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What FC Dallas should do with their 2021 roster

We’ve had a couple of discussions already on the roster but let’s go player-by-player here figure this out.

MLS: FC Dallas at San Jose Earthquakes Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Last week we dove into some roster discussions on moves we’d like FC Dallas to do and a deep dive into how many possible moves could be on the horizon this winter for the club.

Thankfully in the case of most players, we know a pretty good deal about where their contracts stand with the club at the moment. FC Dallas has done a pretty good job over the last couple of seasons with releasing information on lengths of contracts and how many options they have on certain players.

In some cases, however, we’re totally guessing as to where things actually stand. For instance, both Designated Player deals are pretty cloudy at best in terms of details. That is pretty much on par for how MLS and teams announce DP deals.

So today, I’m going to go player-by-player on the roster and give my thoughts as to how I see things going down for them in the coming weeks.

Note: Players are listed in alphabetical order. Contracts are only discussed if that information has been made public.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan Acosta (DP, international) - Acosta’s current contract should be up. If it is, I think you see the club move on to open up the international roster slot and more importantly, the Designated Player slot. If his contract isn’t up, I think you see the club attempt to pay down the salary charge a bit and make him a TAM-level player to free up that DP slot. Either way with him, it is all about freeing up that DP slot.

Final verdict: Move on, open DP and international slot

MLS: FC Dallas at Sporting Kansas City Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Bressan (international) - The club has two more option years left on the veteran defender. I thought at times he showed well for the team in 2021 but he is still a pretty big liability both on and off the ball. He’s an expensive player too at over $500k, so the club either needs to go all-in on him this winter or move on while they can. My gut tells me they decline his option and open up an international roster slot in the process.

Final verdict: Move on and open up an international slot (edit: correcting this as it was pointed out in the comments below that Bressan received his green card earlier this year, so moving on from him only opens up a roster slot)

MLS: FC Dallas at San Jose Earthquakes Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Edwin Cerrillo (HGP) - Cerrillo is one of those HGPs that feels undervalued a bit. He’ll need a new contract here as I believe his current deal is up after this season. He got loads of playing time this season to justify a new deal. I do wonder though if he is going to go down the route of a Victor Ulloa and be traded at some point or if he is going to find a way to be one of those guys that end up staying here for a long, long time.

Final verdict: Retain and sign a new deal

Justin Che (HGP) - Che is the first of three HGPs that I believe we will be keeping a very close eye on this winter as to whether or not he’ll be sold. I’d love to have him back for another season though to see if he can become a consistent starter here.

Final verdict: Transfer overseas, collect that cash

Kalil ElMedkhar (HGP) - This kid is still a very intriguing prospect for me. He did well at times this year with NTSC and that earned him some first team minutes. He is a player that the contract status is a bit murky but the club has him on a deal through 2022 and three options after that.

Final verdict: Retain for 2022

Jesus Ferreira (HGP) - Ferreira had himself quite the season in 2021 and thankfully he is under contract at least through 2023. The bigger question really may be as to whether or not his recent national team experience is going to lend itself to a transfer this winter.

Final verdict: Make him your biggest asset for 2022

Caiser Gomes (international, loan from NTSC) - I know a lot of folks would like to see FCD take a gamble here and trigger a purchase on his loan (he’s technically on loan to NTSC here). A lot may come down to how the whole MLS Reserve League shakes up this winter and where NTSC fits in there, but I do think he is an intriguing idea with the potential international roster slots opening up (see below).

Final verdict: Figure out a way to purchase

Matt Hedges - We’ve discussed a lot already that 2021 was not great for the club legend. He’s under contract through 2022 at the moment, so we know he’ll be back next year. Let’s hope he can get his hip back to 100% so we see more of the old Hedges out there.

Final verdict: Pray the legend comes back 100%

Nicky Hernandez - The 2021 SuperDraft pick spent pretty much the entire season with North Texas SC. Given how rookie contracts are usually set up, I would imagine the team will trigger his option for next season and try to find a way to get him some first team minutes in 2022.

Final verdict: Retain for 2022

Ryan Hollingshead - Thanks to the MLSPA, he does have one more option left on his current contract. I would assume the club will trigger that deal. If not, he will go into free agency. That seems like a worst-case scenario to me.

Final verdict: Pick up that option

MLS: Los Angeles FC at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Franco Jara (DP, international) - I know we would all love to see FCD buy out his contract and move on from him this winter. I do believe a lot of that will come down to who the new manager will be, who the club could potentially come in to replace him and Pepi, and if he wants to go. Loads of questions there, I would mentally prepare for him to play another season in Dallas though. The best-case scenario is that the club is able to convert him to a TAM player instead of a DP. That would be ideal.

Final verdict: He’ll be back, let’s pray at a cheap rate

Jose Martinez (international) - Year one did not go great for the veteran center back. Weird injuries that kept him out for long stretches were not a great return on investment. He’s under contract through 2023, and I would imagine the club will want to do as much as they can to get him back to 100% for next season.

Final verdict: Pray he’ll be back at 100%

Jimmy Maurer - The veteran is under contract through 2023 thanks to a new deal he signed earlier this year. He seems happy here and as a locker room leader, I don’t see any reason to let him go this offseason.

Final verdict: We’ll see him in 2022

MLS: Los Angeles FC at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Phelipe (international) - An international that is here on loan. We’ve discussed him a few times in the past that we don’t see him returning in 2022. The purchase to buy is still likely too high (last I recall was still over a $1 million) for him. I don’t believe you spend a $1 million on a keeper in MLS, especially not one that had the chance to show you his worth in 2021 and kind of failed to do so. Move on, get that international roster slot back.

