Time to continue on in our look at the roster building for FC Dallas as we move closer towards 2016 with a look at the club's defenders.
For starters, something I would like to point out with is that the MLS salary cap this year was right at $3.3 million. So for our purposes in this series, we will use a baseline cap of $3.5 million as the cap is expected to slowly reach $4.2 million by 2019.
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.
If you go clearly off the league's website or even the club's for that matter in terms of where players play, FCD currently has seven defenders on the roster. Three of them are converted fullbacks as it is. The club did recently let go of a couple defenders that were natural center backs.
1. Will the depth actually be built? Seven defenders is a fairly low number, but oddly enough it was where we were at this point in the offseason last year. The main concern is certainly at center back with really only two natural CBs on the roster in Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman. Zach Loyd has been converted over to CB with good reviews but some wonder if the club can finally move him back to the fullback spot with Zimmerman emerging.
2. Will Pareja continue to find a work in progress at fullback? Between the first run of Je-Vaughn Watson (who I would argue has solidified his role as a right back) to Atiba Harris and Ryan Hollingshead, Oscar Pareja has done a lot with players to get them converted to fullbacks. But will he continue to convert more players into this role for depth reasons?
3. What about Mo? That leads me to the next question, will we ever see Moises Hernandez back in a starting role with this club? I think he clearly has to want it enough to earn it back, something he wasn't able to do down the stretch. Or could Pareja have a trick up his sleeve to get more out of him at a different position?
Here is what our guys made against the cap in 2015:
Atiba Harris - $130,000
Matt Hedges - $135,000
Moises Hernandez - $61,625*
Ryan Hollingshead - $60,000
Zach Loyd - $196,666
Je-Vaughn Watson - $180,000
Walker Zimmerman - $180,100**
* Homegrown player, salary does not count towards the cap
** Generation adidas player, salary did not count towards the cap in 2015 (but it will in 2016)
Total towards the cap: $701,666
Total with the goalkeepers: $831,666
Money moving forward
Raises are expected all around. How Hedges is only making that at the level he played this year is crazy to me but I imagine some allocation was used to pay down his salary against the cap (remember, the PU figures aren't 100% accurate).
We know Zimmerman will be back on the books in the coming year as he rolls off his Generation adidas deal. Hernandez is likely to count against the cap as well as he and Kellyn Acosta and Jesse Gonzalez are set to move on from their original HGP deals.
My gut tells me right now that the club will work on adding some defensive depth in the draft, potentially looking to get a HGP if one is available. But money is there to play with in terms of signing some additional help through the Re-Entry Draft stage two later this week or from the transfer market.
Needs and wants for 2016
Like mentioned above, the depth has to get better in this area in 2016. Personally, I would love to see FCD go after a pricier center back with some of that TAM money that has been made available. I love what Hedges, Zimmerman and Loyd are able to do but I want a game changer in that position if all possible.
The same may be said for a left back. We have a hand full of players that can be put in that spot right now but none are players we know can win games in that role. Hollingshead showed promise down the stretch, Harris was always intriguing (no matter how much you hated him in that role) and Hernandez will has the talent to be successful there.
Final figures and thoughts
More money will be spent in this area as the club move towards 2016. They had a little over a million on the books in 2015 when you factor in Stephen Keel and Bakary Soumare, who are both now not with the club. The Soumare money has to be reused properly in my mind to get this club back to a Western Conference final or MLS Cup.
What do you make of how FCD is spending on the defense? Would you like to see more money allocated in this area?