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Questions facing FC Dallas going into preseason camp

There are still some lingering questions facing FC Dallas as preseason camp gets ready to open up.

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

The countdown to the preseason is getting closer to zero. FC Dallas players will begin reporting on Wednesday for their physicals and other preseason camp items before they hit the field later this week.

As we turn a corner on the offseason and head into the preseason, some questions still have to be answered for FC Dallas. I see four needing answers as preseason play kicks off this week.

Is the roster set?

The short answer is no, but at this point, I wouldn’t imagine we’ll get any big additions to this roster until the summer.

There are still holes in the defensive depth that need to be finalized in the coming weeks. I don’t foresee a starter at center back being added unless some dominos fall in the right places. If anything, we’re looking at a younger depth piece alongside what is already there.

Outside of the defensive depth, the roster does appear to be two-deep at most positions, except for maybe LW behind Alan Velasco. Sure, Jader Obrian can be slotted in there but a lengthy injury to Velasco means more Obrian, which isn’t the best. It does seem like the club is high enough on Bernard Kamungo to be a depth piece behind Paul Arriola.

The club went very young this winter with their signings by adding two Homegrown players and one more from North Texas SC. Toss in the three SuperDraft picks that will have to contend for roster spots this preseason, and that is about it.

After such a strong 2022 campaign, it felt a tad weird seeing the club not add any big signings, but on the flip side of that, they’re telling us that they are happy with the roster that got them third-best in the Western Conference.

Can the defense improve without Matt Hedges?

Yes, his salary would be very high had they retained him. Yes, he’s getting older, and injuries could be more of a thing for him. But, all in all, not retaining him is a huge risk going into 2023.

It doesn’t take long to compare the injury season of 2021 and the healthy season of 2022 for Matt Hedges to see that FC Dallas is far better with him than without him. We all knew the day would come that Hedges wouldn’t be in a Dallas uniform, I believe most of us thought it would be due to retirement instead of free agency.

So far, the club has tried to add some depth in the back with the free agent signing of Sebastian Ibegha and U22 signing of Geovane Jesus. Toss in the potential second-year boost of Generation adidas player Isaiah Parker, and there is reason to think that the group could improve. They got younger, and faster and added an MLS Cup-winning center-back.

Is it going to be enough? Doubt fun, but it is a decent start.

Will Franco Jara be with them?

For the last month or so, the rumors out of South America indicate that Franco Jara already has his next move lined up. The question remains, will it come in January or June?

Obviously, FC Dallas fans would love to see this resolved sooner rather than later. Even a ‘mutually agree to part ways’ kind of move would be fine for all involved. For starters, it opens up a Designated Player slot that the club can use to improve the roster. It adds back an international roster slot, which goes hand-in-hand with that open DP slot these days.

Then there is the salary clearance involved here with a move like this. We all know that Jara makes $3 million a year with FC Dallas. While DP slots only account for close to $700k of that against the salary cap, the club could do much better with that kind of money on a player that contributes more on the field than Jara has in his time with the club.

Which position battles are key?

This could be its own post, but for sake of timing, I’ll keep it brief on three that I am watching out for this winter:

Ibeagha vs Tafari: This should be the main battle of the preseason. The winner will ultimately become the main starter next to Jose Martinez in 2023.

Pomykal vs Servania: Paxton Pomykal proved he could be healthy enough to be an every-game starter in 2022. We thought Brandon Servania would make a similar leap in 2022 but he didn’t find a way to see the field as much once Sebastian Lletget came on board. I could see these two jocky for that other center midfield role next to Lleget this spring.

Cerrillo vs Quignon: For the third straight season, we’ll see these two battle it out for the starting defensive midfielder role. I’d imagine they’ll continue to split time again this season.