Final verdict: So long, farewell, open up that international spot

Eddie Munjoma (HGP) - The club has three more years of options on Eddie and I would imagine they’ll trigger the option for 2022 here.

Final verdict: Retain for 2022

MLS: FC Dallas at Colorado Rapids C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Nelson (Generation adidas) - This one is a tough one, I believe his GA deal will run out (no official word but just based on how those deals historically go, he’s likely reached the end of that deal due to playing time and age). His injury issues that piled up are tough to ignore and I believe the club will do right by him like they’ve done with most players over the years and hope that he can come back to 100%.

Final verdict: Retain, re-sign and pray for better health in 2022

Jader Obrian (international) - He is under contract at least through 2023, which isn’t the worst thing given how he finally figured things out towards the end of the season. I think a full preseason again with the club will only help matters out for him in year two. I don’t think he’ll be like Nashville’s Hanny Mukhtar in year two but if he can be more consistent next season with his play, I think it will all work out for the best here.

Final verdict: He’ll be back in 2022

Ricardo Pepi (HGP) - As much as we would enjoy having him stay here for another year, the young starlet is likely to move on this winter with a big transfer. All we can hope for is a massively large transfer fee to come in here.

Final verdict: Cross your fingers and toes that he can secure the largest transfer deal in MLS history

Paxton Pomykal (HGP) - He was finally healthy in 2021. Now it will be about taking his game to the next level like what we saw out of Ferreira this year.

Final verdict: He’ll be back in 2022

Facundo Quignon (international) - The veteran is under contract at least through 2022. I know some would prefer to move on from him but it won’t be that easy. Truthfully, he is the kind of veteran you want in the midfield to help mold some younger talent. I see that role for him next year while earning minutes again.

Final verdict: He’ll be back next year

Beni Redzic (HGP) - A lot of us were excited when he got signed but injuries derailed his chances of seeing the field. I think the club will give him a chance to come back healthy in 2022 and try to find his way out on the field.

Final verdict: Pick up that option and hope for better health in 2022

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Andres Ricarute (international) - His current loan ends at the end of the year and while there is an option to purchase, I don’t see FC Dallas hitting the ‘buy now’ button. There were reports recently that he had a clause in his contract that would trigger that purchase if he reached a number of starts, which he ended up being one shy of here. The guy is a talent but you have to build around him for things to work out. FCD didn’t appear to want to do that for him in 2021, so there is no reason to think they’ll try for 2022. Plus, declining that option opens up another international slot.

Final verdict: Decline option and open up that international slot

Thomas Roberts (HGP, loaned out) - The young midfielder is loaned out through the middle of next year. He’s struggled for minutes in Europe and in Dallas, so I wonder if this time next year we’ll be discussing that it may be time to move on from him altogether.

Final verdict: Pray he starts to get consistent minutes overseas

Szabolcs Schon (international, U22) - The club’s first stab at the new U22 Initiative was pretty good here with the Hungarian Cowboy. He’s at least locked up through next season, possibly through 2023.

Final verdict: Giddy-up, he’ll be back

Dante Sealy (HGP, loaned out) - This one is possibly one of the easiest ones to sort out for 2022, he’s loaned out through all of next year in Holland. The goal here is likely to hope that he can be sold at some point before the loan ends.

Final verdict: Pray a purchase comes in at a big transfer cost

Brandon Servania (HGP) - His current contract is up at the end of the year and I have to think the club is going to take a good look at what they’ll do with him. My gut tells me he is retained for another couple of seasons though.

Final verdict: Retain and re-sign

Colin Smith (HGP) - The HGP didn’t see any of the field with FC Dallas in 2021, and for good reason since he was loaned down to North Texas SC. Given the number of option years on his contract, I see him back with NTSC for part of next year and possibly some with FCD in 2022.

Final verdict: Pick up his option and see him in 2022

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Nkosi Tafari - His rookie contract is coming to an end here and after the breakout season he had in 2021, it makes perfect sense for the club to find a way to retain him. They’ll want to be sure to figure out a way to do so with another expansion draft on the horizon. He’s not a big name around MLS yet but I could see a club like Charlotte go for a young player like Tafari if he is left exposed (something we’ll discuss in the coming weeks).

Final verdict: Retain and re-sign for 2022

Ema Twumasi (Generation adidas) - The GA contract is coming to an end after the number of games he had in 2021. FC Dallas will need to take a good look at figuring out a deal that makes sense to retain him but I do feel like he should be a priority this winter.

Final verdict: Retain and re-sign for 2022

MLS: FC Dallas at Houston Dynamo Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Freddy Vargas (international) - We all got a bit too hyped up about Vargas’ potential in preseason, something I touched on last week, but with the loan ending at the end of the year I think it is safe to say we won’t see him return in 2021. He spent more time with North Texas SC than he did with FC Dallas, which isn’t a great sign. Regaining an international slot will be important this winter for Zanotta and company, so hopefully, they can fill this slot with someone who produces more in 2022.

Final verdict: Decline option and open up that international slot

Kyle Zobeck - According to the MLSPA, FCD’s long-term backup keeper is set to become a free agent this winter. While he’s had a good run here, I think it is safe to say we will probably not see him return to Dallas given the potential quality backups coming out of North Texas SC and from the academy (I fully expect an HGP keeper signed this winter).

Final verdict: Opt not to re-sign and wish him the best in free agency

Final thoughts

From the looks of things, we could see FC Dallas open up four to five international roster slots and hopefully at least one DP spot. That will help matters out a ton this winter to have two DP slots and a U-22 spot to work with. I’m seeing upwards of ten potential roster spots opening up at some point this season, maybe more, maybe less but somewhere in that ballpark.

What do you all think? Are any players worth keeping that I think will depart? Let us know below.