When FC Dallas announced their roster moves earlier this week, the underlying message appeared to be consistency and growth.
The team released a handful of players, including Designated Player Santiago Mosquera and veteran Reto Ziegler. At the same time, the team announced efforts to resign veteran CB Bressan and young GK Phelipe Megiolaro. This means FC Dallas, at least paper, will go into 2021 with a squad that is fairly stable in its makeup but, due to its number of homegrown players, has plenty of room to grow in talent and ability.
Of course, with rumors of Bryan Reynolds heading east, we know that additional roster shakeup could be in the mix over what will likely be an intriguing winter transfer window.
What does FC Dallas prioritize then to get the team to the next level in 2021?
If you haven’t read Tom Bogert’s latest piece on MLSSoccer about FC Dallas, I recommend it before we go any further. Here’s one juicy quote:
“We’re going to be open (to adding) at all positions,” head coach Luchi Gonzalez said. “Obviously not re-signing Reto we’re going to be looking at a center back. Potentially, one or two attacking pieces could be added. We’ll be looking at that position. We have good pieces internally, but we need to be smart (in additions). It’s going to be a few tweaks we believe can help us take a big step.”
FC Dallas, in essence, has the flexibility to go in a variety of directions and address any area on the field that they think they can improve.
Here’s a few of mine:
It’s no secret that the area FC Dallas got the least production this year was on its wings. Michael Barrios had a significant decline in his play at the right wing, eventually not starting the last two playoff games. Santiago Mosquera pitched in a few goals, including an exhilarating hat trick, which he seems able to do in spurts, and then got injured or disappeared. Fafa Picault worked hard and had a few moments as well, but it was clear the team needed more from him.
Part of the problem with the wings isn’t just individual play - it’s also looking to other players and whether they are getting into positions that give our wingers options for crosses and passes. I don’t think Dallas always had the right mentality with guys getting in and around the box to create opportunities. The whole system is going to need some tweaks in 2021.
But a productive star left winger would take a lot of burden off of Barrios and challenge Fafa and other youngsters to be at their best to earn minutes. The left wing has to be the clear offseason priority. Of course, there’s only one caveat to this - where to fit Paxton Pomykal into the starting lineup? If Paxton is projected to take over the left wing, maybe getting stud wing help gets shuffled down the list.
I agree in general with Luchi’s reflections that Franco Jara will benefit from an offseason to train and gel with his teammates. At times, it was clear that Jara was capable of being a force but also completely disconnected with his teammates. I think some formation adjustments are going to need to happen to get the most out of the veteran scorer. Let’s do what we can to remain hopeful about Jara in 2021.
But beyond Jara, things get a little interesting. Ricardo Pepi does seem poised to take a next step, and Jesus Ferreira can obviously give you minutes in that role. The team missed Zdenek Ondrasek down the stretch though, especially in the playoffs. Imagine Kobra coming in against Seattle to push the game? A solid veteran striker would add to the squad’s depth and maybe even given the team an alternative to Franco Jara if he struggles again.
Sort Out the Defense
Will Bressan sign a new contract? If he does, FC Dallas looks pretty good going into 2021, if a little green at center back with the departure of Callum Montgomery. If Reynolds leaves, we’ve already got some idea of who could fill that right back spot, including Eddie Munjoma or Ryan Hollingshead. Still, a team that plans to be in contention will need to have a solid back line, and for the most part, it looks like FC Dallas has that primed and ready to go.
Even if Bressan does sign on the dotted line, FC Dallas might be wise to kick the tires on some veteran centerbacks around the league, in particular a guy like Matt Besler. My challenge with bringing in Besler is that he would almost certainly want a starting spot. I’d love to see a couple of years of a Besler/Hedges tandem, so bring it on. But Bressan’s decision might change the calculus on such a scenario.
Alternately, the team may want to find another Bressan-like player to round out the depth there, an international who may not start right away but could step in down the road.
Get Paxton Ready
Ultimately, 2021 will run through Paxton Pomykal. If the young homegrown star can get healthy and take the next step, FC Dallas is going to move to the next level. FC Dallas needs to do everything they can to get Paxton ready.
- What do you think FC Dallas’ offseason priorities need to be?
- What’s at the top of your list?