Following two playoff trips under Luchi Gonzalez, FC Dallas was expected to continue their gradual ascent upwards in 2021. We all thought going into the season that this team could improve on their 7th place finish from a year ago and at least be in the top four of the Western Conference.
But as we all know, that wasn’t the case. Gonzalez was let go with eight games to go and the wheels that were already dangling off the wagon found their way to the ground.
It wasn’t all bad in 2021, as young players like Ricardo Pepi, Jesus Ferreria, Nkosi Tafari, and Ema Twumasi all emerged as solid and reliable players for the club. As we head into a longer offseason here, there are some key questions that will need to be answered early on.
Who will become the next coach?
I think it may be safe to say that this could be a major turning point for the club as a whole. We’ve discussed a bunch on here about it was poor timing on the FCD front office to part ways with Gonzalez when they did this year to go to interim manager Marco Ferruzzi. But how the club approaches this coaching search will say a lot about where they see themselves going in the next three to five years. And I’m not talking about the PR-speak mumbo-jumbo that they’ll likely throw out there at a press conference or in a press release about their hire either.
I do believe a lot of fans, especially those that are kind of on the fence at the moment about this club, are waiting to see exactly how this search goes. Is it going to be another in-house move with Ferruzzi? Is it going to be someone else that Andrea Zanotta has picked? Could it be a bigger splash than we even want to give the club credit for? Yeah, a lot of questions within one main question, I get it.
Look, I like Ferruzzi. I do. I’ve always been a fan of his as a person and even as a coach. He’s now had the interim gig three times and I think the sample size is good enough now for the club to really make a decision with him. If you go that route, there isn’t going to be a ton of excitement but you know exactly what you are going to get with him. For some folks, that may be enough.
For this club to stay on the path that we’ve seen them be on these last few years, even as far back as the Oscar Pareja days, we know they need to get someone who is comfortable with giving younger players the minutes they need to develop and improve, while also mixing in the right veteran guys to lead the team over the course of a long season. Could Ferruzzi be that guy? Possibly. My gut tells me they go with what is familiar to them instead of taking a risk.
Does Ricardo Pepi stay or go?
That proper question may actually be ‘when does Pepi go’? I think we all can see that he is going and it really comes down to when and where at this point. There are so many clubs that are ‘reportedly’ eyeing him for a winter move. While no official offer has been sent in according to our sources, there are a couple of clubs that do appear to be in deeper talks than others.
We know Dan Hunt wants to try to keep him through the 2022 World Cup, but given some of the teams that could be involved in this transfer deal, he’ll have a tough time saying no if the transfer fee goes above $15 million.
Either way, the time is now for the club to cash in on what has become their Homegrown talent. Being able to point to younger kids in the pipeline that could be in Pepi’s shoes one day and say that he went from the academy to North Texas SC, to the first team, to the national team to whenever he lands is a huge selling point. Even bigger than they’ve had with past transfers like Chris Ricards, Reggie Cannon, or Bryan Reynolds.
Sell now, get as much as you possibly can, and let him move on to bigger and better things.
Just how drastic of an overhaul will we see?
We have a couple of roster thought pieces coming up on this site in the coming days that will go deeper into the roster and where we see things going. I will say this though, it will likely be one of the more drastic overhauls we’ve seen with this club in some time. Typically, we see several moves each winter, sometimes as much as ten or so moves but this time around I am willing to bet it will be closer to half of the roster. Yeah, there are so many guys on options or expiring contracts, or loans ending that it makes sense to just go for a complete reboot of this squad.
Thankfully, as you’ll see, most of the players with options or those with deals that go through next year or 2023 are more core players that you want to see stick around.
Still, there may be some moves that surprise us that we’re not even thinking of at the moment. Last year we didn’t expect to see some of the trades that we did and it certainly shook things up in the locker room and on the field. I’d imagine we’ll see that again, especially with another expansion team (Charlotte) coming into the mix that is likely going to be a fairly big spender.