The season is drawing closer and closer by the week. Can you taste it? Are you ordering your powder blue kit? Are you getting excited for the potential for this team with a mix of skilled veterans and up and coming youngsters?
I’m sure we will get to some of the big new faces like Jader Obrian and Freddy Vargas and how they might make impacts down the line. Likewise, we are anticipating great things from Paxton Pomykal, Matt Hedges, and Andres Ricaurte.
But is anyone flying under the radar and poised to do something special?
Here are a few names to consider.
The right back spot is up in the air. Reggie Cannon and Bryan Reynolds are now off to ply their trade in Europe, and as we discussed before, the tempting idea is to move Ryan Hollingshead over into this position and let John Nelson step in at left back. It’s not a bad idea, and I am certain we will see that configuration at some point over the course of the season.
But Eddie Munjoma earned the No. 2 number and is also poised to compete for big minutes at right back. The good news is that he had a strong number of appearances with North Texas Soccer Club last season. The coaches have gotten a chance to work with him. He has a good mix of experience from college and USL League One, so if anyone is primed to bring his athleticism to help this team, it’s him. I think Eddie probably rates between Reggie and Bryan as far as skill and style. He’s fast and attack minded but definitely has more experience as a pure defender than Reynolds did.
Is his ceiling as high as either of those two? It probably doesn’t matter. If he can get going and make a difference in games, expect some other European team to come sniffing around Frisco’s right back factory.
Munjoma is still an unknown, so he is flying a bit under the radar. Really, there is no guarantee he gets the starting job, but my gut is we see him sooner rather than later.
Back in the fall, Thomas joined his buddies on their video podcast and dropped a lot of hints at his frustration in Frisco. He felt like it was time to get more shots in the first team or even a loan opportunity abroad. The young attacking midfielder did get some time over at Hybernia in Scotland and apparently did fairly well, but the expected loan never materialized.
We’ve been waiting on this promising youngster to earn a role in the first team for a while. Thomas has been a mainstay for North Texas SC, but you can tell he was probably playing down a level to where he needed to be. Still, even from his limited first team minutes, you could see there was still lots of growth needed, specifically for him to find ways to impact the game. Roberts is rated so highly, so it does seem it is now or never if he is going to break through.
With Olympics and international call ups impacting the team, there is a case to be made that this could be a strong first half of the season for Roberts. Lots of players will miss minutes, opening up opportunities for guys like him. The central midfield will certainly be stocked with great veterans vying for minutes, but a creative sub off the bench gives him a role to play. I’m hoping he becomes a surprise story of 2021 for FC Dallas.
This one is a bit of a shot in the dark, but while Jimmy Maurer is no doubt the No. 1 going into the season, don’t count out a young, athletic keeper like Megiolaro making things interesting. If FC Dallas believes in this kid and his potential, then you have to figure out some minutes for him. Maybe he gets a few with North Texas SC initially, but if Maurer takes a knock or struggles, Megiolaro might get a chance to show if he can offer athleticism that will complete FC Dallas’ approach.
FC Dallas showed in the past that they could win and be comfortable with a young keeper who would have ups and downs and grow into the position. Could Phelipe be the next decent young phenom? Would this be a great season to see what he can offer with a mostly veteran back line in front of him?
Phelipe is way under the radar, but I like the chances of seeing something from him this season.
What do you think? Who else is flying under the radar and might just get an opportunity to make a name for themselves this season?