Miles ahead of the league at U18 level, still needs to grow for senior squad.(Homegrown)
3. Moises Hernandez - Could play in the U20 World Cup, FCD left back of the future.(Homegrown)
4. Victor Ulloa - Defensive mid, still very young, needs more games in reserves and Academy.(Homegrown)
5. Jonathon Top - Another FCD forward of the future. Also very young.(Homegrown)
6. Andrew Wiedeman - Seemed to take a step forward and grow in confidence towards end of 2010. (GA)
7. Josh Lambo - FCD's 3rd goalie still just 20 years old though it seems he's been with the team for awhile.(GA)
8. Peri Marosevic - Will remain with the squad due to GA status but must show something and quickly.(GA)
2011 Camp invitees working for those final 2-4 spots
Charlie Campbell, Scott Gordon, Craig Hill, Brayan Martinez, Paul Ogunyemi, Kekoa Osorio, Alexis Pradie.
As you can see it's already a pretty packed roster....right now it's likely there could be one senior roster spot and two developmental spots available for all the players above plus Yeisley and Edward to contend for. The forward position is still a glaring hole on the roster with just two players in Luna and Milton that seem to have the talent to make an impact on an MLS game.