With the resurrection of the MLS Reserve League, club rosters have been expanded to 30 players -- good news for 2010 MLS Coach of the Year Schellas Hyndman, who comes into the 2011 preseason with nearly 40 players in training camp and higher expectations than ever before. Difficult decisions lie ahead for the FC Dallas technical staff, and with less than a month to impress until the league mandated roster cut-down date of March 1, there will be several players coming and going.
In this feature, I'll try to help you keep track of those comings and goings, including who's playing well and who may be hurting their chances to make the final cut. Roster Watch will be updated twice a week during preseason, so stay tuned to FCDallas.com to find out who you'll be seeing on the pitch this year.
Friday: March 18 — Opening day roster set
For a player it is impossible to compare the first game of the season to any other during the course of the year. Several weeks of preseason are finally over. Every team begins with a clean slate and believe the trophy will be raised at season’s end. But before any of that can happen, there is an evolution that a team must go through. Decisions must be made on those that will play and those that will not. For a team that went to the MLS Cup last year, FC Dallas still had spots to fill and players to test. With Opening Day upon us, this will be the final edition of Roster Watch. This is how we got here.
There have been eight draftees and six trialists in camp at one point or another, making 14 total that tried to earn an FC Dallas contract. Here is a look back at all of them.
Bobby Warshaw - made opening day roster
Charlie Campbell - released
Scott Gordon - released
Alexis Pradie - left camp to return to school
Paul Ogunyemi - released
Brayan Martinez - released
Kekoa Osorio - chose not to come to camp; finishing degree at SMU
Craig Hill - released
Kevin Gall - released
Cristian Arrieta - released
Bruno Martins - released
Maykel Galindo - released
Roberto Lopes - released
Sheldon Palmer - released
Jason Yeisley (2010 draft pick)
Opening day roster:
Andrew Jacobson - acquired from Philadelphia during preseason
Ricardo Villar - acquired from
Fabian Castillo - acquired from Deportivo Cali
Kyle Davies - injured reserve
Edson Edward- injured reserve
Chris Seitz - acquired from Philadelphia prior to preseason
Peri Marosevic - Generation adidas
Josh Lambo - Generation adidas
Andrew Weideman - Generation adidas
Bryan Leyva - Home Grown
Ruben Luna - Home Grown
Moises Hernandez - Home Grown
Victor Ulloa - Home Grown
Jonathan Top - Home Grown
Richard Sanchez - Home Grown
For those of you out there counting, that's only 29 players on the opening day roster and teams are allowed up to 30. FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman hinted after the final preseason match with Chivas USA that the team may be looking to bring on one additional player - who that player is and where he might come from remains a mystery.
To put things in perspective, that means that of 14 players who came into camp without a contract, only one made the opening day roster (Bobby Warshaw). But from the beginning of preseason there was always a belief that this roster would be very, very difficult to make. With only two roster spots available, the need for depth, versatility, affordability and standing with the team made the possibility even more difficult.
However, I get the impression the technical staff is not yet finished. This is the roster as of today, but I do not believe it will be the same by April. Stay tuned to see what happens!
Thursday: March 10
The season is almost upon us, and the FC Dallas roster picture is becoming more clear by the day. Today brings us two cuts: former Chivas USA striker Maykel Galindo and second round draft pick Charlie Campbell. Here's a look at where the club currently stands.
The FC Dallas first round draft pick has shown a level of competitiveness that sets him apart from other trialists. However, at some point the game is about much more than that. Warshaw needs to improve his composure on the ball while under pressure. That can evolve with time, and his eagerness to learn should hopefully expedite the process. It looks like he will make the team and contribute to making training sessions spirited on a daily basis.
With injuries to the heart of the Dallas defense, Gordon has received significant playing time with the starting core of FCD players. The Lynn University third round draft pick has taken full advantage of his opportunity. His preseason has not been without mistakes, but he has shown upside while learning on the fly. At 6’5” the towering center back is as good with his feet as he is in winning aerial challenges. He has proved to be a good pickup that will benefit in a professional atmosphere and reserve league play.
His best showing in preseason was against the New York Red Bull reserves on Monday, with the former Chivas USA man making a last-ditch effort to impress. But the preseason form of Milton Rodriguez, Ruben Luna and now with the arrival of Colombian U-20 National Teamer Fabian Castillo -- well, the writing is on the wall. It took over a month for Galindo to get his legs under him, but once he did he was able to show glimpses of his former self. However, forwards are always judged by one major factor -- can they cause problems for the opponent? If you can answer that question with a yes (and you can afford the player), then the decision is a no-brainer. Unfortunately, while on trial at FC Dallas that was not the case.
