I took a glance at the roster today, and I noticed we’ve currently got a full roster of 28 players under contract after some brisk business between MLS Cup and the end of an
no good horrible what in the hell eventful 2016. Now this figure does include Fabian Castillo, who looks like he’s on the outs in Turkey (but may be on his way to Mexico). It also includes Timo Pitter (who may be sizing up a move to Germany), Maxi Urrutí ( Ecuador??? ), and Moises Hernandez (who knows?). It also doesn’t take into account the fact that there’s apparently going to be two additional roster spots explicitly for Homegrown Players (!!!!), so it seems reasonable that FC Dallas will still be able to add a few vets and SuperDraft picks to the roster in the weeks ahead.
Currently, there are seven HGPs that fit into the ‘off budget’ roster slots which means that if the new rule is enacted in short order, it should allow the club to sign a couple of draft picks where their hands might have otherwise been tied. It also means that with the three HGPs on the roster who have ‘graduated’ to the senior roster spots (Hernandez, Kellyn Acosta, and Victor Ulloa) the total number of academy alums has reached 10. That would have meant that the signing of either Weston McKennie or Hector Montalvo would have given the club a chance to field a pioneering all Homegrown XI at some point during the season.
In McKennie’s case, it seemed clear when he was absent at the USDA championships last summer that he was mainly waiting to turn 18 so he could sign with Schalke despite the club’s best efforts. He’s been injured recently after a fine start with Schalke’s U19s, but provided a quick return to health, should feature prominently in the USYNT U20’s efforts to qualify and to participate in the 2017 U20 World Cup in South Korea.
Along with McKennie and Coy Craft, Montalvo could also be in the running for a trip to South Korea having been called in to the US U19 team and having signed his first pro deal with Liga MX Clausura champs, Tigres. Hector’s move to Tigres appears to be the product of a lot of moving parts that shouldn’t reflect a lack of desire to sign in Dallas.
The numbers crunch at central defender, the lack of a reliable outlet for reserve minutes (Energy loan potential aside), and available slots on the roster would have made it difficult to fit him in to the plans for 2017 despite his talent and value to the organization. Factor that in with the fact an MX club likely could have offered more money initially (again roster regulations) and that he has extra value as a ‘Mexican’ player (due to a special clause in the most recently adopted roster rules for Liga MX), and the move to Monterrey makes a lot more sense.
Montalvo will miss out on the chance to play in the pros with his U18 champion teammates, Reggie Cannon and Paxton Pomykal.
Pomykal signed his pro deal late last fall, and by the looks of things, may still not need to put any of that money towards razors. Having just turned 17, and with veterans Morales and (hopefully) Diaz in front of him, there should be little pressure to rush him into regular minutes as the club’s first homegrown ‘10’. That said, he’s already developed into an impressive playmaker and contributed a pair of hockey assists in leading the U18s to a come from behind victory in last year’s Academy championship (highlights here).
Pomykal will be in eligible for the U20’s 2019 cycle, as will the club’s two youngest signings in history, Jesus Ferreira and Bryan Reynolds.
Ferriera has averaged around a goal-a-game at the academy level and was arguably the most exciting prospect in the entire academy before he signed. His game at this point doesn’t really mimic that of his famous father David, but that’s not a bad thing. He’s nominally a wing who provides a comprehensive package of attacking tools that makes him a lethal scorer and provider. Here he unleashing a hat trick on RSL’s U16’s last year prior to a dominating performance in the U16 championship game. Like Pomykal, he’s still eligible to play for the academy this year, so you’ll see David there (catch a game, seriously), but also don’t be surprised if he makes a game day roster.
Ferreira was the youngest signing in club history for about a week before that distinction was wrestled away by Reynolds, who played up a level with the U16s at age 14 toward the end of last year. Despite his age, he stands a decent chance of playing with the U17 YNT (where he’s already getting minutes and scoring) and may even make a game day roster despite ongoing academy eligibility.
Reynolds is already 6’2 and looks like he could grow into a target striker. That said, he’s mainly a wing attacker at the moment, and his ability to attack one-on-one is scary good. He looks to have a similarly high ceiling as Ferreira which explains why the club was anxious to get the two of them under contract so soon. Both are already being heavily scouted by foreign teams. Skip to an hour and 58 minutes in here to see Reynolds assist another famous player’s kid (Timothy Weah) in the U17s 3-0 win over Brazil.
Last but not least, we arrive where we started with the first HGP signing of 2016, Aaron Guillen. He saw limited playing time in MLS, the US Open Cup, and CCL in his rookie season last year and proved to be a pretty competent fill-in for either of the best center back tandem in MLS. He also showed some flexibility as an option at left back and may get more opportunities this season depending on how January camp goes for Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman.
FC Dallas has already yielded good returns from its academy program. If 2016 is any indication, the best is yet to come.