It is crazy to think that we’ve been without soccer for nearly four months. FC Dallas is in Orlando right now getting prepared for the big MLS is Back tournament. Since we last really discussed a game back in March, it feels like we’ve been gone for nearly a full season now. So let’s dive into who is here, what has happened already and what is to come.
So about that roster..
Before we get too far, let’s look at who came in this past offseason and who departed.
First, let’s look at the who departed portion since it is a tad shorter and easier to dive into. FC Dallas didn’t completely shred their roster like we’ve seen in years past. Instead, they got rid of a few expensive pieces (Dominque Badji - trade with Nashville SC, Edwin Gyasi - didn’t renew loan, Pablo Aranguiz - loaned to Universidad de Chile, and Cristian Colman - option wasn’t picked up) and got rid of some other pieces of the roster that either weren’t going to get playing time in 2020 (Moises Hernandez, Eric Alexander) or were in a loaded position (Jacori Hayes - traded to Minnesota).
As for who has come in since the beginning of the year, that list is pretty similar in size to the who departed one above.
Of course Dallas went the Homegrown route for a few additions. We saw Tanner Tessmann spur a chance to kick a lemon-shaped ball at Clemson University for a HGP deal. SMU’s Eddie Munjoma also signed before the start of the season. Add in the recent signing of keeper Carlos Avilez as well. FCD made one trade (Fafa Picault with Philadelphia), one decently large transfer (Thiago Santos from Palmeiras), one big Designated Player signing that just happened (Franco Jara), and one SuperDraft pick (Nkosi Burgess).
What happened way back in March?
Two games, both at home. Luchi Gonzalez’s side got off to a pretty decent start to the season with a win and a draw at home. Zdenek Ondrasek scored two goals in the first two games, continuing his hot streak that ended 2019 that helped him earn a call up from the Czech national team. Paxton Pomykal came off the bench in the first game of the season to score a goal as well in the 2-0 win over Philadelphia. And fellow Homegrown forward Ricardo Pepi scored his first MLS goal in a 2-2 come from behind draw against Montreal.
Anything else to note?
Some players tested positive for coronavirus. We know of at least one positive test for the club and there may be more. MLS is expected to report their number of cases every other day during this period, but we may not know specifically which clubs have how many cases. Big D Soccer has asked FC Dallas where their numbers stand at this moment, but as of this writing they have no comment.
Some that were loaned to USL-C clubs are in Orlando. You may remember Callum Montgomery getting a loan to San Antonio. He is currently in Orlando with FC Dallas ahead of the tournament. His loan was fluid, meaning he could be recalled at any time. He stayed in Frisco during this suspension, so it appears FC Dallas has opted to use the additional roster spots available to them in this tournament to have an extra defender with them.
Biggest Questions left to answer
Will we see a new formation to fit both Jara and Kobra? Given the quick turnaround for everyone in this tournament, and the rust factor for all the players involved, you kind of have to assume we’ll see Jara a lot more early on in this than we would have had the season been played as expected here. Jara had come out in interviews to say that he knows he has to work his way into the lineup over Ondrasek but can the two co-exists in the same lineup? You have to think we’ll see at least one look during this tournament that has both players starting.
Does having such a young roster give FCD any advantage in a tournament like this? In a weird way, you kind of have to think it does. FCD is the youngest team in MLS at the moment and with so many of these players only a couple of years removed from Academy play like in the GA Cup or Dallas Cup, where they are playing a number of games over a shortened period, that kind of experience could actually factor in well for FCD.