Preseason camp is a week in at this point as FC Dallas is getting set to take on a pair of lower division teams tomorrow in their first scrimmages of 2020 before they head out west to battle some conference foes in Vancouver and LAFC.
So far the preseason camp has shined some lights on some key roster battles that head coach Luchi Gonzalez is going to have to sort out. As the team progresses in preseason, here are a few roster battles that I will be keeping a close watch on.
Disclaimer: for now I’m not including any of the unsigned rookies in this piece or guys that won’t join the roster until later this summer. We’re only talking about guys that are signed to contracts at the moment.
Fafa Picault vs Santiago Mosquera
Truthfully, this may be the biggest roster battle of them all this preseason. Picault comes in with blazing speed but Mosquera does know the system that Gonzalez wants to employ a bit better. This one really could come down to who has the hotter feet come Leap Day for that starting spot against Philadelphia. Part of me thinks that if Mosquera is healthy, it is his spot to lose right now but Picault’s defensive abilities might just give him the edge in Luchi’s system.
Thiago Santos vs Edwin Cerrillo/Bryan Acosta
Santos is expected to be the guy in the defensive portion of the midfield this season but given how he has not arrived yet to training due to his visa status, it could mean that guys like Cerrillo and Acosta could be more in line to earn a starting spot for opening day than Santos. I know Cerrillo is really the main competition for Santos in the end when you look at the depth chart but I’m lumping in Acosta here as well since he played a decent portion of 2019 in the #6 type role. I think though that once Santos gets settled, it will be his spot to lose.
Bressan vs Reto Ziegler
This was a roster battle to watch for going into 2019 and I think it remains the same in 2020. Neither are getting younger however and you could make the case for a Callum Montgomery to be slotted in this battle as well, but my gut tells me that FCD will be looking to loan him to a USL-C side in 2020 rather than have him in Frisco.
Still, Bressan looked decent in moments last year at center back, while Ziegler was still his reliable self alongside Matt Hedges. Should the Swiss center back see time off the field with any injuries this year, you can bet that Bressan will be the first guy in the lineup to replace him.
Bryan Reynolds vs Eddie Munjoma vs Ema Twumasi
I know technically all three are backing up Reggie Cannon but in my mind, the real battle is going to be who replaces him once he departs Frisco either during the summer or following the 2020 season. All three bring a different pace to the game, and on paper it seems like Reynolds is the most likely guy to get the nod after Cannon (though we’ve seen Luchi go to Bressan as well). Munjoma had a standout year in 2019 with SMU to help earn his HGP contract this winter, while Twumasi had a solid spell with USL-C side Austin Bold.
I think this preseason will be rather telling as to who Luchi prefers as the main backup. I wouldn’t sleep on either of the HGPs in this mix right now.
Jesus Ferreira vs Paxton Pomykal
Lastly on my radar is the battle in the attacking midfield. Both guys showed well in the creative role in 2019 and we will certainly see them duel for it in 2020. The tricky part is one is coming off an offseason surgery (Pomykal) and the other has missed time in camp due to being with the United States Men’s National Team (Ferreira). My gut tells me this job is going to be Ferreira’s to lose out of the gate with Pomykal getting some spot duty off the bench early on as he gets back to full health. But once he’s 100%, all bets could be off in what Luchi ends up doing here. It could come down to chemistry with the rest of the starters. Or it could come down to how well one is playing in training over the other. Either way, I’m grabbing my popcorn to watch this one.