FRISCO - After Oscar Pareja dressed a Starting XI with an average age of 23.8 years on Saturday, it’s only fitting that today’s Monday Mailbag is all about the youngsters! Let’s dive right in:
With the impressive debuts for Hayes and Pomykal, how are they able to become regulars week in and week out? - Pablo Ocampo
Pablo starts us off with a great question, and one that isn’t straightforward. Both players excelled in their MLS debuts and although everyone wants to see more of them, patience will be key. Both know the work that still needs to be done to become a full-fledged starter, but the sky is the limit on their careers. Hayes has drawn several comparisons to a young Kellyn Acosta in the defensive midfield, and the Homegrown was in a similar position 3-4 years ago. Pomykal, although he plays like someone many years older, is just 17. In a similar time frame, one or both could be in a similar position that Kellyn is in now.
The biggest thing they can do is to keep putting in the work in the training ground. Oscar has been known to give a role to the best player at the moment, and if they keep showing what they’ve got, you never know. Both have, however, established themselves as reliable depth and should be ready to go at any given moment. With the frequency of games across three competitions, they will get more looks this season. Injury, international call-ups or anything could happen and their number could be called upon. It will just take some time.
What is the situation with Reynolds. I know that Ferreira actually trains with the team, but I haven't seen any action from Reynolds with the team. What is his status? - Ismael Belkoura
Another great question, and one that hasn’t really been addressed as it should be. Bryan Reynolds is currently in the Residency Program with the U.S. U-17 National Team in Bradenton, Fla. He began with the program in August of last year before he was signed professionally, and has been allowed to continue there rather than spending the first part of the season with the First Team. He’s played in Panama, Jamaica, Argentina and the prestigious Nike Friendlies, and next month will be a part of the team that looks to qualify for the U-17 World Cup in India coming up in October.
At 15 years old, Reynolds is one of the youngest in the program playing up with the U-17s and it really speaks volumes about his talent as a young player. As someone who spent two weeks on the IMG Campus (where the program is based) two years ago, I can tell you the intense training schedule, the facilities at his disposal and the playing time he gets while in the Residency Program is far better for his development than being a depth practice player in Frisco early on. Not to mention how being away from home for the year will help him grow as a person as well. Reynolds is a big part of the future of the club, but there is no reason to rush him into the first team.
Is Figueroa going to be our third choice CB or do you think we will look for one during the summer? - FC Danny
The center back depth chart is one that is a little in-flux, but I can tell you they aren’t looking to add another center back to the roster right now. I think you could consider Figueroa as the third choice based on experience, but there are really four options behind Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman: Figueroa, Atiba Harris, Aaron Guillen and Walker Hume. Figueroa’s natural position is at left back, while Harris’ strong suit has become the right back role, but both can make the move to the middle. Aaron Guillen is a natural center back although he has appeared more at left back for FCD, and after Saturday’s strong performance could have a future there as well. And then Walker Hume is your big, young option as the rookie.
I say it’s a fluid situation because it all depends who is available and where. Having Guillen as an option at right back with Anibal Chala out injured, you can move Figueroa into the middle. However, if there were no option at right back, Figueroa would likely stay there and someone else would play in the middle. Similarly on the other side, with Hernan Grana and Reggie Cannon as options on the left, Harris could move in easily as well. If you look at last night, I personally believe Oscar was looking to give Grana rest and therefore wanted Atiba on the right. Then, he had the ability to pull Figueroa into the middle knowing that Guillen can play both as well, opting for a veteran presence at center back.
Having several players on the back line that can play a number of positions is a good problem to have for FCD, but it can make a true depth chart confusing to say the least.