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What are the top FC Dallas storylines of the offseason?

Players moving out will be a big item to watch.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at FC Dallas Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Just as it has been with each offseason, there are plenty of things to look out for with FC Dallas. Between the drafts, player movement, and everything in between, there is a lot to keep an eye on in the coming months.

Here are the top things I’ll be watching out for as we move along into the winter months and the new year.

Player movement

We’ve already been discussing which players could potentially stay and go here. We know that players have been back in training these last few days, and will continue so until right before Thanksgiving (at least that was the original plan that I was given from the club’s front office).

The turnover this offseason could potentially be higher than what we’ve seen in recent years. Oscar Pareja commented at the end of the season that this ‘cycle’ was done. Most of us in the media took that phrase to mean that this current group of players that we’ve seen over the last four years is probably going to get a heavier rotation out. Which makes sense given how close the team had gotten to an MLS Cup over the last two or three years.

Adding more youth?

Last year after the season ended we saw Fernando Clavijo add in three Homegrown players with the signings of Reggie Cannon, Jesus Ferreira, and Bryan Reynolds. Sadly enough we didn’t see those three for more than brief spells throughout the 2017 season (we won’t dwell on that thought here right now).

So does the team add more Homegrown players this offseason? Given Dan Hunt’s recent comments on being committed to youth development, it wouldn’t be shocking. In the coming weeks, we’ll dive deep into the academy system to see who makes sense as the next HGP signing for FC Dallas.

More progress in the south stand

At the end of the season, we finally saw some color in the south end of Toyota Stadium with “FC Dallas” being spelled out in the new blue seats.

This is huge as those seats, along with others will finally be available this coming year as the construction on the Hall of Fame will finally be wrapping up in 2018. It seems like it has been ages since we’ve had the entire Toyota Stadium available to us here and having a shiny end at the south of the stadium will be a nice addition to see.

Let’s just hope FC Dallas can find a way to get the stadium full again in 2018.

Feeling drafty

Last year’s offseason felt like it went by in the blink of an eye because of how quick it bounded from one draft to the next. Given the extra weeks we’re sitting around not playing games, we may not think the offseason is as short as it actually is but believe me, December will be here before we know it.

Once again this year we have an Expansion Draft, Re-Entry Draft, Free Agency, Waiver Drafts, SuperDraft and whatever else comes up that we don’t know about. Needless to say, there will be a lot of movement in the coming weeks, so buckle up.

So what about the USL?

I’m saving this one for last as it has been a topic on our minds for the better part of five years now I believe. FC Dallas has always believed to be a club that would dip their toes all in the USL pool but after years of not fully committing to having a second division team, you have to wonder if it will ever actually happen.

Right now MLS teams are pulling their USL sides left and right and going back to the old affiliation deals. That or they are moving their teams to a different market (like Seattle is doing right now). My gut tells me we’ll get another year of some sort of partnership with a team in the USL. Will it be OKC? Tulsa? Someone else entirely? That all remains to be seen.

I know it has been a disappointing run for those partnerships as we’re not seeing players that aren’t getting first team minutes playing time elsewhere. Clavijo has always told me it was a numbers game for training and everything else in between. You can’t commit too many players outside the team on loans and leave your senior squad to not have enough players in training each week. So yeah, it's a tough spot to be in.

Does FCD wait and go the USL 3 route in 2019? That is a move that I’m keeping an eye on as they could simply put a team in Fort Worth (a market that would do well in that division), thus keeping some players closer to home than ever before.