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Top Five Pre-Season Roster Battles: #5 Final Center Back Spot

This is the only picture of Jack Stewart I could find.
This is the only picture of Jack Stewart I could find.

With all the internationals heading to FCD, the practice field should begin to get pretty packed as Dallas begins full preparation for the 2012 season. Four new players have been signed and over the next week or so we will be taking a look at five roster battles to track through the next 6 weeks of pre-season.

Adam Crouch posted an article on the FCD website regarding Scott Gordon and his quest to make the team which brought this little nugget from Schellas.

"He’s been great. He’s everything that we remember," said Hyndman. "The thing is, we’ve really made a real commitment to making our defense better, depth wise. Getting Hernán Pertúz, Carlos Rodríguez and then picking up Matt Hedges in the draft, that’s three more guys. We’d probably like to get one more player."

If George John finds his way back to Dallas, I think this is all moot as a center back stable of John, Ugo Ihemelu, Matt Hedges, and Hernan Pertuz with Andrew Jacobson/Zach Loyd available in an emergency is probably enough. However, if you lose John there is clearly a need for a final center back to round out the roster.

The challengers right now are Christian Ibeagha, Scott Gordon and Jack Stewart with Alex Lee possibly making a late run if he can get healthy.

You'd have to say right now that Jack Stewart is the incumbent and favorite to grab the spot. He's got the familiarity to Schellas from last season and showed fairly well in his emergency appearances. You've got the young guys in Pertuz and Hedges so a guy like Stewart with a bunch of experience seems to be the safest choice.

The cases for the rest of the guys after the jump

If you're looking for the guy with the highest ceiling, it's Scott Gordon. At 6-4, 190 with arguably the best fitness on the team, Gordon is a guy that has the tools to be a very good defender in the league, but he's very raw. From what I saw last year and this year, he's got a shot to be a decent MLS defender in a year or two, but he will still get beat on a fairly consistent basis right now. Also, his passing out of the back is a bit suspect, but in terms of physical tools and raw ability, he's a guy you want around for the future.

Christian Ibeagha is a guy that the coaching staff is going to know well as he's been around for awhile including stints last season. He can play center back or right back and has good athleticism, but I'm just not sure how good he projects to be. There's a bit of mystery with him as I don't feel he's played his best soccer since being considered one of the top defensive prospects in the country before getting injured.

It will be fun to track all these guys for the next 6 weeks as they duke it out for a spot on the roster.