Earlier this morning, NTSC announced its player retention decisions for the offseason, the details of which you can read about here.
Following the moves, NTSC has only seven players under contract. The resulting depth chart looks something like this:
A few thoughts:
1. NTSC will absolutely be adding more players to its roster this offseason. One of the lessons of the inaugural season was to be a little more forward thinking about roster management to avoid a situation like June 22 in Madison, where FC Dallas had a home game against Toronto FC and the Academy was busy with the DA playoffs. In that game, NTSC started an assistant coach in central midfield and had only 3 subs on the bench, including the goalkeeper. Expect the team to secure a devoted roster of sufficient size to avoid that kind of a problem in 2020.
2. The two most controversial cuts announced were the two loanees: Richard Danso and Alfusainey Jatta. All the others were either placeholder players or Bicou Bissainthe, who played for Haiti in the Gold Cup but could not find the field for NTSC in 2019.
3. Jatta started the season strong in the defensive midfielder role in NTSC’s middle three. Over the course of the season however, Edwin Cerrillo’s move down to NTSC and Imanol Almaguer’s growth as a dynamic enforcer in the middle of the park made Jatta a fringe player for the playoff run. With Almaguer secured for 2020, Cerrillo unlikely to displace Bryan Acosta as FCD’s 6, and Diego Letayf anchoring a strong U19 side and deserving of USL1 minutes, I have no problem letting Jatta’s loan end without a purchase.
4. Danso is a harder circle to square. There was a period late in the season where he looked like a fledgling Douglas Costa with the added bonus of being terrifying in the high press. He was the most electrifying player in the league. He fell out of the lineup for the playoff run, ostensibly because of injury, but despite that secondhand quotes from Eric Quill describing how impressed he was with Danso were common in NTSC broadcasts. If Arturo Rodriguez signs with FCD, NTSC will be perilously thin on the wings, and, besides Dante Sealy, there may be no wingers in the academy with Homegrown potential above the U15 level (there are some fringier prospects, but no real slam-dunks). I have to hope this is a situation where NTSC declined the option to buy in order to negotiate a lower price. Unless the price being asked is absurd, Danso is too talented and fill too much of a need for the organization to let him go.
5. Looking at the above depth chart, NTSC could use talent at pretty much any position, especially if Rodriguez and Damus move up to the first team. We’ve already seen some trialing of external players since the season ended. From the Academy, players like Jonathan Gomez, Kevin Bonilla, and Gibran Rayo signed to NTSC on a full-time basis. Tanner Tessmann could go pro as well (he’s good enough and he fills a need), but my guess is he wants to do college. From the college ranks, Eddie Munjoma has been killing it for SMU as an attacking fullback. He’s older than the typical NTSC player at a positively geriatric 21-years-old, but the senior would be a solid add to the team.