It's August 15th which means the MLS international transfer window is closed(unless your team name is LA Galaxy). The Derrick Johnson situation apparently never worked out whether it was price or that the player wasn't up to par, however Dallas did make two big additions with Maicon Santos and Daniel Cruz coming in while they jettisoned Eric Avila, Milton Rodriguez and Peri Marosevic.
Let's look at where things stand as we head into an enormous 3 week span that could have FCD in contention for four trophies or leave them with just MLS Cup to look at. We will do the defense first then the offense.
Starter: Kevin Hartman - Backup: Chris Seitz
This is obviously the most set position on the team. Hartman will be the starter for this team through at least next season. El Gato is a guy who is not going to let himself get out of shape and this is a guy whose name is written in ink on the starting sheet. Seitz remains a capable, if a little expensive, backup while Richard Sanchez waits in the wings. The writing is on the wall for Josh Lambo who will likely be the next to go if Dallas needs to open up another roster spot.
What is probably the biggest strength of the team is also the thinnest area of the team. The back four of Zach Loyd, George John, Ugo Ihemelu and Jair Benitez has proved to be one of the best back four combinations in the league and one that can get a team to MLS Cup. The problem is, Dallas is now playing at least 45 competitive games this season and these guys are being stretched about as far as they can go. You have to wonder if their poor performances of the last two weeks have been due to fatigue. Schellas has hinted at making a trade within the league and you've got to think he will look to add to the depth of the back line before the season ends.
Left Back Starter: Jair Benitez - Backup: Moises Hernandez
Benitez has been extremely consistent for Dallas at the left back position and his spot is pretty much unchallenged. He will make a few mental errors every now and then, but his speed and tenacity generally cover those faults. Moises Hernandez will be knocking on the door to replace him by the end of next season, but for now it's all Jair.
Center Back Starters: Ugo Ihemelu and George John - Backups: Bobby Warshaw, Jackson, Andrew Jacobson
Center back is a spot of worry for FC Dallas, in my opinion, as there is really only one true backup in Bobby Warshaw and even then his best spot is probably defensive midfield. Jackson, Jacobson and even Daniel Hernandez are guys who can fill in when needed, but there's really no proven MLS backup at this position. With John out on red card suspension for Saturday's game vs Seattle, it will likely be rookie Bobby Warshaw starting his first game in awhile.
Right Back Starter: Zach Loyd - Backup: Jackson, Andrew Wiedeman
This is certainly the position along the back four that has the best depth as FCD has two players in Jackson and Widedman that I'd be comfortable throwing in there. Loyd has been fantastic this year, earning callups to two national team camps this year and he is the slam dunk starter.
The starting back four is set up for the next two or three years. These guys, when healthy and fit, are absolutely fantastic together and gel perfectly with Kevin Hartman in goal. Dallas needs to find some quality depth to back these guys up and start some of the non-league games. The 2012 draft will almost no-doubt be focused on getting another center back in here.