Whether we like it or not, FC Dallas is in the offseason here after crashing out of the MLS Cup Playoffs last week. The 2018 season will be one that we’ll all probably wonder ‘what if’ on for some time as the team was good but just not good enough in the end.
Now the full march towards 2019 begins as we dive into some offseason topics for you to keep watch on.
The search for a new striker
While I kind of see this as another offseason of rebuilding for FC Dallas, I think the key item to watch for right now is going to be whether or not they can actually land a good, proven goal scorer this winter.
The last few additions in this department hasn’t paid off. Cristian Colman was brought in two years ago, in what was then the club’s largest transfer fee. His production over the last two seasons went from no great to down right sad. Across 41 games in the two seasons in Dallas, Colman has brought in just four goals.
Newcomer Dominque Badji didn’t fare too well this summer when he was brought in through the Kellyn Acosta trade. Two goals in ten games isn’t a great sample size but the eye-ball test alone would tell anyone that it just wasn’t good enough.
Now that Fernando Clavijo has exited the club due to his health and Luiz Muzzi has stepped into the main role of building this roster with head coach Oscar Pareja, it is almost imperative that they figure out their needs at striker for 2019. They built a solid defense heading into 2018, now it is time to get the attack up to that same level.
Designated Player watch
And with that line of thinking comes the club’s use of their DP slots in 2019. Right now we see Colman, Carlos Gruezo and Santiago Mosquera all in those three available slots. My gut tells me that Colman is easily the odd man out here with the DP tag as the club could move on from him or at least make a move to lower his cap hit with Targeted Allocation Money (similar to what they did with Mauro Diaz). Hell, they could do that with Gruezo as well.
This offseason feels like it could be a turning point for how the club uses their DP slots moving forward. They’ve typically gone the Young DP route, as it is cheaper on the salary cap and is more of a low-risk, high-reward type deal (though Colman’s transfer was certainly high-risk given the price tag).
I think if Muzzi is able to go out and continue to find quality players like we saw him do in 2018 (he was on the hook for brining in the likes of Reto Ziegler, Marqinhos Pedroso, Mosquera, etc.), then we may be in for finally landing another quality DP.
All the drafts
Like any offseason in Major League Soccer, it will be filled with draft after draft. Once MLS Cup is over we’ll have what almost feels like an annual Expansion Draft, this time for newcomers FC Cincinnati. Dallas will have to protect their usual allotment of players, while hoping not to see one go. If it is like last year with LAFC, we’ll only see five players selected, which helps FCD’s case for not losing someone. We plan to go into our protection lists here very soon.
From there we’ll see Waiver Drafts, Re-Entry Draft with two stages, Free Agency period and of course the SuperDraft in January.
FC Dallas right now has two first round picks in January’s draft, the fourth overall selection thanks to the Acosta trade and one further down in the first round that would be their natural selection.
After wheeling and dealing last year in the SuperDraft, I wouldn’t be shocked to see FC Dallas make more noise this coming year with those two selections at their disposal.
How FCD 2 is built
That leads into this next topic, that I’m sure many of you are excited to see unfold over the next few months. Last week, FC Dallas was finally revealed as an expansion team for the newly formed USL League One in 2019. Right now we don’t know the name, the logo, the coach or even any of the players for it but we do know this is the right step for the club to make in terms of player development.
Take a look at the back end of the roster right now, I see guys like Kris Reaves, Francis Ateuhene, and Bryan Reynolds that could get some time there next year before making the jump up into some MLS minutes. Who knows, maybe we’ll see another influx of Homegrown signings this winter that will all begin their time in the USL instead of MLS.
At the end of the day, it’s an exciting time for the future of FC Dallas.
After last week’s comments between Stu Holden and our fanbase (mainly one of our writers here at Big D Soccer, Stu’s tweets were deleted but we can always recover them if you are all curious) over attendance woes during the playoffs. I have to think that this could also be an interesting time to see how the club markets itself this offseason.
2018 was a year that we actually saw billboards around town between games, promoting the team. Hopefully that was just the start with the National Soccer Hall of Fame open (as of this past weekend, it is open to the public!) and the team is actually able to sell the full stadium for the first time in what feels like forever.
The team saw a small bump in attendance averages from 2017 into 2018, just a small one. We’re talking an extra 400 fans from 2017 into 2018 to push the average up to 15,512.
But what can be done to get the team’s average up past 16k? Or better yet, towards 18k or a full sellout each week? Those seem to be the questions we all continue to ask of this club each and every year.