It first broke on the Athletic by Sam Stejskal yesterday that FC Dallas signed Paxton Pomykal to a massive extension that would keep him FCD colors through 2024. Then Dallas officially made their announcement that Pomykal, 19, will be the face of the franchise for years to come.
The details of the deal were astonishing, given that the reports indicated that Pomykal’s average salary through 2023 would be in the $650,000 range. That pay raise pushes him into the elite tier of Homegrowns who’ve been awarded handsomely for their play. Based on the MLS Players salary guide, Pomykal’s salary puts him as third highest paid Homegrown, behind Gyasi Zardes ($1.47M), and Kellyn Acosta ($665K).
Is this too much, too soon for a teenager who’s just about to complete his first full season as regularly featured professional? I don’t think so and here’s why.
Pomykal carries himself like he’s 29
Remember when he first signed his initial Homegrown contract where it was revealed that he had requested the revered #19? Pomykal was 16 at the time and had the nerve and integrity to to ask the club and Bevan Rhine, the late Bobby Rhine’s wife, if he could honor Bobby’s legacy by adorning his number. Since then Pomykal has been nothing but the consummate professional, befitting of everything the FC Dallas franchise is looking for - a local kid, incredible talent, and the maturity of someone three times his age.
Pomykal hasn’t played much towards the end of the season, seemingly having lost his starting spot for now, but has carried himself like a true pro and ideal teammate from the bench and with the media.
Paxton has always excelled at his age bracket through the Academy and Under 18, 19 and 20s at the USYNT levels. At 17, he won the 2017 Dallas Cup for FCD’s U-18 Academy. Then made another splash by winning both the U-16 and U-18 National Championships.
Pomykal then played a key part for the US U20s during qualifying and at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland, and was named captain for several games.
The biggest question mark was whether or not he could make the jump and play out of his age group, and this season show cased just that with plays like this:
Fantastic goal for Dallas from Acosta but this assist from US U-20 playmaker Paxton Pomykal was terrific pic.twitter.com/nSNTUmy2EH— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) March 9, 2019
Pomykal’s stats weren’t off the charts (2 goals, 5 assists off 1876 minutes) but it was his two way play that kept the fans and media around the league, salivating at his potential. He also averaged 41.3 passes per game, with an 86.4% completion rate, and 1.5 key passes per game to boot. Defensively, he contributed an astonishing 2.3 tackles per game, which is very high for a primarily attacking player. For context, a similar player would be Nicolas Lodeiro, and he put in a respectable 1.3 tackles per game.
We’ve talked about it here, and the good folks like Mark Followill and Steve Davis have lauded Pomykal on TV for his willingness to have his foot on the ball at all times, no matter how marked he is, he wants the ball and wants to move it forward. It’s pretty difficult to strip the ball from Pomykal’s possession, and his willingness to take defenders on makes him a very useful player to give the defense a break and the offense a chance to find their spaces.
It’s good business
It’s great to romanticize this story about a local kid who grew up in the Dallas area and is now the face of the franchise, but make no mistake that this was a tactical move too to secure FCD’s financial footing. There were reports over the summer that Paxton’s play for FCD and at the U20 World Cup drew the attention of several European suitors from the leagues Serie A and Bundesliga.
After losing Weston McKennie for free, Dallas has done the right thing of learning from that mistake and have tied up key players early to professional contracts. By giving Pomykal a lucrative, long term contract it serves two purposes: it secures the future of FC Dallas’ competitive standing in MLS and should any major European club come knocking, they will have to pony up some serious cash to convince Dallas to sell.
Paxton is no fool. He knows this. And that’s why he wears the #19. He will do what’s best for FC Dallas and himself too. It’s only a matter of time before Pomykal gets sold and he vacates the #19 to the next Homegrown, but he’s doing the club a service by making sure that when that happens, his hometown club gets properly compensated financially.
I wrote back in March that the success or failures of 2019 rested on Paxton’s shoulders. I still think that’s true, and if Dallas is going to get a result at Seattle next weekend, it’ll need Pomykal on the field. Where I was wrong with my original prediction was that it wasn’t just 2019 that Pomykal would be responsible for, but for the next five years and them some too.