It has been a little while since I've written anything on this blog (forgive me for that). I've been thinking long and hard about FC Dallas' exit in the playoffs against the New York Red Bulls and what it means for this offseason. Every club in Major League Soccer has plenty of questions going into the offseason, but it seems like Dallas could have a few more than some clubs do.
Last year it seemed like the winter was short. Dallas lost in MLS Cup and immediately had to put together their expansion draft list. After that it was a quick December that went straight into 2011 with the MLS Combine and SuperDraft. Before we knew it the club was playing the Houston Dynamo in Corpus Christi and then going off to Disney World.
From the potential moves that could make FCD some serious coin - to the questions about depth - to everything else in-between - this club has plenty to look at as we head into the long winter months.
(Read on for more)
Here are some items that Dallas fans should be considering this winter.
Expansion Draft. Until the league gets to 20 clubs, we'll be dealing with these things. Daniel and I have already mentioned the draft on here but there is always some element of surprise with this draft. I mentioned in my expansion draft list that I didn't view Dallas as a club that would get picked apart by Jesse Marsch and the Montreal Impact. Still, crazy things can happen in these drafts. Dallas could expose someone like they did last year with Dax McCarty and Montreal will take them. You just never know.
Re-Entry Draft. We had our first league-wide Re-Entry Draft last year. It was a complicated thing that really didn't shift a lot of people around until the second stage of it. I'm not entirely sure of the contract situations with some of the FCD players but there could easily be a chance that we'll see one or two of them involved in this process. Last year if you recall, it was Jeff Cunningham and Dario Sala that were put into this process.
The never ending search for a forward. Milton Rodriguez wasn't the answer. Neither was Maicon Santos when you really boil things down. Jackson Goncalves and Marvin Chavez are really not true strikers, and neither really is Fabian Castillo in this system. Ruben Luna looked poised to step into the role but never really got off the bench to do so. Fellow Home Grown Player Jonathan Top is likely a couple years away from even having a sniff at the first team.
So, now we are heading into another winter - with yet another big question surrounding the forward position with Dallas. With every club, you always want a striker as your leading scorer each year. For Dallas, that wasn't the case this year.
Now you have to wonder if Dallas will actually go out and land that big striker in the transfer window, the Re-Entry Draft, via trade or even get a quality striker in the SuperDraft.
Hello England. When defender George John nearly went to Blackburn this summer you knew Dallas would have to make a move to make up for it. They did in the form of Jeremy Hall. Well, that move wasn't so great in many folks eyes and we all figure John will likely head to England (or somewhere over in Europe) this winter.
With that potential departure, Dallas has to go out and get someone to fill the void left by John. As good of a partnership as Ugo Ihemelu and John were over the last two years, finding a replacement will have to become a top priority.
Let's also not forget about Brek Shea and his possible jump to Europe. Both Daniel and I are on the same page with this one, it won't happen this winter. The only way it does happen is if Dallas is offered something ridiculous, as in the form of a $10 million-plus transfer fee. More than likely - if it does happen in 2012 - it will be after the Summer Olympics.
SuperDraft. I've already mentioned the SuperDraft once but it is worth going into a little more detail here. Dallas will have the 10th overall pick (unless they trade up or down of course). That is a pretty good spot to be in. I won't go too into the draft boards right now because there is still so much college soccer left to be played, but I will say this, Dallas should land a quality player in this draft.
Depending where the club is at by this date in the offseason calendar, Dallas should be going after a striker or some defensive cover. A lot will come down to who makes the Generation adidas list this year, and who comes out. I believe if Dallas can snag another Generation adidas player in this draft, they will. Remember those players don't count against the salary cap. An important thing for a club that could be trying to land a big time transfer in that same period.
Questions in the middle. Boy this could be the biggest of them all. David Ferreira should be back for 2012 after his injury, but you still wonder what percentage he'll actually be in to start the season. After him there are two key players in the midfield that could be having knee surgeries this winter. Andrew Jacobson had knee surgery recently and is rehabbing in California while captain Daniel Hernandez still has lingering knee issues. More than likely Hernandez will have to have surgery this winter to clean up some things in his 36-year old legs.
My biggest wonder of this offseason surrounds Hernandez. He's up there in age and those knee issues aren't going away anytime soon. We know he's a beast and a true warrior in the game. But at some point you have to wonder how much longer he will be able to do this. Figuring out how much is left in his tank will go a long way in determining how well Dallas will and won't do in 2012.
Progression of young players. We all had hoped that 2011 would be a big year for the young guys on the roster. With the additional games in the USOC and the Champions League, we thought we'd see more of the likes of Luna, Victor Ulloa, Bryan Levya, Andrew Weideman and Moises Hernandez. Well, 2012 should be a year of more progression for those guys.
Luna finally found the back of the net in a league game in San Jose - which had to be huge for his confidence. You do still wonder what his role with the club will be going forward though. Is he the top pick to play up top or will he continue to come off the bench here and there?
Moises Hernandez was a guy that we all thought would push for playing time in 2011. With likely departures in the back this winter, it will be his time to step up and show that he is ready to play.
Ulloa and Weideman showed a lot of progression in 2011 and will hopefully see that momentum going forward into 2012.