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What to do about FC Dallas’ center back situation?

Matt Hedges has an opening next to him in the starting lineup as contracts end. Who could step up?

MLS: Cup Conference Semifinals-FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas is expected to drop roster news at any moment, like in hours or days.

Two particular and crucial players could be on their way out - Bressan and Reto Ziegler.

Reto’s contract is up, and maybe due to a knock or Father Time, he faded a bit as the season wore him down. Maybe that was to be expected in this compacted run of games. Maybe though, he is on the natural decline that happens to footballers in their mid-30s. Of course, Ziegler’s career is far from over. Many defenders can continue to play at a high level even as some of their speed and agility drop off. Reto isn’t done yet. The team has enjoyed his penalty kick prowess, wicked left foot, and professional approach. He’s been a great partner with Matt.

Bressan, after being used as a sub or occasional starter in the past year or two, finally locked down a starting spot with his fresher legs and athleticism at the end of the season. His downside has always been the ability to unleash some truly sketchy challenges that blur the lines between yellow and red. On the upside, he has good energy and did more than enough to show he could be a starter in this league next to Matt Hedges. He’s a controversial player, but the question is - did he show enough down the stretch for fans to trust him as Hedges’ No. 2?

For both veteran players, their contracts present a challenge. Reto’s contract is up, and unless the team negotiates an extension, he is likely moving on, maybe to close out his career back home in Europe. The team has the option to extend Bressan another year. For both, their price tags may make those decisions a little harder. Can you get more bang from your buck by looking to a free agent or bringing up a younger body?

Here are a few options that FC Dallas might consider.

Bring Back the Veterans

It’s not out of the question that FC Dallas could negotiate with Reto Ziegler and Bressan to extend their time in Dallas.

For Reto, I think the question comes down to how comfortable he is in Frisco. Is his family settled in? Does he love it in Texas? Does he see himself finishing his career with FC Dallas and maybe even moving into some coaching? The possibilities are there, but a new contract with Ziegler likely means he would need to take a pay cut and a smaller role on gameday going forward. Could he still be a starter? Sure, but it is clear that the team will need to be prepared to rotate some guys and use Ziegler in certain spots. The key thing is that veteran backlines do have a decent track record of success in this league, especially for championship contending teams.

For Bressan, the equation has a lot more variables. The team could certainly take his contract option and pencil him for another year next to Hedges. Surely, the partnership would grow. However, Bressan is making about $500k in salary. Is he that good? Could that money be spent elsewhere, or would the Brazilian sign an extension for a little less money but some long term stability? We don’t really know if Bressan has value at this point either and could be worth hanging on to just to sell in the future. Ultimately, for FC Dallas, how much do they value him? Can you get a equivalent performer for less, and is that player already on the roster?

Luchi Gonzalez must decide if another year of a veteran like Reto or Bressan will help the team compete. Personally, I think it makes sense to bring back Bressan, even if you decide to deal him or let him get beat out of his starting job by a younger player. It’s never a bad idea to have a solid veteran defender who gives you energy and flexibility from the start or off the bench.

Go Young

Hey, I admit, we fans like it when this team goes young. With 2020 in the rearview mirror and the team competing well enough to advance in the MLS Cup Playoffs, the question is what kind of expectations will be in place for 2021. Is FC Dallas open to a little more of learning and growing year with a schedule full of international duties, including for prominent youngsters on the roster? Is 2021 a rebuilding year of sorts as they get some younger bodies and new faces in the mix?

If the team is open to that growing year, maybe you cut the veterans that you can, opening up space to bring in younger faces or promote the guys waiting for their opportunities.

FC Dallas has at least two who are close to ready - Callum Montgomery and Nkosi Burgess. While Callum was picked 4th overall back in 2019, he hasn’t made the impact or had the opportunity that his fellow draftee John Nelson has had with the first team. Callum was loaned out to start the year but brought back during the MLS Is Back tournament for cover.

Nkosi Burgess is a more recent draft pick from this past year and did manage to get some minutes with North Texas near the end of their season as a centerback, showing well and helping that improve and surge up the standings.

Both guys would slot in well next to Matt Hedges, although no doubt there would be a learning curve involved.

And both probably save you a bit of cash that could be spent on that star winger or two.

With Justin Che on the mix, FC Dallas could go into the offseason with three young players who could compete for the spot. My gut would lean to Burgess getting the nod, but it’s simply hard to say without more minutes for either of these guys.

Transfer Time

A final option is to look at trade options or strike out for a new signing altogether. Matt Hedges is in his prime, so maybe you don’t want to have a tough year with a younger player adjusting to the speed and physicality of the league. FC Dallas will have plenty of cap space and resources to ply the transfer market this winter, so it’s not impossible that they bring in a veteran stud to compete and lock down the spot. Or maybe even a young DP.

However, my gut is FC Dallas would prefer to spend more of their hard earned transfer dollars for attacking players this winter transfer. Bring in a legitimate option on the wings. Figure out how you want to navigate your midfield logjam. Is there a better striker option who can push Jara or give you more lineup options? Use your cash for those kinds of players and let the younger guys figure it out.

What do you think FC Dallas should do about Bressan and Reto’s contract situations?