FRISCO - It’s the momentous occasion you’ve all been waiting for - the first Monday Mailbag of 2018! It was quite the news-heavy week last week, so lots to discuss as we approach the start of the MLS Preseason.
“Why did FCD not release its players to the U.S. National Team for January camp?”
It is certainly a unique scenario, but from my understanding it’s not as cut-and-dry as it’s being portrayed. With CONCACAF Champions League taking another big emphasis this season from the club and given the large number of roster changes this offseason, FC Dallas needs their players in camp from the get-go in 2018. While this serves as a little bit of a shock to the outside, players like Kellyn Acosta and Matt Hedges have proven they are firmly in the National Team picture and, quite frankly, serve a much bigger role in Frisco as leaders of FCD than in a January camp that has much less importance than in years past. And neither has voiced frustrations or issues with the technical staff about the decision.
Looking at the crop of players called in, 50 percent are still looking to crack the National Team conversation. This is a young blood camp, by and large. Yes, every other MLS team in CCL has players represented, but let’s look at who is representing them: Alex Bono (0 caps), Justin Morrow (3 caps), Tyler Adams (1 cap), Marlon Hairston (0 caps) and Cristian Roldan (1 cap). The one regular USMNT call-up is Jordan Morris, who is coming off a tough sophomore season.
None of Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore or Clint Dempsey are in camp and Dallas isn’t the only team who wished to hold their key players back.
An argument can be made about Jesse Gonzalez using January camp as a proving ground, but the goalkeeper is coming back from a minor offseason procedure and would not have been in the picture regardless for that reason. He won’t miss any preseason time, but still is not ready for National Team duty.
Yes, it’s an important symbolic start to a new era of U.S. Soccer, but this edition of January camp is still taking place under an interim coach without a World Cup to prepare for. Attendance or lack thereof won’t be a deterrent to any of the three getting looks going forward.
“Do you see Servania getting decent minutes this season? If so, would we see a formation change to account for our attacking midfield? Maybe even a 3-5-2?”
Depending on your definition of decent, my gut tells me not really - at least in MLS play. Simply due to the fact that Brandon Servania in such a crowded position on the field, I think he’ll see some minutes this season, but not more than a game here or there along the way. He played more in an attacking role in college, but I think FCD still sees him as a No. 6 or No. 8 at the pro level. In U.S. Open Cup play, I think he will get a chance a la Reggie Cannon in 2017, but with Victor Ulloa and Jacori Hayes already on the roster in similar roles, I think this is really an acclimation season for Servania.
To his credit, the midfielder knows this season is not about minutes played, but about acclimating to the pro level and taking the opportunities that do come his way. You can read more about that here.
“How many open roster spots and can we expect more signings before training camp?”
As of now, Dallas has six roster spots open - not counting any pending signings or SuperDraft picks, of which any Signed Seniors or Generation adidas players would be automatically added. You can absolutely expect more signings before camp because there are so many spots still available. Not all 30 will be filled by January 22 because there will be some roster battles that play out in preseason with draft picks and trialists, but there should be another name or two in the fold coming soon.