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Building for 2019: Will FC Dallas’ defense improve with more depth?

The Dallas defense was a cornerstone of the team, until they struggled down the stretch.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As we continue on in the offseason, today we’re going to spend some time on the FC Dallas defense and how it could be built for next season.

Going into the 2018 season, we knew that FC Dallas would have to re-tool in the back after a pretty rough 2017. The work in the offseason paid off for the most part as FC Dallas had one of the stronger defenses throughout the season.

For next season though, the defense will need some depth in spots and hopefully nothing else.

Background information

For starters, I like to point out the salary cap, which this season was at $4.035 million. So for our purposes in this series, we will use a baseline cap of $4.2 million as the cap is expected that mark by 2019.

MLS teams as most of you know can buy down a players salary with allocation, either of the general or targeted variety. Those Garber Bucks as some like to call it help bring a players salary cap hit down. In recent years, FC Dallas has received some extra allocation for either earning a spot in the CCL or by not reaching the post season. This year, they will have to be crafty in getting more through trades.

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.

Starting group looks strong, but questions remain

Going into today, FC Dallas has seven defenders under contract.

  1. Will we actually see Chris Richards in a Dallas uniform in 2018? I think right now this could be my biggest question mark with this group. Richards was loaned out to Bayern Munich during the summer shortly after signing a Homegrown deal with FC Dallas. Currently, all signs seem to point to him remaining in Germany with the club buying out his deal with Dallas. While that may stink to lose out on a big-time future center back, the transfer fee could end up being worth it.
  2. Is Moises Hernandez going to see any time? One of the bigger shocks this year was seeing Hernandez come back to Dallas in a bit of a redemption story (a la his BFF Victor Ulloa). But things didn’t really pan out with the first team as he was loaned to San Antonio in the USL for part of the fall. Some how he ended up with a second year on his contract with the club (some savvy agent he must have), which makes you wonder if he’ll be a depth piece or will he be in the USL as a leader of the newly formed D3 side?
  3. Where will the depth come from? I think as far as a starting back four, the combo of Reggie Cannon and Marquinhos Pedroso on the wings with Reto Ziegler and Matt Hedges in the middle is about as good as it can get in MLS right now. When those four were on their game, this team was tough to break down. But they all faded hard in the last portion of the season and the results spoke for themselves. Ryan Hollingshead is a great depth piece but when we only see him for 10-15 games, that may not be enough.

The money

Here is how the team looked against the cap in 2018:

  • Reggie Cannon - $67,500 *
  • Moises Hernandez - $67,500
  • Matt Hedges - $525,004 ^
  • Ryan Hollingshead - $145,000
  • Marquinhos Pedroso - $330,000 ^
  • Bryan Reynolds - $56,500 *
  • Chris Richards - $123,750 *
  • Reto Ziegler - $800,000 ^

Total towards the cap: $1,551,250

Total with the goalkeepers: $1,952,750

* Homegrown player, salary does not count towards the cap

^ TAM signing (max budget charge for a single player $504,375)

Note: It is possible some TAM players above were paid down more than the max budget charge.

Money moving forward

Dallas could easily see some more money being thrown into this department before February. First of all, let’s get Cannon a big raise and get him onto the senior roster. I think we’ll also see some raises for each player like we do every season.

Overall, I’m good with where the spending is for this group. I still believe that in order to win titles in this league, you do have to have a strong defense.

Wants and needs for 2019

The big need is obviously depth across the board. I think seeing how much a guy like Reynolds gets to play at right back when Cannon needs a break in 2019 will be an interesting thing to keep an eye out on.

Losing Maynor Figueroa’s hefty $250k salary helps Dallas go out and sign a player at that similar price (or even above with some TAM if it is available) to go in as depth behind Hedges and Ziegler.

Then there is the question on two other Homegrown defenders that were in house in 2018, in Jordan Cano and Kris Reaves. Both were let go recently but we could see them get an invite to camp (depending on the new manager of course) to help either add to that depth or for that USL squad.

Final thoughts and figures

I say this just about every year with this group, I want Dallas to spend well in the back. This year was really the first year in a long time that I felt they did just that. There was solid depth behind the main starters and even when Anton Nedyalkov left in the summer, a back up plan was already in place with Pedroso.

If anything, this group is a solid core to build on for more in 2019. The money is certainly there to do some good. I wouldn’t mind seeing a guy Kevin Ellis, Sheanon Williams, or someone else that has MLS experience be brought in as depth.

What do you make of how FCD is spending on the defense? Would you like to see more money allocated in this area?