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Building For 2013: Midfielders

The third part in a series about building the FC Dallas roster for the 2013 season.

Layne Murdoch

Round three. Are you ready?

This one may take a little while to digest, so it may be good that this one is coming on Thanksgiving week.

To recap here are the parts on the Goalkeepers and the Defenders.

Just to reiterate once more, this series is about projections and potential salary numbers for the team next year. Nothing is set in stone obviously but it is all to give you a little insight as to where things could be headed with FC Dallas.

Background information

For starters once again, something I would like to point out with is that the MLS salary cap this year was a little over $2.8 million and given how it should climb a little in the next year, I'm going to estimate that it goes somewhere between $2.9 million and $3.1 million in 2013.

MLS teams as most of you know can buy down a players salary with allocation, a number that seems made up on a case by case basis in some ways. But in all reality it is real and it does have a lot of meaning. FC Dallas will be getting some extra allocation this winter due to the fact that they failed to reach the post season. This is also known as the "you suck money" from the league.

In 2012, if you include the salary of Julian de Guzman, FC Dallas spend $4.8 million on their roster. This was all based on total compensation per the MLS Players Union. Those numbers are a tad rough and since Toronto was said to be paying de Guzman's salary. FCD paid about $3.5 million in 2011.

Typically each year returning players see an increase in their salary unless it has been agreed with the club that they make less, such in the case of Daniel Hernandez when he re-signed before 2012 to be a player-coach. His player salary dipped considerably from 2011 to 2012 because of that. Most returning players however will see a slight bump.

The Players

This is where things get fun. Right now FC Dallas has ten midfielders on the roster, the number would have been 12 had the club not waived Carlos Rodriguez earlier in the week and had Daniel Hernandez not retired. Those two moves are significant here.

Still, there are a lot of questions out there to be answered.

1. What to do about de Guzman? This one is the biggest question for the club this offseason now that Hernandez has officially retired from the game. Can Dallas afford his hefty contract? Will he take a pay cut? And when we say pay cut, we're talking a major pay cut. Also, does he stay on as a Designated Player? A lot to consider especially given the fact that the club has two other DPs on the book, so that naturally means a third will cost them some extra coin.

2. Does the club make a sale on someone like Jackson? I've been hearing rumors and rumblings for a few weeks that Jackson Goncalves could be a transfer target for some Mexican and Central American teams this winter. Personally, if the club can get a good enough offer (we're talking at least $1 million), they take it. That opens the door for extra allocation money for the team to use next year.

3. Understanding Castillo's roster status. This one always seems to bug me a bit. Fabian Castillo is a DP but he certainly isn't paid like one ($60k this season on the books). I know his transfer fee was the reason but how long does that stay in effect? If it were only for two years that would be absolutely HUGE for the club. The league originally stated that he would only be a DP for one year due to his transfer fee but then they changed that rule out of the blue and kept him on as a DP. We know he won't be going anywhere anytime soon but if that DP tag can come off it would mean big, big things for the team.

4. Loans for any of the Home Growns? Right now there are only two HGPs in the midfield, Victor Ulloa and newly signed Kellyn Acosta. Ulloa is the big question here all together in my mind. He has been with the club for two seasons now and we've only seen him sparingly. This has to be a maker or break year for him too, so does the club give him a loan or will he stick it out here in hopes to finally break the first time lineup some?

5. Marcelin, Villar? These are two guys that I still have questions surrounding. With James Marcelin, I think he's a depth piece but not one that FCD should rely on as a starter going forward in the D-mid spot. The club does have two option years on Marcelin, so we can't rule out a possible non-return for him. For now he stays on the list but something tells me we'll see his name pop up in the Re-Entry Draft or another waiver draft.

As for Ricardo Villar, the more I think about him the more I think he'll get one more chance in 2013 to prove his worth. He's still relatively cheap in terms of a cap hit so it would be a low-risk move.

