Time to dive into part three of our Building for 2015 series. We've gone from back to front on the field with keepers and defenders earlier in the week and now we will dive into possibly one of the toughest groups to figure out, the midfield.
For starters, something I would like to point out with is that the MLS salary cap this year was right at $3.1 million. Given how the CBA discussions are on-going, knowing what the salary cap will be in 2015 is a bit of mystery. So for our purposes in this series, we will use a baseline cap of $3.7 million.
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. Unlike in years past, FC Dallas will not be getting any of the 'you suck' allocation for not reaching the playoffs. Instead they will need to rely on trades and any potential transfers (doubtful) to build up any additional allocation funds.
Typically each year returning players see an increase in their salary unless it has been agreed with the club that they make less, as in the club and player worked out a deal.
The numbers and the questions
After some recent moves, the club currently has seven midfielders on the roster (this includes Michel and Fabian Castillo).
1. Backing up Mauro - Without a doubt in my mind, getting some kind of backup for Mauro Diaz has to be a priority this winter. Sure, there is a guy like Danny Garcia or Brian Span on the roster, both of whom could fill that role in a short term situation. But as we saw in 2014, the club struggled when there wasn't a good plan in place to back Diaz up when he went down with his first injury.
2. Finding a flank player - After deciding not to re-sign Andres Escobar, FCD now has some much needed additions on the flanks. While there are players that can play on the wings like Ryan Hollingshead and Tesho Akindele, neither are the right option to be on the right side of the field. I'm not sure if using the open DP slot on this area is the right move but if it is, the club has to hit it out of the park more than they did with Escobar.
3. Re-sign Hendry Thomas? - This will certainly be an interesting week for this discussion. Thomas is currently in the Re-Entry Draft zone as that heads into Thursday's stage two. But we all know that the club can be better when Thomas is healthy. We saw good things from him during his short run on the field this season with the team.
4. Those DP slots - I'll go more into this in the forward spot with David Texeira, but both he and Diaz are set to move beyond the 'Young DP' mark next season with the way things currently stand. The big thing to see play out here this winter with the CBA is how much a senior DP will cost a team. It would be a situation where Diaz ends up staying at or around his current rate against the salary cap but does not take up a DP slot. we will see.
Here is the midfielders salary numbers based on their total compensation in 2014:
Fabian Castillo - $76,250
Mauro Diaz - $411,000*
Danny Garcia - $71,000**
Ryan Hollingshead - $48,500
Michel - $141,500
Victor Ulloa - $36,504**
* - Young DP salary counts $200k towards the cap
** - Homegrown player does not count against the cap
Total against the cap: $466,250
Total with defenders and goalkeepers: $1,257,032
Money moving forward
Bumps in salary are bound to happen, that much we know. The salary for Diaz will certainly be something to watch out for with the new CBA like I mentioned above. That could go a long way in determining if the club has an extra DP slot or just the one that is currently open. Then again, MLS could open up a fourth DP slot altogether. So many things we don't know because of those CBA discussions.
Still, because the club declined options on guys like Thomas, Adam Moffat, Peter Luccin and Escobar, the amount of money left over is pretty good to make some serious moves this winter.
Wants and needs for 2015
I touched on it above but the needs are really all over the midfield. If I had to set a priority next to them it may be finding another DM type player, a flank player and then a backup to Diaz. Then again that order could easily change any given day and be correct. There is just a lot to fill out in this roster right now which means there are loads of needs all over the midfield.
Final thoughts and figures
Given the fact that we're not even at $1.5 million against the cap right now shows exactly how much room the club has to work with this winter. This is as big of a gap on the roster as I've seen in some time going into the big part of the offseason. Throw in the fact that we still have the second half of the Re-Entry Draft this week plus any additional trades that will likely happen, I have faith that things will take shape in a positive way with this cap space.