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Grading 2022: How FC Dallas’ roster moves panned out

Some moves were incredibly smart, others are still a bit puzzling.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

We’re into the second week of the offseason here for FC Dallas, and while we still wait on the club to make their end-of-the-year roster moves, we thought it would be good to look back on this year’s roster moves to see how things worked.

Below is how we rate both the incoming and outgoing moves that were made for the 2022 season. This list includes moves that happened at the end of the 2021 season before head coach Nico Estevez was hired by the club. So keep that in mind.

[Note: We’re going to go in date order of when the moves were made for each incoming and outgoing.]


MLS: Los Angeles FC at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Nanu (1/10/22 - loan from FC Porto)

On paper, back in January, this move seemed smart for the club to make. A loan for an experienced fullback to help push Ema Twumasi. But as the season wore on and the MLSPA’s salary numbers came out, it turned out he was too expensive and too much of a liability on the field for the full 90 minutes to be worth it. The times it worked out for Nanu were off the bench in late-game spots where he could push from his fullback spot into the attack. That just isn’t enough for a guy that could be making close to $700k in total compensation.

Grade: D+

Dom Dwyer (1/10/22 - trade from Toronto FC & buyout)

Okay, this one doesn’t feel like it counts, but it is on the list. Each offseason, every club is given a one-time contract buyout, and FC Dallas used theirs with Dwyer through a trade that brought in another high draft pick (more on that in a second) and some allocation money. Seeing that there wasn’t anyone else on the roster that needed to fall into the buyout category going into the 2022 season, it looked like a decent bit of business for the club.

Grade: C+

Isaiah Parker (1/11/22 - Generation adidas)

The trade with Toronto for Dwyer ended up yielding a Generation adidas product in Parker. We didn’t see him make a gameday roster in 2022, as he spent his rookie season with North Texas SC instead. He appeared and started in 23 matches with the NTSC, gaining two assists along the way as well. The jury is still out as to how he will translate into an MLS player, but this was a good use of the draft pick to stash him in MLS Next Pro until he was ready to make the leap to MLS.

Grade: C

MLS: Minnesota United FC at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Maarten Paes (1/20/22 - loan from Utrecht, then purchase)

I think we all have liked having Jimmy Maurer in goal over the years here in Dallas, but it was clear going into this year that the team needed to look elsewhere to a younger and upcoming keeper from overseas. Paes earned the starting role early on and never looked to give it up to Maurer along the way. His strong start to the season helped trigger his loan purchase from Utrecht. So far, he’s been worth every penny.

Grade: A

MLS: Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Semifinals-FC Dallas at Austin FC Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Arriola (1/26/22 - trade from D.C. United)

The most expensive GAM trade in MLS was worth every penny (note: we fully expect that number to be surpassed this winter by some other trade). Arriola had a career year in 2022 with FC Dallas on the field, and he assumed a big leadership role with the club off the field.

Grade: A

Lucas Bartlett (1/28/22 - SuperDraft)

Bartlett was the club’s natural draft pick in the first round after Parker. He was a big gamble at the time of selection, given his age (25). He also failed to see the field with FC Dallas in 2022 and only saw time in half of the games with North Texas SC, where he started 13 games. While he seemed to be well-liked in the locker room, it won’t be enough in my book to see him return in 2023.

Grade: D-

MLS: Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Semifinals-FC Dallas at Austin FC Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Alan Velasco (2/1/22 - transfer from Independiente)

Along with the biggest GAM trade in league history, the club also swung for the fences with their biggest transfer in club history. I think getting him during the pandemic probably helped obtain him at a cheaper price from Independiente. On the field, we saw a player that had a special talent, the ability to take over a game and a player who truly wants to excel. Off the field, Velasco also appears to be working hard to fit in with the rest of the locker room, something you don’t always see out of these younger South Americans.

Grade: A+

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Marco Farfan (2/10/22 - trade from LAFC)

We all knew that trading a club legend like Ryan Hollingshead was going to be tough. Heck, we’re still rooting for the guy, even with LAFC. But Farfan has been a great addition on the field for this club. The club was able to go younger in the defense and find a guy that could be there for the long haul. I would love to see a little more progression in his play next season, but overall, he was a great addition in 2022.

Grade: A

MLS: FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Tsiki Ntsabeleng (2/11/22 - SuperDraft)

FC Dallas made three first round picks in this year’s SuperDraft, with their last being another late in-draft trade with NYCFC for Ntsabeleng. Of the three who were picked, it was Ntsabeleng who ended up seeing the field the most in 2022. It may have helped that Ntsabeleng was in a position of need for the club in terms of depth. What we ended up getting out of him was a young, energetic player that could cause issues for teams in the middle of the field, especially late in games if he came off the bench. I see a lot of potential growth for him in 2023.

Grade: B-

Antonio Carrera (2/21/22 - Homegrown)

Carrera was one of the few Homegrown signings going into the 2022 season. We’re starting to see those signings go into a hybrid role with NTSC too. Carrera spent his entire season with the MLS Next Pro team, making a couple of bench appearances in the summer with FC Dallas when Paes was out. He looked like the real deal at the MLS Next Pro level, and I have to wonder if a loan move is on the horizon for him in 2023 to help him grow a little more.

Grade: B

MLS: FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Joshué Quiñónez (3/3/22 - loan from Barcelona SC)

The club opted to go defensive for their second U22 signing. Honestly, for me, the jury is still out on this one. There were times that he got on the field and looked completely out of his element in MLS, and then there were times that he looked solid enough to see the club purchase his loan for the 2023 season. My gut tells me to part ways and try again for this U22 slot in 2023.

