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Building for 2019: What will the FC Dallas midfield look like?

Plenty of talent but also plenty of question marks.

MLS: FC Dallas at Los Angeles Galaxy Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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

This year’s group saw some consistency over the course of the season as Oscar Pareja rotated some players throughout the year to help manage minutes and injuries. The depth was decent enough but at the end, the attacking portion dried up.

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.

The core remains but questions linger

Going into today, FC Dallas has nine midfielders under contract.

  1. Wing depth still a question. At the moment you have guys like Santiago Mosquera and Michael Barrios but behind them is relatively empty. Paxton Pomykal could be thrown out to the wing but I would rather see him in the middle, same might even be said for Thomas Roberts. Pablo Aranquiz was also used on the wings at time but...
  2. Will 2019 be the year we allow Aranguiz unleashed? We all wanted to see more of him so badly down the stretch that it hurt. In a weird way, it felt very similar to what we saw in the lack of minutes for Reggie Cannon in the ladder stages of the 2017 season. 2019 may be a season that goes with Aranguiz. Hopefully by then he’ll be ready for the long haul.
  3. Will anyone depart? While the core is still there, you have to wonder when guys like Carlos Gruezo, Barrios and even someone like Roberts will depart. My gut tells me we won’t have all three of them in 2019, but will we have any of them? Lots of lingering questions in that department for whomever ends up as technical director and head coach.
  4. What is the best shape of this group? This could be said for the entire team as a whole but we saw some 4-3-3 last year, a tiny bit of a 3-5-2 and down the stretch the tried and true 4-2-3-1. We’ve talked a lot on here about how Gruezo and Victor Ulloa are too similar to be on the field at the same time, while Jacori Hayes’ minutes faded away late in the year. Maybe we’ll see more of Brandon Servania? Either way, this is going to be a fun topic to discuss in the coming weeks.

The money

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

  • Pablo Aranguiz - $459,999^
  • Michael Barrios - $400,000^
  • Carlos Gruezo - $730,750 **
  • Jacori Hayes - $75,750
  • Santiago Mosquera $541,400 **
  • Paxton Pomykal - $90,000 *
  • Thomas Roberts - $88,750 *
  • Brandon Servania - $186,000 *
  • Victor Ulloa - $182,500

Total towards the cap: $1,518,249

Total with the defenders & goalkeepers: $3,470,999

* Homegrown player, salary does not count towards the cap

** Young DP (max budget charge for a single player $200,000)

^ 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

Having those Homegrown players in this department sure helps the cap (similar to how the forwards group is flush with HGPs and GAs that don’t count against the cap). Still, some things will have to be decided for 2019 as both Mosquera and Gruezo will come off the Young DP label and will likely need to be bought down with TAM/GAM.

Wants and needs for 2019

The big need here is still depth at the wings. You could make the case that guys like Francis Atuahene and Ema Twumasi could be labeled as a midfielder on the wings and be apart of this group, and that would help solve some depth issues. The other side of me says that the upcoming drafts could be a place that FCD searches for a few pieces here.

Finding the right attacking midfielder (or #10) is also key here this offseason. Maxi Urruti was good at times but we’d all rather see Aranguiz, Pomykal and Roberts get their fair shot at that position in 2019.

Final thoughts and figures

If this entire group stays together through the winter, I will actually be surprised but also a bit relieved in a way. It is a core group of this team and a lot of them have been together for a while now. Consistency in this league is a big thing and that would go a long way in returning to the playoffs in 2019.

What do you make of the spending in this department? Do you expect to still see some players leave this offseason as the front office staff sorts itself out? Let us know below.