With as many as their top three center backs out injured at the same time last season, FC Dallas was left without a center back substitute on the bench in many games.
It’s not a mistake they’ll make again, and it’s why they decided to select veteran center back Stephen Keel in Friday’s second phase of the MLS Re-Entry Draft.
“We were really excited that he was in the draft and wasn’t picked up in the first phase,” said head coach Schellas Hyndman. “Our whole idea was to get more depth in our center back positions. We felt that this year, with the number of injuries we had to deal with, we were asking a number of players to be moving around playing [different positions] for us.”
Indeed, Dallas was just one injury from having to play a midfielder at center back last season, but with the likely addition of Keel, re-signing of George John and rumored signing of Homegrown defender London Woodberry, depth shouldn’t be an issue in 2013.
“I just feel the depth is something we were maybe going to be looking at through the collegiate level and when Stephen was available we took this opportunity to draft him,” said Hyndman.
Keel has spent the last two seasons with New York, starting 22 games including their playoff defeat of FC Dallas in 2011. The Wake Forest graduate will be reunited with a familiar face in Dallas as Technical Director Fernando Clavijo brought Keel into MLS in his time as Colorado Rapids head coach.
FC Dallas should have no problem fitting Keel into the salary cap and the 29-year-old should provide a nice challenge to starters George John and Matt Hedges.
“I know Fernando Clavijo was high on him,” Hyndman said. “He brought him in as a discovery player, he’s played a couple years at Red Bull and I think he even started against us a couple times. I thought he was a strong, aggressive no nonsense type of defender, and extremely courageous in the box winning almost every header in his direction.”