Every preseason not only brings roster battles and new faces but a chance for some players to step up in big ways and prove that they deserve more playing time in the new season. Last year we had high hopes for several young players and this year is really no different under new FC Dallas manager Luchi Gonzalez.
While the preseason may be fairly short in terms of the calendar, there is a lot to be gained for several players. Here are five guys that have the most to gain from a strong final month of the preseason.
The young Homegrown made his transition to right back last year under Oscar Pareja and so far again in preseason, we’re seeing him there. With Reggie Cannon away for the first half of the preseason with the United States Men’s National Team, Reynolds has been given a nice chance by Gonzalez to show that he could be the right guy to be the backup to Cannon on the depth charts this season and even see some solid playing time during the Gold Cup this summer if Cannon gets called away again.
For the last two years we’ve been hoping to see more of Pomykal on the field. I think this is finally the year we get more of him. He’s been given a lot of freedom so far this preseason under Gonzalez and given that Bryan Acosta hasn’t arrived yet due to visa reasons, he’s getting plenty of time to earn a starting spot in the 4-3-3 that Gonzalez appears to be using these days. He may not be in the #10 role like some might expect but if he can figure out how to play a good linking role in the midfield, he could shine for this club.
I think if Pomykal has a big weekend against the likes of Bayern Munich’s U23 side and later this month in Arizona, we’ll likely see a lot of him early in March with the first team.
Right now Badji has two things going for him to earn a starting spot on opening day. One, he’s familiar with the league and the majority of this team. And two, he appears to currently have the leg up on newcomer Zdenek Ondrasek, who continues to be with the second team.
As much as I would like to think Ondrasek will actually solve FCD’s #9 woes this season, Badji may actually need to be the guy at the end of the day who actually does it. We know he can score, we saw that as much during this Colorado days with limited service. Given that he’ll have a full preseason with the likes of Michael Barrios, Santiago Mosquera, Pomykal and Pablo Aranguiz, I think this starting role is Badji’s to lose.
A lot of people seem to think he’ll be with Bayern before long, in the same way that Chris Richards ended up there. I kind of think the opposite though as FC Dallas will work hard to keep him and bring him along at the right pace this year. He’ll get plenty of time with North Texas Soccer Club in the USL1 but he should see time with the first team this summer when the schedule gets a little crazy.
Either way, these next few weeks will be key for him to work his way from what appears to be a third group/mixture of NTSC guys and into at least that second group.
This one is a bit of a cheat as he isn’t technically on either FC Dallas or North Texas SC right now but all signs point to him being the next FCD Homegrown signed. So far he’s been seen with the second group this preseason and has done pretty well by some of the reports given.
Currently he is listed with NTSC but has been training full time with the first team. In all, Cerillo just need to continue plugging away this preseason to earn a contract. My gut tells me he’ll be a HGP that gets loaned down to NTSC for the majority of this season but time will certainly tell.
Honorable menton: Jacori Hayes, Brandon Servania, Ema Twumasi, Callum Montgomery, John Nelson