FRISCO, Texas - With its wild 2020 season now at a close, FC Dallas made its first moves for the upcoming campaign and exercised contract options on six players with another two still in active negotiations. Here's an early look at how the FC Dallas roster is shaping up ahead of 2021.
Returning: Jimmy Maurer and Kyle Zobeck
Out of Contract: none
Negotiating: Phelipe Megiolaro
The reliable duo of Jimmy Maurer and Kyle Zobeck will stick around for 2021 after the club exercised contract options on both players. Maurer took over the starting role midseason and went on to become one of FCD's most important contributors. The 32-year-old finished at the top of the charts in Goals Against Average (GAA) and Save Percentage among starting MLS keepers, and also made the game-winning penalty save in Dallas' playoff victory over Portland. Zobeck also enjoyed his best season in FCD colors as the Iowa native made his MLS debut and earned a spot in the MLS Team of the Week during a three-game starting run.
The only uncertainty in the goalkeeping department is the future of 21-year-old loanee Phelipe. Dallas signed the Brazilian on loan from Grêmio the summer and has an option to make the deal permanent at the end of this year. With the player and club still in negotiations, it remains to be seen whether Phelipe will add to his one FCD appearance next season.
Returning: Nkosi Burgess, Justin Che, Matt Hedges, Ryan Hollingshead, Eddie Munjoma, Johnny Nelson and Bryan Reynolds
Out of Contract: Callum Montgomery and Reto Ziegler
Dallas' backline finished with the second-best defensive record in the West this year but will be saying goodbye to at least one of its main figures. Reto Ziegler was a picture of consistency in his three seasons in Dallas but the soon-to-be 35-year-old is out of contract and will enter free agency, bringing an end to an FCD career that includes 78 starts and 11 goals. Similarly, former first-round draft pick Callum Montgomery is moving on after spending much of the last two years on loan in the USL Championship/League One. Another potential departure is Bressan who became a crucial part of the center back partnership late in the season. The Brazilian is currently still in negotiations with the club so there's a chance we'll get to see more of him in 2021.
With those two (and potentially three) departures, Dallas enters the offseason with seven defenders. Veterans Matt Hedges and Ryan Hollingshead will continue to provide consistency and leadership while newer contributors like Bryan Reynolds and Johnny Nelson will look to take another step after enjoying breakout seasons. With Ziegler, Montgomery and potentially Bressan moving on, there's opportunity for younger players like Nkosi Burgess, Eddie Munjoma and Justin Che to make a jump up the depth chart.
Returning: Bryan Acosta, Michael Barrios, Edwin Cerrillo, Fafa Picault, Paxton Pomykal, Andrés Ricaurte, Thomas Roberts, Thiago Santos, Dante Sealy, Brandon Servania, Tanner Tessmann, Ema Twumasi
Out of Contract: Francis Atuahene and Santiago Mosquera
Dallas welcomes back a strong midfield core but will say goodbye to both Francis Atuehene and Santi Mosquera. The fourth-overall pick in the 2018 SuperDraft, Atuahene made just one MLS appearance but played 30 times and scored five goals over three loan spells in the USL Championship. Mosquera is also out of contract after three years in Dallas that included 64 games, 13 goals and seven assists. Importantly, his departure also opens up a Designated Player (DP) spot.
Even without Atuahene and Mosquera, FCD has plenty of options to fill its midfield. Newcomers Andrés Ricaurte, Thiago Santos and Tanner Tessmann all acquitted themselves well in their first MLS seasons and together started in the Western Conference semifinal. Both Bryan Acosta and Paxton Pomykal were affected by injury in 2020 but will also be in the starting conversation once their healths permit. The Homegrown trio of Thomas Roberts, Edwin Cerrillo and Brandon Servania saw limited minutes this year and will look to carve out greater roles for themselves in the next campaign.
Without Mosquera, FCD's wing options look a little light heading into the offseason. Michael Barrios and Fafa Picault are proven quantities who bring speed and directness to the attack. Dante Sealy and Ema Twumasi are talented options off the bench but have just 156 minutes of combined MLS experience. With just four wide players in total, bringing in some extra wing depth might be high on the technical staff's priority list.
Returning: Jesús Ferreira, Franco Jara and Ricardo Pepi
Out of Contract: none
There will be no change in FCD's forward options heading into the offseason. Jesús Ferreira finished 2019 as top scorer but played a more withdrawn role this year, usually starting in an attacking midfield or winger role. While he wasn't as productive in terms of goals and assists this time around, he still contributes regardless of position and has all the talent to take a big step forward next season. Franco Jara joined the team in the summer but still finished as leading scorer with a respectable seven goals from 16 starts. With a full preseason under Luchi and a less compact season schedule, we could see even more from Jara in 2021. And finally, Ricardo Pepi, who enjoyed a strong first full season in MLS. The Homegrown scored two goals and had one assist in 17 regular season appearances (two starts) and also gave Dallas its moment of the season with a last-minute equalizer against Portland in the playoffs. Although he'll only be 18 for the 2021 season, Pepi's precocious talent means he could challenge Jara and Ferreira for the starting No. 9 role.