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Building for 2022: Can the FC Dallas midfield find success?

There is plenty of young talent in the midfield group, but a lot of work still has to happen to improve them.

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

We’re in our third portion of the FC Dallas roster today as we continue in our series that looks at the roster construction for the 2022 season. So far we’ve examined the defensive side and now we’ll move up the field a bit to look at our midfield group.

I should point out that for these purposes, I’m not including any wingers in this list as I am going off the league’s players union salary information. They tend to include wingers as forwards, so those players will be included in that section later on.

Background information

For starters, I like to point out the salary cap, which the 2021 season was at $4.9 million and will be again for the 2022 season.

MLS teams as most of you know can buy down a player’s salary with allocation, either of the general or targeted variety. Those ‘Garber Bucks’ as some like to call it help bring a player’s salary cap hit down. In recent years, FC Dallas has received some extra allocation for either earning a spot in the CCL or by not reaching the postseason. This year, they will have to be crafty in getting more through trades.

Typically each year returning players see an increase in their salary unless it has been agreed with the club that they make less, as in the club and player worked out a deal.

Current status and questions

Right now this group is Homegrown heavy. Again, I know you could make the case that guys like Jader Obiran or Szabolcs Schon should be included here but for these purposes, they’ll be lumped into the forwards group that will come out either later this week or early next week.

Is that depth really there? A lot of this will really come down to what Nico Estevez uses in terms of formation and system in 2022. For now, let’s just say that on paper it does appear that this group is pretty deep at both the #6 and #8 spots, but the question may really be if that talent is good enough on an MLS level.

Did the club make a mistake with Quignon? Given the larger price tag and sample size that saw him lose his starting position by the end of the season, it may be fair to say that he is a bust. Maybe. We always do want to see a full preseason for a guy like this and whether or not he fits Estevez’s system will be key. Given how young this group is too, his leadership will also need to shine through more in 2022.

Does a DP in this area make sense? I’ve long thought a DP #6 makes the most sense in this league as guys like Diego Chara and Carlos Gruezo have proven that you can win consistently with the right guy in that role. Like I mentioned above, I’m not sure Quignon is that guy and that leaves going with someone in that #8-type role. It was Bryan Acosta but that didn’t really pan out as we saw the club move on from him already.

Will we see the proper progression out of the HGPs? I think in some ways we saw good progression out of them all in 2021 in different ways. Pomykal for instance finally looked healthy for most of the season, even if he played out of position (please Nico, move him to the inside). Cerrillo and Servania both took steps forward down the stretch as starters. ElMedkhar and Hernandez had more moments with North Texas than with FCD but I think we can all live with that given how others like Ricardo Pepi, Tanner Tessmann and Bryan Reynolds did with NTSC. That track record works. Only Roberts and Redzic failed to really progress, one because of injuries and the other due to lack of playing time on loan.

The money

Here is what was spent in this department in 2021:

  • Edwin Cerrillo - $95,000 *
  • Kalil Elmedkhar - $63,547 *
  • Nicky Hernandez - $63,547 *
  • Paxton Pomykal - $600,000
  • Facundo Quignon - $786,000
  • Beni Redzic - $63,547 *
  • Thomas Roberts - $150,000 *^
  • Brandon Servania - $230,400

Total: $1,161,6400

Total with goalkeepers and defenders: $3,862,900

* Homegrown players don’t count against the salary cap

^ Roberts is on loan until June of 2023

Money moving forward

This area is going to be fascinating to watch. First of all, both Pomykal and Servania are on the senior roster as Homegrown players, so they do count against the salary cap while the others listed above are still safely not going to count against the salary cap in 2022.

But the big one to keep an eye on for next year is Quignon. He came into the team in June 2021 and his salary that was listed is well above the Designated Player threshold, and that wasn’t even for a full season. So either he will be paid down with a lot of allocation money or he’ll have to be listed as a DP in 2022 to help offset his salary cap hit.

Final figures and thoughts

This group is mostly young, which isn’t bad but seeing Acosta and Andres Ricaurte’s salaries both roll off this offseason, there is plenty of space for money to be spent properly here again. I’d love to see a DP-level talent added here either as a #6 or even a #10 again. To win in this league you need proper talent down the spine of your team and either of those slots makes sense but I will say a lot does depend on how Estevez does things too.

Given the salary cap restrictions, I don’t see a ton of big-spending here outside of a DP being used, or maybe even another U-22 player. The total spending above doesn’t take into account the allocation money being used to offset those various roster charges. Still, there is a lot being spent here and the production was just rather ‘meh’ in 2021 out of the group that remains.

Yes, there is talent in this area but I don’t believe if it is enough to be a winner in this league right now. If FC Dallas wants to return to the playoffs and be a true contender in 2022, this area has a lot of work to get them there. I just worry that they’re a bit hamstrung by some of the current spending.

What do you make of the current spending of this portion of the roster? What holes do you think need to be filled here to have this team be successful again? Let us know below.