Nothing says sizzle like 9 earthquakes in the same day, but buzz around Frisco has been muted this offseason. That said, FC Dallas already has two Designated Players, a passel of young talent, and a hot Papi who was the biggest acquisition from last year's silly season.
How much will FC Dallas really need to add to improve on an extremely successful season last year in the Western Conference?
Before I start digging into the meat on this bone, we need to acknowledge that soccer's toehold in this market has become considerably more sturdy in the last year. FC Dallas drew almost 17,000 fans per game in 2014, breaking another club attendance record. The Morning News has expanded their coverage of the team and recently added the club to the coverage on the mobile Sports Day app. Finally, Steve Davis and Marc Stein's weekly soccer show on ESPN radio got some much needed company on the radio at the enchilada end of the AM dial in the form of the Kickaround on the Ticket.
Former Dallas Burn GM (and current Dallas Cup director) Andy Swift and media handy man/ex radio jock/cornerstone of some international conspiracy, Peter Welpton finally managed to horn their way into the rotation after an (unsurprisingly) successful stint on the Ticket during the World Cup this past summer. Some of Pete's (or Mr. Welpton's...whatever you prefer, Pete) most recent opining cites an interesting question for the fans and season ticket holders of FC Dallas.
This question buried towards the end of a relatively innocuous customer survey provided us with a pretty significant talking point going into 2015. MLS signed new TV deals in May that finally capitalizes on the sport's growth in popularity. Despite the added cash flow, this question asks how should we spend the money, and even goes so far as to suggest that the club already knows the best method to spend.
Welpton suggests that this question presumes an obvious correct answer based on the wording of the question. This became even more topical when the constituents of
the largest outdoor thunder mug BBVA Compass Stadium paid a $7.5 million transfer fee plus a (unknown) large salary for what will amount to about a half season of Erick Torres in 2015.
Did FC Dallas make a bid? Were the Hunts quickly priced out or did they consider Torres overvalued given the bang for the buck they've received from Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo in the last two years?
What if the investment in Oscar Pareja has the club thinking they can win with a roster consisting mainly of Metroplex natives?
Since, I could not Google a reliable list of DFW MLSers, I compiled my own. If we managed to keep an exclusively DFW roster of MLS players, here's what it could look like:
- Kellyn Acosta- Plano
- Andre Akpan- Grand Prairie
- Corben Bone- Plano
- Kenny Cooper- Dallas
- Clint Dempsey- Nacogdoches
- Conor Doyle- McKinney
- Matt Dunn- Dallas
- Danny Garcia- Dallas
- Omar Gonzalez- Dallas
- Moises Hernandez- Dallas
- Jared Jeffrey- Dallas
- Hunter Jumper- Dallas
- Chris Klute- Grand Prairie
- Mikey Lopez- Dallas
- Drew Moor- Dallas
- Lee Nguyen- Dallas
- Dillon Powers- Plano
- Shea Salinas- Grapevine
- Victor Ulloa- Wylie
- Grant Van De Casteele- Plano
It's not a bad looking list. Granted many on this list would not be as cap-friendly at this stage in their career, but about half of these players would still be on their first Pro contract. This list omits recent HGP signings (Coy Craft, Alejandro Zendejas, and Jesse Gonzalez). It also omits Emerson Hyndman and Richard Sanchez who are now on pro contracts abroad and also neglects a few players in the territory (Bright Dike from Edmond, OK and Zach Loyd from Verdigris, OK). who could very easily have ended up at HPGs had they come a long a little bit later. Just for fun, I'm going to add Jesse Gonzalez and Richard Sanchez to the list so we can make a Game Day Roster:
Jesse Gonzalez GK
Van De Casteele D
Alright, that's not a bad looking 11. The bench is pretty thin, and we're really green at keeper, but that's a 20 man roster of locals who played for the academy or as a prep here. I think part of the calculation with getting Papi back is getting the most out of the academy and the local talent pool.
So far, Pareja's track record with young players is impeccable when you consider his two seasons with Rapids and his one season here. Ulloa's breakout last season is just the latest in gold stars on Pareja's chart when it comes to managing young pros. Along with the young locals, Papi's extracted fair value from our South American talent pipeline. Let's go ahead and add them to the mix and see what the 18 looks like.
Richard Sanchez GK
Mauro Diaz M
Van De Casteele D
I cheated and 're-signed' Raul. The XI and the bench is now stronger, although the defense is still thin. The good news is that defense has been a position where an MLS team could get quality in the draft- depth here would be easy to build. Additionally, with this very hypothetical form of the Hoops, you still have additional foreign slots to acquire another Top 20 player or use as trade bait for, say, allocation money to pay down cap on some of the more senior Metroplexers.
My observations on Papi so far is that he seems like a pretty ideal boss. He is a player's coach who seems to avoid negative management tactics like the plague; middle managers could learn a thing or a thousand from this guy. His excellent results seem to ratify his methods despite a rash of injuries on his teams in all 3 years as an MLS manager. The only slightly negative thing I have heard about Pareja is he's had some conflicts with local coaches that I would characterize as territorial.
Papi also seems like a pretty loyal guy; I don't see him as someone who needs to go prove himself in Europe or South America. I could easily see him being a longtime coach for FC Dallas, and I think the Hunts are banking on this. So will Papi plus DFW plus underrated South American talent equal perennial power or do the Hunts need to go down to the credit union so we can get a loan and buy Messi. Share your thoughts and vote below.