FRISCO - The base for FC Dallas’ 2018 roster is set.
On Monday, the club exercised contract options for six players, while declining options on 10 players and letting one contract expire. Defender Maynor Figueroa and Homegrown midfielder Coy Craft had their options declined, but are both in contract negotiations with the club for 2018.
There has been sizable movement on the roster with a third of the players from 2017 now out of contract. The roster currently has 20 players under contract.
Given Monday’s moves, here’s a rough look at the roster as it stands heading into December:
Granted, there still could be movement this offseason with the players currently under contract. Team president Dan Hunt mentioned two weeks ago in an episode of FC Dallas Live that several teams have come calling with offers for current FCD players. Not to mention an upcoming expansion draft as newcomer LAFC enters the league in 2018. Those questions will be answered in the coming weeks and months.
Up front, not a whole lot has changed with Maxi Urruti, Cristian Colman, Mauro Diaz, Michael Barrios, Roland Lamah and Tesho Akindele all returning, but expect some battles to shape up during the preseason with fresh, young blood in the form of Jesus Ferreira, Paxton Pomykal, Bryan Reynolds and Adonijah Reid vying for spots. Should the club and Craft come to terms, add another name to the list of depth pushing for time.
In the defensive midfield, Carlos Gruezo and Kellyn Acosta figure to be the go-to pairing for a third straight season, with the all-valuable Victor Ulloa and promising youngster Jacori Hayes waiting in the wings.
On the back end, however, you can see Dallas will need to do some serious work to fill out the roster. Gone are veteran Atiba Harris and 2017 All-Star Hernan Grana, along with Homegrown Aaron Guillen and SuperDraft pick Walker Hume. Ryan Hollingshead finished the season as the starter on the left, but we’ll have to see what Anibal Chala brings back from his loan stint in Ecuador. Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman are the only two bona fide central defenders on the roster, as is Reggie Cannon at right back. The club declining an option on Grana points to a belief that Cannon is ready for the starting role.
Then in goal, Jesse Gonzalez is the only player under contract at the moment. Veteran Chris Seitz’s contract has expired and late-season signing Eduardo “Pollo” Cortes’ option was declined.
What to Expect This Offseason
First and foremost, Dallas will need to sign several defenders and at least one, likely two new goalkeepers (Carlos Avilez who is currently on a USL contract could be an option for either opening in goal). You can find a good defender or goalkeeper prospect in the draft, but with almost zero depth at the moment, Dallas would possibly have to move up to a high first-round pick in order to find one who is MLS-ready. There are also several options from the FC Dallas Academy who are in the college ranks right now or finishing their collegiate careers as well.
Secondly, the club will need to look for a secondary creative midfielder to add some depth behind Mauro Diaz. Whether this is through a new addition or finding a current player (possibly Paxton Pomykal or Adonijah Reid) who can fill that role as well, we'll have to see. We know Oscar Pareja found success with a 4-4-2 look in the absence of Diaz last season, but you have to have options in either look should the Magician need time off next season.
Lastly, the re-commitment to youth has been a bubbling storyline heading into 2018 for Dallas and looking at the players under contract as of today, not a single player is in his 30s (Roland Lamah turns 30 on Dec. 31 and Maynor Figueroa, who could return for 2018, would be the oldest player at 34 years old). For a team that boasted the youngest MLS roster entering 2017, the trend appears to be going even younger heading into the new year. We'll have to see how that impacts offseason signings across the board in Frisco.