The early preseason hamstring injury hampered the University of Louisville product's opportunity. Campbell missed nearly a month of camp and didn’t begin to train until the team’s trip to Florida. He has quality in wide areas with speed and ability to change direction quickly. However, trying to make a competitive roster while not quite at a 100 percent simply meant it was not meant to be.
Tuesday: March 8
The Welshman arrived in Arizona with knowledge of what he needed to do -- raise eyebrows by scoring goals in training and in games. With a short trial period he needed to make an immediate impact, and getting the start with the FCD first team against the New York Red Bulls was that chance. Gall had his moment to shine, but with the insertion of Maykel Galindo in his place to begin the second half, it looks as though the decision has been made.
Patience has been a necessity as the FCD coaching staff has carefully watched Maykel Galindo build his fitness. The Cuban had his best showing since arriving for training camp against the Red Bulls, scoring a goal and notching an assist. But his new (lower) jersey number might be the best hint of all that the former Chivas USA goal-scoring ace will be the insurance policy for the FCD strike force.
It's hard not to mention the Under-20 Colombian National Teamer. With the official announcement of his signing finally coming on Monday, the Deportivo Cali alum is eager to prove he is ready for a new challenge. Many FCD fans will love his drive and initiative to create one-on-one problems for any MLS backline. Many great Colombian players have come through the club, including Leonel Alvarez, Oscar Pareja, Juan Toja and, most recently, David Ferriera. I expect the same quality out of Fabian Castillo.
Thursday: March 3
The March 1 MLS salary cap deadline has come and gone, and now, as the team
traveled to Arizona this week, there are a few new faces in camp. The story for
two of them is cut and dry. As for the draftees, they have already seen the
departures of Brayan Martinez, Paul “Bim” Ogunyemi, and Alexis Pradie from camp.
With opening day only two weeks away it’s now or never.
With a steady performance against Houston in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic Championship Game, I believe Gordon made his best case yet. Working alongside Brek Shea in the center of defense, Gordon held his own against an equally imposing figure in Dynamo striker Cam Weaver. With injuries to the heart of the Dallas defense during this preseason, Gordon is the insurance policy that will allow the club more time to get Ugo Ihemelu, George John, Zach Loyd, and Kyle Davies back in action. I feel the Florida native will have a new home in Frisco.
The former Philadelphia Union right defender was invited into camp after being waived recently. With a desire to attack, perhaps Schellas Hyndman located a defender that can create width and more competition for that position. Having been a member of an expansion team that spent most of last season on their heels, this may be an opportunity the former USL Defender of the Year is eager to hold onto.
The 29-year-old Welsh forward was at one time property of Newcastle United. Now a veteran of more than 250 league games in the English lower leagues, Gall is hungry to prove he can score goals state-side. If this is a familiar name to some of you, here is why: he is the brother of a coach from one of North Texas’ more successful high school soccer programs - Marcus High School Head Coach John Gall. With a limited time in Arizona, the Welshman will need to start red hot.
Thursday: February 24
The clock is ticking on the remaining trialists that are with FC Dallas, while meanwhile
camp has moved to Orlando, Florida for the week. With the salary cap compliance date set for March 1, it is decision time. Based on the current preseason roster
and what I have seen from the players that are in camp, it's my feeling that only two
spots remain for as many as five players. Here's who's on the bubble.
His energy and work rate have been good, but I have concern with his lack of time with first team contributors, as well as the final product in front of goal. It’s clear he is creating chances, but I have to wonder if the window of opportunity is beginning to close.
With injuries to several key central defenders in Ugo Ihemelu, George John and Zach Loyd, the 24-year-old Frenchman has received ample playing time for a trialist. With a quality soccer pedigree and a good level of comfort with the ball at his feet, Pradie would be a favorite to make the squad. One factor working against him is his international status.
Gordon is an imposing figure who struggled with his positioning in the friendly against Houston Baptist. However, he has a lot of upside. At 6’5”, the Florida native has the athleticism that Coach Hyndman prefers. I believe Gordon has odds in his favor to make the team.
The 23-year-old midfielder from the University of Louisville has shown quality during the preseason. However, an injury has forced him to the sideline for the last couple of weeks until recently. Campbell has tendencies that remind me of one of the most annoying players I ever played against -- Brian Mullan. Of course, I say 'annoying' out of respect for the problems he would cause our left side of defense. Campbell has similar attributes, with the ability to win one-on-one battles on serve in crosses. Missing training time is never good for a trialist, but Campbell has a better chance of making the team than others.
