A new season of soccer is almost upon us here. FC Dallas players reported back to Frisco this week as they begin training for the first time in 2020. Just as with any new season, there are a lot of questions going into the preseason camp that you hope gets cleared up along the way before First Kick.
Here are a few questions I have that I will be looking at over the next few weeks.
Can Cobra emerge out of the gate this year?
To say that Zdenek Ondrasek’s rise at the end of the season in 2019 was a surprise may be an understatement. After being nonexistent in the Dallas attack for the first two thirds of the season, we really didn’t know what to expect once he started his goal scoring spell in Montreal late July.
Year two of Cobra has to be a different story at the start of the year, especially if the club is looking to bring in a No. 9 like Franco Jara. Not only does Cobra need a strong preseason to come out as the top forward in the team but he has to show that he can guide this still relatively young group of players back to the playoffs for a second year in a row. If he struggles to do that early on, we will likely see the offense continue to be on and off.
Which Homegrown player has the most to gain?
Last year we saw the emergence of Paxton Pomykal, Jesus Ferreira and Brandon Servania. We also saw a lot out of guys like Edwin Cerrillo too. This year hopefully and should be no different as further down the depth charts you really hope to see a little more of someone like Ricardo Pepi, Thomas Roberts, Bryan Reynolds or even our newest HGP in Eddie Munjoma.
I think still at the end of the day, the HGP with the very most to gain is Reggie Cannon. Since he is basically the only HGP to not get a contract extension this offseason due to either the money not being right or something (we truly don’t know the full story), this is indeed a contract year for him. The more he gets with the United States National Team, the better his chances of securing a transfer deal at some point in 2020. As much as I would hate to see Cannon depart Dallas in 2020, you have to get a sense that his time with the club is certainly coming to an end before long.
How does Luchi-ball develop further in Year 2?
We saw the possession built from the defense a lot in 2019. Keeper Jesse Gonzalez had a career year in terms of having the ball at his feet and being a distributor out of the back with his defensive back-four. But Luchi Gonzalez will certainly tell you that things have to improve further up the field in his style of attack. He wants more energy and movement, which is why the club brought in guys like Thiago Santos and Fafa Picault, while the likes of Dominque Badji were left open to the trade market this winter.
Santos is going to help free up guys like Bryan Acosta, Pomykal, Ferreira and even the wingers to be more of themselves with the way he attacks the ball on the defensive end. Not mention he’s quick, maybe not as quick as Picault but if Dallas added anything this winter it was speed in those two moves. That kind of speed will help in the long run that is the marathon season in MLS.
Will there be any impact from the rookies drafted?
Dallas has always been well regarded in the MLS SuperDraft with how they identify talent. This year should be no different as they were able to snag a set of players that they’ll likely hold on to and stash in the USL League One with North Texas SC.
First round picks Nkosi Burgess and Cal Jennings should have the leg up on the rest of the draft picks in terms of finding their way into a lineup at some point, maybe in the USOC later this spring. But don’t sleep on second round pick Manuel Ferriol. Gonzalez spoke very highly of the midfielder out of James Madison for his soccer IQ, something he loves to tap into both on and off the field.