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Three takes on the FC Dallas Draft Strategy

How did FC Dallas do with its MLS SuperDraft Strategy? Where do you stand?

FC Dallas/Jessica Tobias

FC Dallas took a bold approach with the Major League Soccer SuperDraft.

(Granted, some folks would love to see Super stricken from its name altogether.)

They traded with Toronto in a bizarre, MLS-only fashion for Dom Dwyer in exchange for the 3rd pick (they then paid out Dwyer’s 2022 contract). They also ended up trading their second round pick to move back into the first round for another selection.

FC Dallas were aggressive. They went for players who were both expected to go higher and expected to go lower. All in all, it’s hard to care a lot about the draft, because it’s an absolute crapshoot. Teams have found value in lower round propositions, and teams have found value in higher round picks. It’s hard to know which of these players will make the jump into MLS, and a lot of it is based on injury, formations, and team needs.

Here are a few takes on how FC Dallas did.

Take One: FC Dallas were aggressive because they need depth

The draft, at this point in Major League Soccer history, is not about starters. There may be a few who emerge, but for the most part, that era has passed. FC Dallas was bold in its picks, identifying players that they liked and let everything else fall by the wayside. To be clear, this has always been FC Dallas’ draft method. They have eschewed “mock drafts” and the accepted wisdom of sports media to pick who they like. Often, it has yielded results.

Ryan Hollingshead, for example, had a lot of red flags coming out of college. He had been injured. He also had committed to helping start a church with his brother, taking a year off from the game in the process. Dallas drafted him anyway, and it has clearly paid off.

If these picks give vital minutes to the first team over the course of the season, then ultimately, the front office did their job. Maybe these picks bid time for other decisions to be made in the summer, for head coach Nico Estevez to figure out the specific parts of the roster that needs help. Alternately, these picks may help provide needed starters for North Texas SC in the coming year who can develop and potentially become first team regulars.

So, hey, Dallas did what they needed to do. It’s a win.

Take Two: FC Dallas is struggling to fill out their roster.

You can make a negative case, that FC Dallas were aggressive in the draft because they are struggling to complete deals from abroad to strengthen the team. They need bodies to help with practice and provide depth and simply haven’t identified those guys elsewhere. This is concerning. It’s clear that teams in MLS who are succeeding are being aggressive in the international market and teams who not advancing are struggling with budget issues and the ability to entice players to their franchise.

Three first round picks is not the sign of a team that has had its profile raised with a series of incredible transfers lately, most recently Ricardo Pepi.

Could it be a sign of a front office looking for budget options?

A team with limited options ends up taking flyers on guys who may be a little bit of a stretch. (For history’s sake, this has been what many Dallas fans called a Clavijo Special, a guy on a loan deal who they hoped might pay off. Low risk, high reward.) For example, Andre Zanotta needs to recognize that spending an international spot on a draft pick out of college may not be the wisest choice. With the final pick of the first round, though, FC Dallas did just that.

It could pay off - but it probably won’t.

Should this concern fans? You be the judge. FC Dallas’ aggressive dealing in the draft opens the door questions as the Estevez era begins.

Take Three: Don’t Panic

FC Dallas ultimately spent very little on its activity in the SuperDraft.

Sure, they welcomed an aging and previously quality striker in Dom Dwyer, who some fans might have thought intriguing to keep around for depth. Instead, they welcomed him and cut him in return for a high draft pick.

They also traded back into the first round, but the costs were minimal.

All in all, FC Dallas did what any team should do - look for talent, take a chance on talent, and trust that talent will rise to the top.

Isaiah Parker was widely lauded as a top-five talent, and if he delivers, no one will care who FC Dallas missed on.

If another lower-tier talent emerges, few sports media types will remember those “other” players drafted. That’s how the draft goes.

The MLS Superdraft once again featured a technically challenged show that revealed that the sooner the league relaxes its emphasis on this moment, the sooner it might embrace the reality of where MLS is. Because the truth is, the draft is not much to get worked up about, whether your team got their guy or didn’t. No one knows. So, hey, don’t panic.

  • What do YOU think of the FC Dallas draft choices?
  • How confident are you feeling the draft selections mean for 2022 success?