Paul “Bim” Ogunyemi
Used as a reserve in nearly every preseason game, Ogunyemi has the athleticism to get around opposing defenders. This is a quality that has not gone unnoticed. Is he a player that can help combine and maintain possession against a compact defense? The jury remains out, and they are on the clock.
Thursday: February 17
Paul “Bim” Ogunyemi
The 20-year old midfielder from Lake Orion, Michigan was selected by FC Dallas in the first round of the Supplemental Draft. After missing the first week of preseason while awaiting completion of his physical, Ogunyemi watched while other trialists began to stake their claim. At 5’9” the Schoolcraft College product has been eager to show his ability while lining up at left midfield, but with a crowded and versatile midfield, the window to seal a place on the Western Conference Champions roster is a difficult task.
Now entering his third full season with FC Dallas after he was acquired from the Colorado Rapids in August of 2008, the SMU product is entering a different phase of his career. His graduation from Generation adidas status now requires Guarda to occupy a senior roster spot, and with that comes a new level of accountability. With a good ability to cover ground and the willingness to commit to tackles, Guarda brings a different dimension in midfield. Used in reserve for most of last season, he has looked fit and hungry to contribute. Much like Eric Avila, the 2011 season may be the most important one in his career.
Tuesday: February 15
Following a disappointing result in their first preseason game, FC Dallas has had the opportunity to get outside for critical functional training. The benefit for the coaching staff is they can more easily make evaluations of the players in camp. Time is of the essence, as March 1 is quickly approaching.
The former Chivas USA forward has been on trial with FC Dallas since week one of preseason. At one time Galindo was one of the most potent strikers in MLS. However, bit by the injury bug during the last two seasons, the Cuban defector has found it difficult to regain his scoring prowess. FCD could benefit by how motivated Galindo should be. If he fails to impress, then you have to wonder if his MLS career has come to an end. Galindo could be just the right man to fill the striker void left open by the departure of Jeff Cunningham. Galindo has looked hungry to score goals, but match sharpness is lacking. His running off the ball has intent but needs more time to coordinate with teammates. A decision must be made before the team leaves for Arizona at the beginning of next month, and rest assured Galindo knows what is at stake. If the price is right, he is well worth taking a flyer.
The Brazilian central midfielder has been in training for a week now, and is starting to settle in. He is a composed, technical player that looked good in today's scrimmage connecting one possession after another against an inferior opponent. He showed good energy and the willingness to make statement challenges. If he has the ability to cover a lot of ground defensively, then he is the answer to the question that so many fans have asked since the expansion draft: who can help fill the shoes of Dax McCarty? With Eric Alexander, Ricardo Villar and Bruno Guarda all in the conversation, the competition for playing time is fierce.
The virtually unknown SuperDraft selection from Lynn University is a physically imposing center defender. With injuries to Ugo Ihemelu, George John and Zach Loyd, Gordon has received significant game time in the first two preseason matches. At 6'5", the Boca Raton, Florida product looks up to the task. At the college level a center defender can go through large portions of a game without seeing clever runs from an imposing forward. But lately Gordon has seen plenty of them, and he is eager to improve his positional play. With timely tackling and good passing ability he is making a case for himself. If Gordon doesn't make the FC Dallas roster he would probably be the last man to go.
Thursday: February 10
The central midfielder is entering his fourth season at Pizza Hut Park, and none have been more important to the talented 23-year old. Used primarily as a late game substitute, Avila was the man asked to spark an offense that was in need of another gear. His technical ability accompanied by his sublime vision will put a majority of MLS backlines on their heels. The question Avila needs to answer this year is this: can he be a 90-minute player at that same level? It’s a crowded midfield with the acquisition of Ricardo Villar, and Hyndman has the competition for playing time that he covets. Avila will need to start preseason matches and not let go of his spot. It’s now or never with the Western Conference Champions.
The first round pick from Stanford University is the most vocal of any trialist in camp. He has shown his competitiveness and proclivity to lead in every session since arriving in Frisco. At moments he has looked sharp and precise in possession, but in others his desire to make an instant impression has overridden his quality. He looks coachable, and having senior players around will benefit him in the long run. Warshaw can cover a lot of real estate in midfield and is tenacious in the tackle. He makes any training more competitive.
Selected in the first round of the Supplemental Draft out of Seton Hall, Martinez is a very technical player. He was one of the draftees who caught my eye from day one with his composure on the ball and his ability to get out of tight spaces while in possession. He played as an attacking midfielder in a 3-5-2 formation during college and is adjusting to the demands on both sides of the ball at the professional level. You can tell he has a soccer brain, but can he cover the amount of ground that is required for Schellas Hyndman’s 4-1-4-1 formation? In years past Martinez would have been a lock for making the roster.