Grade: C-

Thomas Roberts (5/4/22 - Klagenfurt loan ends)

I know Roberts has technically been on the team for a few years now, but since MLS lists him as an incoming player for the season thanks to how his loan to Austria was set up, I’ll roll with that. Once again, however, he failed to make an impact with another head coach. Over the last several months, I’ve told a few folks that it may be time just to admit that he isn’t an MLS-level player. I could see him doing well in the USL-C, though, and I honestly hope he does.

Grade: D

MLS: Minnesota United FC at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Sebastian Lletget (8/3/22 - trade from New England)

The summer transfer window didn’t yield any big additions for the club, but the intra-league trade market certainly did again. I love seeing the club take chances like this on players that Estevez is super familiar with from his national team days. It appears to work out very well for all sides involved. Seeing that FC Dallas didn’t have to pay his 2022 salary was also a savvy bit of business.

Grade: A+

San Jose Earthquakes v FC Dallas Photo by Lyndsay Radnedge/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Bernard Kamungo (8/30/22 - North Texas SC)

FC Dallas loves a good success story, and Kamungo is certainly that. Having a player attend an open tryout, make that team and then get a new contract up to the first team. We didn’t get to see a ton of him on the field with FC Dallas, but his time with NTSC in 2022 was something to marvel at. I look forward to seeing what he can do with the club in 2023.

Grade: B+


[Note: We’re going to grade the outgoing moves for what they were, not just how the player did with the team on the field.]

Phelipe Megiolaro (11/30/21 - option declined)

This player was a buy low, sell high kind of thing. The pandemic certainly hurt his potential, and the delay of the Tokyo Olympics to 2021 definitely put a damper on his chances of getting noticed for a big transfer. It was good to cut ties and move on from him.

Grade: B

Bressan (11/30/21 - option declined)

Bressan was an expensive bench option in the defense, and he never seemed to fit in well off the field, either. It was good to let him go when they did.

Grade: C

Caiser Gomes (11/30/21 - option declined)

I get why FC Dallas did what they did with Gomes. They needed a late roster addition for depth reasons in the defense last year, and having a cheap option ‘on loan’ from NTSC was a natural fit. Still, he wasn’t good enough for the MLS level, and I think NTSC was wise not to retain him, either.

Grade: C

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan Acosta (11/30/21 - option declined)

I don’t miss his long-range shots ending up in the bleachers. He was a good addition at the time he was brought on, but he didn’t really fit both Luchi Gonzalez or what Estevez would require of him. His time in Colorado this season also looked like a mixed back as well, so it was wise to let him go and open up that salary cap space for someone else.

Grade: B

Freddy Vargas (11/30/21 - option declined)

Remember when he scored a goal in the preseason, and everyone went nuts about him? Yeah, those were fun days. Vargas joined a long line of players who got overhyped in the preseason and failed to deliver in games that mattered. Smart to cut ties and move on.

Grade: B

Kyle Zobeck (11/30/21 - contract expired)

A great guy to have in the locker room and fill a roster spot. But he was never going to be ‘the guy’ in goal for the team. I hear he is doing well in his post-MLS career, though.

Grade: B

Dutch Eredivisie”FC Emmen v FC Groningen” Photo by ANP via Getty Images

Ricardo Pepi (1/3/22 - transfer to Augsburg)

We hit the new year and saw the biggest outgoing transfer in club history. It truly was the dawn of a new era with this move. Any time you are offered $20 million for a player in this league, you take it. Every. Single. Time. Let’s hope he is able to get to the World Cup and have a successful trip to Qatar.

Grade: A+

MLS: Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Semifinals-FC Cincinnati at Philadelphia Union Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

John Nelson (1/6/22 - signed by Cincinnati in Re-Entry)

I was a bit bummed to see Nelson go because he was a good guy in the locker room, but injuries just got in the way of a lot of his progression as a player in Frisco. I’m glad things are working well for him in Cincinnati.

Grade: B

Justin Che (1/21/22 - loan to Hoffenheim)

I almost want to go with the “jury is still out” comment on this one, but I think it will pan out for both sides before long. Che’s loan goes through June 2023 before a purchase trigger can kick in. I know he wants to be overseas but hasn’t done well in 2022 with Hoffenheim. Though, given how this season went for FC Dallas’ defense, the loan move was the right call.

Grade: B-

MLS: Los Angeles FC at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Hollingshead (2/10/22 - traded to LAFC)

The other end of the Farfan trade was letting Hollingshead go. We still love this guy and root for him no matter where he goes. I think we also knew that he would always find a way back to California. I’m happy it worked out for both sides.

Grade: A

Nicky Hernandez (4/13/22 - loan to San Antonio FC)

As the early season got going, it was pretty clear that Hernandez was a bit out of place with the way the roster was going under Estevez. The loan to San Antonio seemed to be a good fit for both sides. Hernandez fit in well with a team pushing for a USL-C title this season. Now the question is, will he stay there on a transfer move down, or will FCD see more value in him for 2023?

Grade: A

Szabolcs Schön (8/26/22 - transfer to MOL Fehérvár FC)

The last outgoing move of the 2022 season. It was a big point of contention for some people as Schon never got going under Estevez. He was a ton of fun to watch in 2021, but 2022 was a different story. I do think getting any bit of money in return for a guy that was out of favor was a good bit of business. We do wish Schon well.

Grade: B

Big D Daily: News for Wednesday, November 30, 2022

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