With the news across the Twitter-sphere and our own site about the scintillating number of Ricardo Pepi moving to FC Augsburg for $20 million, FC Dallas fans have been torn between excitement and resignation.
Excitement, for sure, because $20 million bucks could go a long way to modernize this team and welcome a bevvy of talented additions.
Resignation, albeit, for some fans not trusting this front office to spend these funds appropriately and wisely to build this franchise into a true contender.
Whether you trust Dan Hunt and company or not, the next few months will open a window into the future of FC Dallas a developer of world class talent. The transfers of Reggie Cannon and Bryan Reynolds were simply the appetizer to the main course, and who knows who else might be next to go?
Here are a few ideas for FC Dallas to spend the cash.
1. Cut Franco Jara and eat his salary.
Hey, this isn’t likely, but FC Dallas could do worse than to say goodbye to the Jara era. Has Franco Jara been the absolute worst bust in FC Dallas history? Of course not. He has scored the occasional goal. He’s been a good teammate and a professional. His $3 million price tag has hurt though, when other players who produce more have deserved more. This could be an offseason to simply cut dead weight like Jara and, heck, even a guy like Jose Martinez if you feel like it’s time to get younger and give other players a chance to form that core spine of the team going forward. Granted, I don’t think this is likely, as even a veteran like Jara might serve some worth to a young team, but $3 mil for a guy off the bench is not good soccer roster building in MLS.
2. Invest in shade for the whole stadium.
This would be an extravagant way to spend a portion of the cash, but on the other hand, if there is one way to improve fan attendance and engagement, it’s making the entire experience of coming to Frisco better. With $20 million in cash at your disposal, there’s also room to add shading in the parking lots to serve supporter’s groups and their tailgating fun. Deploy water stations around the stadium to keep people hydrated. Upgrade the sound system or improve concessions. At the very least, bring back the soccer urinal cakes!
3. Build a young solid core of this team.
When a big transfer out happens, the thought to go out and splurge on a huge legit Designated Player is the first temptation to rush in. But just like someone getting a raise at their job doesn’t mean they should go out and buy a luxury sedan, FC Dallas would be better to think about year 2 and 3 under head coach Nico Estevez. Can they get veteran, solid core players to solidify their defense, deepen their squad, and start forming the core of a team that can compete for championships? Think a solid midfielder who won’t break the bank. Think of a proven winger who won’t threaten DP level salary considerations. Think of a defender who can legitimately upgrade one of your positions - like left or right back - and start there for three years. FC Dallas may overpay a little in the short term for such talent, but these players are plentiful out there and will leave a lot of that $20 million in the bank. Add them to our talented core of youngsters like Cerrillo, Servania, Pomykal, Tafari, and Ferreira, and you have the makings of a team who can go far.
4. Identify foreign talent who fill holes in your youth pipeline.
Think strategically about those youngsters coming up into your system. Where do you need talent the most? Where do your youth prospects offer less upside? Take a flyer on a promising young talent, someone in the vein of Phelipe Megiolaro, but in a position of need. With the core positions starting to build up, taking flyers on a promising talent makes a lot of sense. Signings like Phelipe and Freddy Vargas are fine when you have a core of a team already in place, but when you hope a youngster like them can end up serving as a vital cog, the results are less than inspiring.
5. Take a flyer on a former North Texas guy.
North Texas has a track record of introducing youngsters into the FC Dallas way. Some of those guys weren’t good enough for the senior team, which is why they continued on their way into other leagues. FC Dallas will have plenty of cash to bring in one of those guys as a veteran but exciting depth piece. Basically, I’m still hoping a guy like Ronaldo Damus gets a look. Alternately, could Dallas bring Alejandro Zendejas back to his home club to be that playmaker they had and let go?
6. Down payment on a new stadium somewhere else.
Want to excite the fans? Use a chunk of change to hire an exploratory team to look for new long term stadium locations. This gives you leverage to renegotiate a deal with the city of Frisco but it also gets fans excited about Dallas building a new stadium where the American Airlines center is or in a new and updated Cotton Bowl in Fair Park. Or heck, could Choctaw Stadium get some more upgrades and become the premiere soccer facility in all of Texas? You aren’t building a new stadium for $20 million, but hiring a firm to start the leg work could be an investment on the future of your franchise.