There has been a lot of talk about Fernando Clavijo over the years. We like to quesiton whether or not he has done enough with the signings he’s made. Does he improve the squad on the limited budget he is given?
Instead of going all the way back to his start when Schellas Hyndman was here, we are going to go through the last three years, to discuss each player’s impact and ranking each transfer into the side out of 10, 1 being awful and 10 being excellent.
Atiba Harris (8), Michael Barrios (10), Rolando Escobar (5), Kyle Bekker (2), Dan Kennedy (7), and Walter Cabrera (1), Ezequiel Cirigliano (5), Bakary Soumare (0).
Let’s start with the draft picks and trades here, somewhere Clavijo is very strong. Atiba Harris, regardless of your feelings has done a big job for Dallas in the last three years. He is a great squad guy and has moved all over the field for this club. He was an excellent pick-up in hindsight. Dan Kennedy was first choice goalkeeper for most of the season, before Jesse Gonzalez broke out at the end. A team struggling with depth got a first team keeper, solid pick-up.
Bekker is the loser on the list. He featured in a few games, but there was a good reason Toronto got rid of him and he certainly wasn’t depth for Mauro Diaz, he was a bad trade ultimately.
Soumare was worse. Dallas traded Bekker to Montreal for Soumare, a CB with a recurring head injury who was forced to retire. If this trade were for a player better than Bekker, it would have been a robbery.
Dallas transfers that year were Michael Barrios on a free, Rolando Escobar on a free, and Walter Cabrera on loan halfway through the season. Cabrera was a total dud at CB, and I don’t even remember if he featured. Escobar wasn’t impressive and certainly couldn’t back-up Diaz well. In his limited appearances it’s pretty easy to say he was a bust, but again, free, not the end of the world.
Barrios was the year’s breakout player. He very quickly pushed into a starting role, and has held it ever since. He shined alongside Fabian Castillo and proved to be a dangerous attacker in his own right, while costing almost nothing in salary. He was an excellent signing.
Cirigliano looked promising at times, and less so at others, but as a loan he was there for depth and he did alright for what he was.
Clavijo got a first team starter, two good squad players, an alright loanee, and four duds while spending almost nothing to do it. Depth for Diaz was a big issue as was CB depth and in those areas the signings fail. At the same time, Barrios ignited a new threat on offense, Kennedy held down the goal, and Atiba is still a massive piece of this team.
Carlos Gruezo (10), Mauro Rosales (7), Maxi Urruti (10), Maynor Figueroa (10), Juan Ortiz (4), Aubrey David (6), Carlos Lizarazo (4), Agustin Jara (1), Getterson (1), Norberto Paparatto (2), Carlos Ruiz (6).
2016 was a veritable mixed bag. Gruezo came over from Germany and made a huge impact on the team defensively, but at a price of roughly $1.5 million. Totally worth it. In the Re-Entry Draft Dallas traded up and snagged Urruti who had floated around MLS as a substitute striker with Portland and Toronto, but with some starts showed that he is the hardest working forward in MLS and with over 20 goals for Dallas in the last two years has been a key starter for the club. Figueroa was brought in to provide experience and shore up the defense and he absolutely has done that. Those three were excellent pieces of business.
Rosales was old, and obviously wouldn’t start much, but as depth for Diaz he did alright. He came up with big goals, was creative, and if he could play for more than 15 minutes most people would have wanted him in the starting 11.
Ortiz and Lizarazo were ultimately flops. Liz was a project loan, that didn’t amount to much and Ortiz was meant to provide experience to the defensive midfield and be a depth piece, but he was not up to the task.
Aubrey David was good full-back depth as a loan to buy option, and while he did well, FCD decided to pass on buying him in the end. Jara was a bad piece of business. There is a good reason he was working in a factory in Argentina and how Clavijo found him who knows, but when you’re looking for diamonds in the rough, you’re going to find some rough. Getterson is basically Jara part two, except Getterson was slightly better than Jara…slightly (though there are those on our staff with plenty of love for Getterson). Paparatto was brought in as CB depth, but didn’t have much left in his tank.
Ruiz was brought in to score a goal and be a veteran and he did that. Seeing how late in the window it was and on a free he did what he was signed to do.
This team was good enough to do a double and that was thanks to the successes of players like Figueroa, Gruezo, and Urruti. Without those three, that would be an entirely different team. His spending on Gruezo was justified. Trading up to get Urruti was a savvy move. The loans and midseason signings were disappointing, but provided a little bit of depth at least. Clavijo didn’t uncover any serious diamonds in the rough, but when he brought guys in for the first team he did very well.
Roland Lamah (8), Anibal Chala (~), Hernan Grana (8), Jacori Hayes (5), Walker Hume (~), Carlos Cermeno (6), Cristian Colman (4).
This season is harder to define as it’s still ongoing, so add a little asterisk to everyone on the list for 2017, the jury is still out for all of these guys.
Lamah is not Castillo, but what he lacks in creativity he makes up for in industry. Lamah works hard and when serviced he scores. Maybe he is lucky to have eight goals, but if you have eight goals in your first MLS season, you are doing at least a few things right, even if they are all braces against weak teams. Grana is a good fullback. The team obviously wanted to go more attacking this year and Grana fits the bill perfectly. Sadly that play style hasn’t worked out, but that is a tactical problem, not really on Grana. Hayes and Cermeno look like good midfield depth. Hayes went on loan and did well in Tulsa, Cermeno is fourth choice defensive midfield, but has impressed on several occasions.
Spending has let Dallas down this year. Chala’s injury left him out of the team despite being a young Designated Player and his loan back to Ecuador isn’t very encouraging, but anything could happen with him. If he plays at Dallas next year, we could look back and label this a 10. If he is gone in December than he is a one.
Hume has done ok at CB. He looks like he might have potential, but a lack of time makes him hard to call one way or another.
Finally, for the big talking point, Colman for roughly $2 million. Colman has four goals this year, but has spent most of his time on the bench due to a woeful scoring drought and a prime form Urruti. Right now it’s easy to say Colman is a bust, but he is also not playing enough to judge seriously. He could turn it on next season with added minutes and we’ll be made to look foolish.
2017 was not a terrible window for Clavijo, while his one big signing has been disappointing so far, the depth has been more promising and the starting pieces have been decent to good, with potential to be better or worse.
My verdict is that Clavijo is doing a good job on a limited budget. He has found several good players for free and snapped at opportunities such as Gruezo and Urruti. The players brought in for the first team are usually impressive, while depth and drafts tend to be a lot riskier, something that is true all over MLS. Clavijo is doing a lot with a little, one potentially bad purchase does not change that fact. A six game winless streak doesn’t change that fact.
Do you think Clavijo is doing well with FC Dallas’s transfers?