Now that the offseason is officially underway for FC Dallas, so come the end of year roster moves that they’ll be announcing in the coming days (likely by the end of this week). With a wild 2020 under their belts that saw them miss out on the MLS is Back tournament and then find a way to prove themselves into being a tough out in the MLS Playoffs for Portland and then Seattle, there is a lot of work to be done for next year beginning today.
Here are some big questions I have about this roster going into the roster announcement that will come out and what I think the club should be doing for 2021.
How many more transfers will we see going into and through January?
So Pablo Aranguiz is done. That one we know. Bryan Reynolds appears to be next. Tanner Tessman could also be on the way out as well this winter if things progress. Possibly Thomas Roberts who is currently on trail with Scotland’s Hibernian FC (more on that one in a second).
I would imagine FC Dallas will retain as much of these guys as they possibly can when they do make their end-of-year roster announcements but the bigger question may really end up being for how long?
Which veteran players will/should exit?
As young as this roster is, they do have plenty of veteran players leading the way. Let’s look at the three Designated Players first.
Franco Jara is the most recent of the bunch and there is a lot of speculation as to whether or not he did enough to earn more time here going into 2021. My gut tells me, he’ll be back but not at a DP level on the roster. FCD needs to open these DP slots back up and buying down his contract into at least a TAM-looking deal would be ideal. That, or cut the losses and move on from him altogether (would the Hunts be bold enough to do that?).
Santiago Mosquera is the next one who is on the list and I believe he was in the final year of his original deal with the club. I don’t think there are many fans out there that would say they want him back at a DP deal, or even back period. Personally, I’d move on and look elsewhere at his position. He’s inconsistent and often injured to the point that you aren’t getting enough return on value for his roster status.
Lastly is Bryan Acosta. Okay, I go back and forth on this one, as I do think he’s a solid locker room guy. He should have at least one more year on his current deal with the club, likely a club option that will be extended. His injuries down the stretch the year really could come into play there. I’d love to see him get out of the DP deal altogether but I have a feeling that won’t happen if he gets an extension here.
Outside of the DP trio, there one more guy that I think is likely done here in Dallas and that is defender Reto Ziegler. While I don’t believe his playing days are up, I do think his time in Dallas is (he’ll head back to Europe where I think he’ll end his career). He’ll be 35 going into next season and his age and speed are definitely catching up to him in the worst possible way. He’s also not super cheap too (in 2019 when saleries were last reported, he made close to $900k). Dallas could do themselves some good by replacing him with someone younger and quicker.
Other question marks I have on the roster fall to guys like Michael Barrios (getting older and not cheaper) and Bressan (good down the stretch but is he your every day starter with Matt Hedges?). Both will likely see their contracts get extended into 2021 but FCD would do wise to get them lowered to a reasonable level for the salary cap.
Which young players need a change of location altogether?
I mentioned Roberts as a possible player to keep an eye on exiting this winter. After a couple of years here and with North Texas SC, my gut tells me he really needs a new location. While I think he’s still got some skills to be something special, it just doesn’t appear to be happening here unfortunately. FC Dallas would do wise to find him a new spot and try to recoup some salary there.
Francis Atuahene is possibly one guy you can almost bank on being on his way out. His Generation adidas deal is up after this season and he doesn’t appear to be in Luchi Gonzalez’s plans at all.
Phelipe hasn’t been here long but he does fall under the young player bucket in my mind. He got one game thanks to an injury to Jimmy Maurer late the season but it will all come down to whether or not the club has a good purchase option on his loan (it was reported at $2.5 million) or whether or not they think they can sell him quickly next year after the Olympics. But ya gotta play him next year if you do re-sign him.
Is everyone else a lock for 2021?
In a way, yes. If they weren’t mentioned above outright, it likely means they’re either under contract already for 2021 or they’ll have an option picked up when the time comes.
I do think Maurer has earned himself a new deal. As much as the club would like to test the waters with Phelipe in 2021, they have a sure thing in goal with Maurer. Also, he’s proven himself to be a leader on and off the field this year and does a good job as the team’s MLSPA rep. Those are hard intangibles to replace.
Ema Twumasi is also coming out of his original Generation adidas deal with the team. He earned a ton of praise from Luchi down the stretch and plenty of playing time too. If they can get him at a cheap-ish deal, he’ll be a solid depth piece for 2021.
Who from North Texas SC has earned a shot?
FCD’s USL-1 side recently made their end-of-year roster moves (here is a solid breakdown of that) and right now they have as many questions as their parent club does.
But who can actually make the leap to MLS in 2021? Justin Che got a deal late in 2020 and will be pushing for a spot next year while probably still splitting time with NTSC. Is Brecc Evans ready to make the leap to a MLS roster? What about signing Arturo Rodriguez or Ronaldo Damus? Both have looked good at the USL-1 level but was it enough to catch the attention of Luchi’s coaching staff?