FRISCO - We’re into week two of the 2017 offseason for FC Dallas and things are starting to roll forward as the club moves towards 2018.
It’s been no secret that the coming weeks and months will be busy around Toyota Stadium with likely several players coming and going, so here are five storylines to watch this offseason.
Monday marked the first of three weeks of training sessions for the club will hold before their offseason break. Some teams around the league have closed up shop with the final whistle of the year, but Dallas is looking to get a head start on 2018.
Not everyone is back on the field, as players not under contract for 2018 or ones who have not had their contract options exercised are unable to train until their futures are determined. We won’t get into specifics on who remains and who is gone, but names like Maxi Urruti, Michael Barrios, Walker Zimmerman and Kellyn Acosta, among others, were all working during the first session of the week.
The Ins and Outs
Along those lines, there are likely going to be some familiar names leaving the club and new blood coming into Frisco in their place. This is the case in any team’s offseason, but this winter is expected to be busier than usual in Frisco. By my earliest guesses, there will be at least 10 names from last year’s roster that do not return - some expected and some not. We’ll learn much more in the coming weeks.
Youth, Youth, Youth
An important storyline that will be worth tracking is a re-focusing on the youth and development of American talent from Toyota Stadium. After the U.S. Men’s National Team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, team president Dan Hunt tweeted that he is “even more committed and focused” on developing the next generation of talent.
After the result tonight, I am even more committed and focused than ever to help develop good, young American talent.— Dan Hunt (@DanHuntFCD) October 11, 2017
For a club that has already been known for the players it develops, we could be in for a doubling-down on youth. With names like Reggie Cannon, Jesus Ferreira and Paxton Pomykal seeing the field sparingly in 2017, I think heading into next season we’ll see a lot more of the youngsters on the field - both ones signed already and ones the club has been tracking either in the Academy or college ranks.
Although not as intensive as last year’s expansion, with Los Angeles FC coming online in 2018, the league is once again in line for an expansion draft, although the protected list rules and exact timing have not been released by MLS. Last season, the team was forced to leave depth names like Atiba Harris and Chris Seitz unprotected. We’ll have to wait and see how expansion 2018 shakes out.
The last two years, Dallas has selected near the bottom of the first round in the annual MLS SuperDraft. In 2017, the club felt lucky to have midfielder Jacori Hayes (largely considered a Top 10 prospect) fall to them at No. 18, but with the top, ready-now talent usually residing in the Top 5 picks, I would not be surprised to see FCD move up from its current 11th Overall selection to try and secure a top collegiate talent that is ready to make an impact right away in 2018.