Tuesday: February 8
With the inconvenience of indoor training behind them, FC Dallas players and coaches were finally able to move outdoors beginning on Sunday. Doing so allows more of an opportunity for coaches to evaluate their players effectively, which means time is of the essence for everyone to show their quality. Here's the latest round that are looking to stake their claim.
The FC Dallas Academy product signed a professional contract on July 30, 2010, and made his professional debut just a week later against one of the biggest teams in world football -- Inter Milan. With several months of integration into life as a professional, the Dallas native looks more promising than ever before. Lining up on the left side of defense through the first week of preseason, Hernandez has shown good positional sense in relation to his fellow defenders. His ability to defend one-on-one against top attackers needs improvement, but he seems to be adapting. Another luxury for the Home Grown product is his passing ability. FC Dallas midfielders will like receiving passes from the youngster as he shows composure beyond his years. Week One has been good and he’ll further improve as the season goes on.
The first FC Dallas Academy professional product went through his first preseason in 2010 after signing a professional contract on September 16, 2009. His involvement with the U-17 Mexican National Team in the World Cup was both a blessing and a curse. The experience of playing on such a grand stage brings confidence, but being away on National Team duty didn’t allow for FCD acclimation. Leyva’s technical ability has always been eye-catching. After the first week of training, the Irving, TX local is showing a higher level of concentration than seen before. Improved vision and alertness to both sides of the ball has been good through Week One. If Leyva can pull all his ability together and combine it with further attention to detail, he could fill a role much like Eric Avila did last year.
FC Dallas' first selection in the 2011 Supplemental Draft has shown well in his first week. For those who don't know, the Olympic Marseille product played in a Ligue 1 match before deciding to pursue a college degree in the United States. Both Schellas Hyndman and Barry Gorman are familiar with the 24-year old Frenchman, as they both scouted him for their college programs before discovering he had been a professional in France. Following two seasons for NAIA school Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, Florida, Pradie is hopeful of making a return to professional football. Playing primarily at center back for Lyon, the France native has a high soccer IQ and a good left foot. In scrimmages this week he has connected on several long passes that allowed an attacker to get in behind the opposing defense. If several roster spots are up for grabs, I would expect Pradie could take one. Working against him? MLS only allows eight international roster spots, making Pradie's job that much more difficult.
Thursday: February 3
With the blanket of ice covering North Texas, the start of FC Dallas preseason has presented unique challenges to coaches and players alike. Forced to move to a nearby indoor facility, the team has had to make do with tight spaces and an overcrowded field. The opportunity to truly evaluate new trialists is minimal, but there are a few familiar faces that are sparkling. All four of the following players have something in common -- they all took part in National Team camps prior to the start of the 2011 preseason.
The speedy Honduran looks fit and determined to prove that the outside midfield position is his to lose. With his participation on the Copa CentroAmerica Champion side of Honduras, Chavez looks as sharp as he did during FCD’s impressive playoff run. His form will give a boost from Day One.
Playing nearly 70 minutes against Chile during a January friendly has certainly helped Shea move beyond a forgettable MLS Cup Final. He looks fit and sharp on the ball. His courage to try things -- which is typically based on confidence -- looks as good as it did during the majority of 2010. Can he surpass the heights he reached last season? Starting preseason in this fashion would lead me to say yes. Chavez and Shea are your starting wide players going into camp, and it’s their job to lose.
Earning his first US National Team cap was an offseason highlight for the second-year player. His composure on the ball is an asset, and so far indoors he has remained calm and collected. The question going into this season is this: who will fill the shoes of the departed Dax McCarty? The answer is Eric Alexander. If he can show the consistency he had during the 19-game unbeaten streak FCD posted last year, he will be the other central midfield complement to Daniel Hernandez.
When Schellas Hyndman called this Academy product "the future of FC Dallas," he might not have been too far off. Following a recent U-20 Mexican National Team camp, Luna looks as hungry as ever, but also very confident. There has never been a question about his ability in front of goal, but this kid wants to play yesterday. Not only did he lead FCD in preseason scoring last preseason, but he may do it again in 2011.
I expect more competition in "Roster Watch" as the other players continue to build their fitness and sharpness, but after the first couple of days Chavez, Shea, Alexander and Luna stood out more than anyone else. Make sure to to follow Roster Watch all preseason long as I continue to monitor players, and follow me on Twitter for even more behind-the-scenes access.