The Money

Alright, this is where things get real tricky due to the DPs involved and their hit on the cap. Good teams in this league spend pretty good money on their midfield units, so it should be no surprise that some of the more expensive midfields are with teams that are doing well (LA, Houston, Seattle, etc.).

Most teams in the league are spending right around $1.5 million on their midfield groups. Naturally there are some exceptions like in LA with the Galaxy spending over $4 million due to David Beckham's contract. Also, there is allocation paying some players down towards the cap so a lot of this is a rough estimate.

Time now to break down the FCD midfield group in a player-by-player mode.

(Note: I've included some potential raises for some players below, it's not exact so don't get attached to those numbers!)

David Ferreira - $350k (that is the cap hit given his DP status, his total numbers this year were $705k)

Fabian Castillo - $75k (a slight bump from his $60k this year, I still raise the flag on his DP tag)

Bobby Warshaw - $60k (slight bump from his $57k)

Andrew Jacobson - $110k (previous number was $100k)

Brek Shea - $350k (that is the salary cap hit, but allocation likely pays down his numbers a good bit, his totals this year were $354k)

Victor Ulloa - $40k (HGP do not count towards the salary cap)

Jackson - $150k (up from his previous $141k)

Ricardo Villar - $85k (up from his previous $80k)

Kellyn Acosta - $35k (HGP do not count towards the salary cap)

James Marcelin - $48k (guessing he'll get a pump as well, previous total was $48k)

Total without de Guzman - ~$1.2 million

Total with de Guzman (given the $350k cap hit) - ~$1.6 million

Thoughts on the money

1. de Guzman - Obviously this is the biggest and most pressing need for the offseason. Signing a top defensive midfielder that is ready to play on opening day. De Guzman brings a big cap hit as a DP, more than all of the league's top D-mids. Also, the club will have to pay for having a third DP on their roster, a hit that costs them a one time fee of $250k. That is if....

2. Castillo - If he does still count as a DP, he may qualify as a Young DP. I'm still waiting to hear word on that from the club. If that is the case, the club won't have to deal with buying the third DP slot for de Guzman.

3. Team total without JdG - That is a pretty reasonable sum. I left off Marcelin for a couple reasons from that list, but he wouldn't have added a bunch to that total as it is. This still leaves plenty of wiggle room for the club to get a quality D-Mid, stay within the cap and have room left over to re-sign George John and get a quality number two to Blas Perez.

Needs and wants for 2013

After the biggest need, D-mid, I'd say if Villar isn't going to be back the back-up for Ferreira will be the second biggest need. From there I'd place value on finding good depth on the wings behind Shea, Castillo and Jackson.

With a few open roster spots and some allocation coming from the league for not reaching the post season, FC Dallas should be able to snag some depth this winter.

Overall I see at least three or four more players added to this group in 2013, to push the group total up to 14 players.

Final thoughts

We are getting up there in terms of total cost. Add in the keepers and the defense and the club is already over $2 million in terms of against the cap for next year. By the way that is without de Guzman.

Honestly, I don't see an easy way to keep de Guzman on this roster at that current salary. FCD will have allocation money to pay down his contract this winter if they re-sign him but certainly not enough to keep him at a DP-level deal. The money just doesn't add up well to keep him at a high contract, nor should it.

But with that being the biggest need, there are options out there that are do-able in terms of cap space. A trade within the league for someone like Jeff Larentowicz from Colorado or even someone as polarizing as Kyle Beckerman from RSL would fit in the cap better than a DP at the D-mid spot. But that is another topic for another day....I have a list of players worth trading for (as I'm sure most of you do as well) that I may get into at some point this winter.

By my counts, we only have a few more roster spots to go with the forwards.

A lot of questions will be asked of this group from here until First Kick. I'm sure this group will be the most debated of the entire team as well due to the many questions I posed above. What do you all see shaking down this winter with the midfield group? Can FCD resign JdG? If so, at what cost? Does someone get sold? Would you keep Marcelin and Villar? And would you make a big trade if you can't keep JdG? Let's hear it.