Depth is always a topic of discussion surround MLS teams and FC Dallas is no stranger to that either. Last week we dove into the defensive depth and looked at where some trouble spots are with the club in the back. Today, we’ll move up the field to finish out our depth chart series with a look at the midfield and attack.
For clarity, the presumed starter will be listed in bold, while players that haven’t been signed will be in italics.
Natural: Carlos Gruezo, Victor Ulloa, Kellyn Acosta
Capable: Jacori Hayes, Dakota Barnathan, Marco Carrizales
Emergency: Carlos Cermeño
Given that Oscar Pareja prefers to do a 4-2-3-1 type look in most cases, we’ll stick with Acosta and Gruezo as the main starters in this case. I would even image we’ll see them as the main starters in a 4-4-2 look as well if Javier Morales is sitting out a game on turf or something this season.
We talk all the time about getting more depth in the middle of the park in the midfield but on the defensive side of things, FC Dallas is actually very deep in this role.
Natural: Jacori Hayes, Dakota Barnathan
Capable: Victor Ulloa, Kellyn Acosta, Marco Carrizales
Emergency: Javier Morales, Carlos Cermeno
On the other side, if you look at a pure box-to-box player for this club in a different formation, the club is a little weaker in this area. Our first round draft pick may be the only one that is truly best suited for this role. I do think we’re seeing a little of that in the preseason right now. How much he’ll be used in that role will remain to be seen but I do wonder if this is a spot that Fernando Clavijo addresses at some point this season.
Natural: Michael Barrios, Ryan Hollingshead
Capable: Roland Lamah, Tesho Akindele, Coy Craft, Mauro Diaz, Atiba Harris, Jesus Ferreira
Emergency: Kellyn Acosta, Paxton Pomykal, Wuilito Fernandes
The wings are spots that Pareja can plug a slew of different guys in, if needed. Barrios remains the main option on the right side with plenty of back up choices. We know he loves to plug in Akindele here and we’re seeing a lot of Craft and Ferreira in this area too. I am curious to see if we’ll get some random looks of Pomykal here too.
Natural: Mauro Diaz, Javier Morales, Paxton Pomykal, Wuilito Fernandes
Capable: Roland Lamah
Emergency: Carlos Cermeno
For now, Morales is our projected starter in this role. I do think that once Diaz gets back to full health and fitness that he will take over that role. I still get a little excited at the possibility that we’re going to get Diaz potentially at his peak fitness this year late in the season.
Still, this area is very strong for the club as you have two MVP-type players leading it up and a guy like Pomykal waiting in the wings to learn from these guys.
Natural: Carlos Cermeno, Roland Lamah
Capable: Atiba Harris, Coy Craft, Mauro Diaz, Michael Barrios, Jesus Ferreira
Emergency: Paxton Pomykal, Wuilito Fernandes
FCD should feel pretty good about their left wing options this season after losing Fabian Castillo mid-way through last year. Replacing him with Lamah could end up being a like-for-like when it is all said and done. His experience will lend itself well to the team and Cermeno as a backup is a good option as well to have.
Natural: Maxi Urruti, Cristian Colman, Jesus Ferreira, Bryan Reynolds, Adonijah Reid, Tesho Akindele
Capable: Coy Craft
Emergency: Michael Barrios, Atiba Harris
If we’re sticking with the 4-2-3-1 look, Colman should project as the starter. But it could still revert back to Urruti at the beginning of the year should Pareja opt for someone that he is more comfortable with early on. If it is a 4-4-2, then slot Urruti in for sure next to Colman.
The one thing I do struggle with in this is finding Craft a natural spot these days. He was a forward in his youth days but anymore he is typically a winger. I’m not completely sold on calling him a natural winger just yet but maybe this year will convince me in that.
Lastly, this team has a lot of attacking options. Most of them are super young too which is both exciting and daunting to look at. While Ferreira, Reid and Reynolds are all exciting projects, it will be very interesting to see what happens to them this year in terms of playing time. I would expect a lot of them to get youth national team minutes, as well as some loan minutes here and there.