The big moves for FC Dallas this winter appear to be done and in the books. Sure, maybe there is a big rumor waiting to float out there for another massive signing by the club but by all accounts, this has been a winter to remember for the team just in the last couple of weeks.
Still, what is crazy after the trade for Paul Arriola that broke a league record for allocation money involved, after Ricardo Pepi was transferred to Augsburg for a record fee, after Alan Velasco was transferred into the club on a record fee, there are still plenty of holes left to fill in this roster.
If you look today, FC Dallas still has anywhere between three and five roster slots available. The senior roster has some available slots that could be occupied by some guys on the supplemental roster right now as the club could sign some Homegrown players to fill out the rest of that portion of the roster. There is definitely a lot that could happen between now and the start of the season when the rosters need to be compliant (which is typically the day or two before the first game of the season).
So here is a look at what could be filled and some options within each:
This one is probably the most obvious move left to make in some cases. Typically you always carry three keepers due to international call-ups, injuries, or suspensions. Right now, Jimmy Maurer appears to be the main guy with Maarten Paes as his backup. But what about their other backup? Right now the club has a couple of options in camp:
Andre Rawls - For those who don’t know, Rawls is a trialist in camp with the team. He previously was signed by the Colorado Rapids before being loaned out to USL-Championship sides Colorado Springs in 2020 and then Phoenix in 2021. He did fairly well in both places but the Rapids opted not to retain him after the 2021 season. To me, he is the next version of a Kyle Zobeck if he is signed.
Antonio Carrera - The potential Homegrown player is likely to be signed by North Texas SC for their upcoming season. He could still be signed as an HGP like we all want him to be and then loaned down to NTSC for the season, or he could just sign a deal with NTSC first. We’re just waiting patiently to see if he gets that HGP tag from FCD first or not.
Alec Smir - Smir was a third round draft pick in this year’s SuperDraft. The likelihood of him winning a spot appears low today but if he is truly the only option left after preseason camp is over, it may not be the worst thing.
Center back depth
Sure, there are currently four guys that are signed as center backs. You have veterans Matt Hedges and Jose Martinez and then young guys like Nkosi Tafari and rookie Lucas Bartlett. But I think a lot of us would feel more comfortable if there was one more guy that could be thrown into the mix after the injuries we saw Hedges and Martinez pick up last season.
Free agent route - There are still a couple of options left on the free agent list that could fill in nicely as a depth piece. Look at a former Columbus defender like Saad Abdul-Salaam, former RSL defender Donny Toia, or former Toronto defender Eriq Zavaleta. All would be solid depth pieces at the right price (like a veteran minimum if possible).
Derek Waldeck - He’s currently training with the team this preseason though he’s listed as a North Texas SC player. Given that he’s been with that side for a while now, FCD could opt to bring him up to the first team and offer him a chance to be a backup with the team.
Midfielder depth (either a 6 or 8)
The midfield right now feels somewhat thin in some spots. The attacking portion appears good right now with Paxton Pomykal set to move back into the middle with newcomers like Arriola, Velasco filling in on the wings with Jader Obrian and Szabolcs Schon rotating time, Beni Redzic returning from his injury that kept him out of the 2021 season.
But it is the other side of things in the midfield that feels thin. Right now you have Brandon Servania, Edwin Cerrillo, and Facundo Quignon as your options at the #6 and #8 slots.
Free agent route - Just like with the defender slot, we could see another veteran come into the club later on as a depth piece. There are some viable names like Nick DeLeon out there that could be an interesting fit.
Blane Ferri - The North Texas midfielder showed well in 2022 and could be ready for the jump up to the first team, though it may be worth having him with the MLS NEXT side for another year to help him develop more.
Homegrown options - It may be a little early right now for an HGP area in this category though but maybe it is time to give a guy like Diego Hernandez a look. He’s a U17 that has been playing up, so maybe signing him to an HGP deal and then loaning him down to NTSC could be an option.
Right now the forward options are Jesus Ferreira and Franco Jara. In some ways you could toss rookie Isaiah Parker here (though we assume he’ll likely get moved to eventually become a fullback option), Obrian, Schon, maybe even Arriola or Velasco into this category but for pure striker discussions, Ferreira and Jara are it right now.
Anthony Ramirez - This is another academy player that is currently on the preseason roster. My gut tells me he could fall into the same category as Carrera or even just be a guy that will train for the preseason and end up with North Texas.
Tsiki Ntsabeleng - This is a likely option should his preseason go well. The rookie out of Oregon State will cost the club an international roster slot but given how the club traded up to get him in the first round, you have to think they are hoping he sticks and is worth the gamble of that draft-day move.