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Building for 2018: A shift in the midfield on the horizon for FC Dallas?

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The middle of the park has either made or broken this team.

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason continues to roll along as we dive deeper into the roster construction for 2018. We’ve covered the defensive side of the roster and now we’ll handle the biggest group on the team, the midfielders.

Background information

For starters, I like to point out the salary cap, which this season was at $3.8 million. So for our purposes in this series, we will use a baseline cap of $4 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. FC Dallas will be getting some extra allocation money for not reaching the postseason, as well as some for earning a spot in the CCL again.

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.

Nine players and the questions to ask

  1. Do you re-sign Coy Craft? One player missing from the list below is Homegrown midfielder Coy Craft who is in talks with the club on a new deal (same goes for Maynor Figueroa). I could see this one go either way but re-signing him would likely pull him off a HGP deal and into the senior roster once and for all. I’m not entirely sold on his MLS potential anymore, though I do think he could be a solid fullback if given the chance.
  2. How do you back up Mauro Diaz? We’ve discussed this one already but do you take the chance that Paxton Pomykal will be ready to fill those shoes? Do you begin getting him ready or do you find yet another veteran to try and fill the shoes for those games that you know Diaz will miss in 2018.
  3. Is the depth on the wings really there? Right now I see guys like Tesho backing up Roland Lamah, and even in some ways young guys not mentioned here in Jesus Ferreira or Adonijah Reid backing him or Barrios up. But it feels rather weak the more you look at it. Figuring those depth areas out will be a challenge this offseason.
  4. Does the club really need another wasted central midfielder? A lot of us really liked the limited minutes we saw out of Carlos Cermeno early in the year but after July, his minutes died. Which makes me wonder if it is even really worth going outside of MLS for yet another central midfielder to be in the depth charts behind Kellyn Acosta, Victor Ulloa, and Carlos Gruezo.
  5. Speaking of Acosta...do you begin to replace him? This is one that may require more writing but the team should be looking to sort out how to replace him in the coming year. Do you stick with slotting in Jacori Hayes or Ulloa in the event he gets sold in 2018? My gut tells me that be what happens.

The money

  • Kellyn Acosta $280,000
  • Tesho Akindele $112,500
  • Michael Barrios $200,000
  • Mauro Diaz $880,890*
  • Carlos Gruezo $731,500^
  • Jacori Hayes $72,500#
  • Roland Lamah $773,500*
  • Paxton Pomykal $75,000&
  • Victor Ulloa $152,500

Total against cap: $1,545,000

Total with keepers & defenders: $2,506,500

* Player salary bought down with Targeted Allocation Money (for this purpose we’ll only count $300k against the cap; the max charge for a player can be $480,625, FCD had $1.2 million in TAM to use in 2017)

^ Young DP, only $200,000 counted against the cap

# Supplemental roster player, does not count against cap

& Homegrown Player (also Supplemental roster player), does not count against cap

The money moving forward

Naturally some will get raises, others will likely stay put a good bit. We know Barrios is due to get a nice increase in pay. It would be lovely if we could get Lamah’s price down but I don’t see that happening.

Wants and needs for 2018

Like we discussed above, the depth is a big question mark behind Diaz and on the wings. I would love to see someone brought in to challenge Lamah for a starting role. But at the same time I would also love to see someone brought in to challenge Diaz in the same capacity.

I still think this is a talented enough group that can win a lot of games in MLS. But getting them back to their 2016 form seems like a bigger challenge than anything else.

Final thoughts and figures

The money spent in this area should be about what it is, if not a tad more. Given the players not re-signed this winter, it would be higher. Just like with everything going on this offseason, this is certainly a make-or-break group for the club. If you get the spots right, we know the type of success this group can have. But if things go wrong, then we also know the end of that as well.

What do you make how how this midfield group is shaping out to be this offseason? What areas concern you the most in this group?