Following last week’s article that analyzed who FC Dallas should loan to Oklahoma City next year, this week’s topic will entertain the idea of players from the Energy moving South to join Dallas in the upcoming season.
The Oklahoma City Energy FC currently possess a vast international squad that is led by former Major League Soccer and Danish goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. Furthermore, Nielsen’s assistants James Ritchie (Scotland), Mark Howard (England), and Chris Spendlove (England), add another splash of international zest to this exciting Energy squad.
In Oklahoma City’s current 28-man squad; they possess 16 Americans, one Puerto Rican, one Cameroonian, one Dutch, one Mexican, one Hungarian, one Pole, one Swede, one Brit, one German, and three Danes.
Apart from the mixed bag of internationals and exciting prospects, not every player can entertain the idea of stepping up to Major League Soccer.
As the USL grows, it is becoming more common to see players move higher up the American Soccer Pyramid. Nevertheless, recent examples have been slim. Most recent USL success stories have involved players moving from their club’s second team all the way to their senior squad; examples include the Los Angeles Galaxy’s Daniel Steres and David Romney. However, D.C. United recently took a chance on former USL midfielder Rob Vincent, who established himself as a major piece to United’s squad. With Vincent’s success, it could pave the way for more USL stars to move up the ladder in America, potentially earning a spot in the United States’ first division, Major League Soccer.
If calling up a player for the USL brings low-risk rewards, meaning USL players are cheap and reliable, why hasn’t FC Dallas delved into this idea? With their recent success with the Energy affiliation, Dallas should consider signing a few OKC players on a short loan, potentially evaluating them and integrating them into the squad. This would be a win-win for both parties as the Energy will receive a hefty amount for their player and Dallas will add considerable depth.
If FC Dallas considers buying or loaning any Oklahoma City Energy FC players next season, these are the three I believe they should contact:
1. Cody Laurendi (Goalkeeper):
28-year-old Florida native Cody Laurendi has a long list of footballing experience. Beginning his career in Belgium with recently dissolved fourth tier side R.R.F.C. Montegnee, Laurendi found himself returning to this side of hemisphere when he signed a contract the Puerto Rico Islanders. After spending two seldom years with the Islanders, the 6’3” goalkeeper found himself returning to the states with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Following an unproductive campaign in Florida, Laurendi bounced around in the USL before finding a home with the Energy in 2016. In the 28-year-old’s first season in Oklahoma City, the South Georgia University alum surprised many fans and pundits alike, impressively leading the league in shutouts on the season. Acting as a source of hope in the playoffs, Laurendi helped lead his side to an epic run that saw them defeat higher seeded RGVFC, however, their victorious run sadly ended in the following match against the Vancouver Whitecaps 2.
In addition to Laurendi’s successful 2016 campaign with the Energy, the 28-year-old Florida native found himself earn a spot in Puerto Rico Men’s National Team’s roster. Nevertheless, Laurendi thankfully declined the offer, stating that he wished to spend the rest of the playoffs in OKC.
Although Dallas has experienced goalkeepers with Chris Seitz and Jesse Gonzalez, having a third hard-working and well-rounded shot-blocker could bring another advantageous character to the locker room. Personally, I think many Energy fans, including myself, would like to see how Laurendi would perform in the United States’ top tier.
Furthermore, if FC Dallas strangely decides to entertain this idea, it would be in the club’s best interest to send recent Rookie Ryan Herman to Oklahoma City, giving him an opportunity to earn minutes under Jimmy Nielsen.
2. Michael Thomas (Midfielder):
With Mauro Diaz recently undergoing surgery, FC Dallas has found themselves down a creative attacking midfielder. Due to this loss, FC Dallas shouldn’t look to buy from afar; instead, they should look to sign Energy FC captain Michael Thomas. The 28-year-old midfielder has massive experience within the soccer world. Beginning his professional career after a successful three years at Notre Dame, Thomas found himself bouncing around Europe, playing with Swedish sides Halmstads BK and Ljungskile SK. After two years in Europe, Thomas returned to the states with Sporting KC, where the Kansas native appeared in seven matches before making the switch to Toronto. After only playing one match in Canada, Thomas joined the Energy in 2014, where he has played a total of 82 matches under Jimmy Nielsen, scoring 11 goals.
Thomas can bring skillful passing as well as leadership on the field. Much like Rob Vincent with D.C. United, Thomas will be able to slot in easily with his professional mentality, providing productive offense.
3. Michael Harris (Defender):
If you had to describe Michael Harris in one phrase, it would have to be: “Flip Throw Ins.” The University of Washington alum has brought a rare sight to sport. Although many see this act as unnecessary, it creates a whole new set-piece for a side. Due to the high velocity that the flip creates, the ball carries a further distance than a regular throw-in emits. With this skill, FC Dallas could create more set piece opportunities. With big men in box such as Zimmerman and Hedges, a throw in towards the opponent’s goal could weigh as much as a corner.
What’s your thought on signing players from the USL? Is there someone I missed? Do you disagree? Comment below so we can discuss!