FC Dallas is flush with Homegrown talent from their deep academy system. The club signed several players over the offseason and while most are still teenagers, it is always fun to speculate which one could see the most minutes for the club this season.
Out staff has their thoughts as to who they think may surprise us and be a breakout player for the team this season.
Nathan Hill - A defender.
Reggie Cannon and Aaron Guillen seem to be the two potential breakout players. Sure, offensive players will get some minutes throughout the season, but breaking through on the offensive side is a bit more challenging. With Moises Hernandez and Jose Salviaterra departing, it creates more opportunity for defenders to get minutes and stake their claim.
Scott Hiney – Reggie Cannon
It’s really hard for me for to go against who I would like to do well this year, Paxton Pomykal, but with our first round pick occupying his position, it’s highly likely he won’t receive many minutes this year. So, with that, I’ll take Reggie Cannon.
I watched him in each of the U-18s’ matches during their run to the title and he plays like someone who’s already spent time in the league. He has that same consistency and steadiness we grew to love in Zach Loyd and really excels in tracking down an attacking player. He seems like a perfect fit in the current system, so I really look forward to him getting minutes and impressing as the season enters the summer months.
Jason Poon - Aaron Guillen
I wanted and nearly selected Coy Craft for this because of the amount of years he’s been a professional (3). But Craft is still young (19) and has almost half a decade before hitting the prime as a forward. Aaron Guillen though, is most the one player that’s poised for a breakout this year.
Guillen didn’t get many minutes (106) last year, nor did he go out on loan to OKC. Oscar Pareja, opted to keep him close by and to develop and use him during training to help give the first team an appropriate defender during practices. Factor in that he’s currently third or fourth in the CB depth chart, there’s ample opportunity for Guillen to get minutes this season and show Oscar Pareja what he can do in his natural position.
I expect 500-800 minutes from Guillen this year in all comps.
Jared Tilley - Coy Craft
I feel like this might be a breakout year for Coy Craft. He will have an opportunity to see minutes in different competitions due to a lack of options behind Michael Barrios. Watching Coy’s growth, even though it has been slow, has been fun to see. Even last year, he seemed to be more comfortable on the ball and didn’t let the speed of the game overwhelm him. I do feel like the biggest challenge Coy will have this year is the lack of time he will be with the team. If he stays with the baby Nats through their camps and qualifying, it might limit is ability to have an impact with the FC Dallas, this year. If he is able to overcome that, he should be a great, young, bench player.
Edin Halilovic - Coy Craft
There’s a number of new HGPs in the squad this year on top of the ones that were already there so there’s no shortage of options to choose from here, which not many clubs in this league can say. That’s just one of the things that separates FCD and its business model from the rest of MLS currently and it has to be a major positive in anyone’s eyes that follows the club.
With that said, I’m going with Craft to make the biggest leap out of them all this year. Gonzalez, Ulloa, and Acosta are already established first team players so I won’t consider them here while Reynolds and Ferreira, two big talents, are 15 and 16 respectively which is far too young to make a notable impact in any professional league, MLS included. The same goes for Pomykal even if his chances of getting playing time are slightly bigger than the pair mentioned above due to Diaz’s injury and Morales’ tender age of 37 which .
That leaves us with Guillen and Craft as the two best positioned unproven HGPs who could break through this year that haven’t already as both have at least a season of MLS experience under their belt now. Guillen is currently the first choice back-up CB for Zimmerman and Hedges unless we count Figueroa who may feature more centrally this year with the arrival of Chala at left-back. There’s also Walker Hume who actually paired up with Guillen in college soccer a few years back and there may still be a replacement for Zach Loyd on the way before the window closes. If Hume and another centerback sign, then it’s difficult to see Guillen getting much more playing time than he did last year and even harder to see him have a breakthrough year.
Craft, on the other hand, has been contracted to the first team for three years now and had some impressive cameos last year when called upon which may suggest that he’s now ready to take his chance at FCD. With the departures of Castillo, Lizarazo, and Rosales, as well as potentially Pitter, during the off-season, there isn’t a whole lot of depth or competition at the moment on the wings and Craft may find himself more often in the fold than he did previously and get more opportunities on the field than any of the other unproven HGPs will.
If that happens, I expect him to seize the moment and grow as a player this year with the experience he’ll gain from it. Where he goes from there depends solely on him, but all things considered and looking at the roster at the moment, he’s in the best spot out of all the young HGPs to get a chance to play and make that breakthrough in the first team.