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Building for 2017: A deeper look at the FC Dallas defense

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The defense needs a bit of work for 2017.

MLS: Preseason-FC Dallas vs D.C. United Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

After yesterday’s priority discussion on here between our staff, a couple folks talked about how important it is to beef up the defense depth. It is a perfect time to discuss the FC Dallas defense because of that discussion as we continue our Building for 2017 series.

Background information

For starters, something I would like to point out with is that the MLS salary cap this year was right at $3.66 million. So for our purposes in this series, we will use a baseline cap of $3.75 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 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.

Six defenders and a lot of questions

Following the clubs’ moves last week where they opted not to re-sign guys like Aubrey David (that darn loan probably had a huge buy-out clause) and Norberto Paparatto, to go along with the expiring contracts of Zach Loyd and Atiba Harris, the team is left with six defenders on the roster.

  1. About that depth. Whew, it is thin. If we are being a bit honest with ourselves, it was thin towards the end of the season too. Not having a healthy Loyd for half of the season definitely hurt too. As of now, there is a starting group and then a couple Homegrown players behind them. If anything we know we need about four more defenders to feel good about things for next year, given all the games the club will be involved in again.
  2. Let’s talk Moises Hernandez. This offseason will be pretty telling as to whether or not we’ll see him back in a Dallas uniform in 2017. Due to his new contract that he signed a couple years ago, his HGP status no longer saves him from the salary cap. So in a way, he is not a cheap option to keep floating out there. It is kind of crazy that we’re still asking questions of Mo for the second straight offseason.
  3. Add through the drafts or through transfers? I’ve seen a few defenders come up through the league’s recent wave of roster moves that intrigue me. (We’ll go more in detail on them later on once MLS Cup is over and we have the full list.) While I like the idea of getting a guy or two in here that know the league and the fun that is involved in playing here, I do see the value of getting a pair of defenders from Central or South America too for those CCL games.
  4. Add Loyd or Harris back? We know we need a healthy Loyd for that to work. As much as I would love to see him return in 2017, it can’t be with health questions. Harris on the other hand is solid depth in the back and at times a serviceable starter at fullback. He is also a good locker room guy to have around too, which went a long way in this team’s chemistry in 2016.

The money

Here is what our guys made against the cap in 2015:

Maynor Figueroa - $155,000

Aaron Guillen - $51,500*

Matt Hedges - $152,000

Moises Hernandez - $100,000

Ryan Hollingshead - $122,500

Walker Zimmerman - $174,000

* Homegrown player, salary does not count towards the cap

Total towards the cap: $703,500

Total with the goalkeepers: $839,500

Money moving forward

We can expect raises all around for those that are staying on board for another year. It is still criminal seeing what Matt Hedges makes each season. You have to hope he gets a sizable bump in pay after winning the Defender of the Year award.

My gut tells me we’ll see Harris return in 2017 at a decent price (he made $143k in 2016). They will add through either the Re-Entry Draft later this month or through the transfer window in January.

Needs and wants for 2017

Like we’ve been discussing here lately, depth is huge. We need for sure at least one more capable starting CB to back up Hedges and Zimmerman. After that we have to have to find a good starting right back. I’m alright with keeping Figueroa on the left as he proved to be pretty good for the most part this season there.

Outside of that, again, depth. Maybe it is through a HGP like Reggie Cannon. Or maybe it is not. Either way, the team needs guys that can step in and play 15-18 games next season behind the starters in those USOC and CCL games.

Final thoughts and figures

The more I look at it the more I want to see the club really go after a top-level fullback this offseason. We’re talking maybe even using some TAM to get one. I know that is a risk in this league but when you have the right options at fullback, a lot can change (just see what is going on with the teams that reached MLS Cup, they both have pretty solid options at fullback).

At the end of the day, I want this defensive group to be beefed up enough to continue improving into 2017. With Mauro Diaz out of the picture for a little while next year, the defense may have to carry this team some.

What do you make of how FCD is spending on the defense? Would you like to see more money allocated in this area?