As part of our wrap up of the 2019 season, we asked several members of the FC Dallas media to join us for a 6-part roundtable series.
Joining us for part five of the roundtable will be Dan Crooke and Buzz Carrick from 3rd Degree, Peter Welpton from The Kickaround, Dustin Nation from the Dallas Soccer Show, Clay Massey formerly of FCD Radio, Nico Mendez, who is joining 3rd Degree as a writer, and John Lenard who is already with us at 3rd Degree.
Our fifth topic for discussion is “Room for Improvement” or, in other words, which player did not live up to expectations this season?
Dan Crooke – Writer 3rd Degree & MLSSoccer.com
Technical Staff and Ownership
It seems straightforward to me, the technical staff and ownership. At the end of 2016, FC Dallas needed a striker and a left winger. At the end of 2019, FC Dallas needs a striker and a left winger.
The Bryan Acosta and Bressan signings were great but they didn’t address the areas where Luchi Gonzalez needed a capable player. While Zdenek Ondrasek ended the season well, albeit, in a very small sample size, they brought in a striker who took six months to even get to a standard worth putting on the bench. I think Kobra’s eventual rise was down to FCD lucking into a good teacher in Luchi and a strong mindset in Ondrasek. Certainly not a timeline that was factored in from signing the Czech.
They loaned Gyasi, who promptly quit on the team after 20 minutes, both of which make it seem like they’re not scouting sufficiently, or even making full use of services like Wyscout, and speaking to other teams. A quick call to Anton Nedyalkov and the Ludogorets staff that you built a rapport with a year ago, you ask what Gyasi was like when he played against them three times in the past 15 months. Ask if he’s a fighter or his head drops after a tough tackle. As detailed as scouting gets and as much video becomes available, those conversations will always play a crucial part in the recruitment process.
The cherry on top of it all was Dan Hunt promising “meaningful reinforcements” then delivering nothing, which prompted the strange ‘what went wrong’ video from the club. Andre Zanotta was really hung out to dry, with the message that fans are too entitled if they expected those reinforcements to be delivered, and that he personally needed time to settle.
If Hunt had just said “We’re talking to a few teams and players, and we hope to have some meaningful reinforcements”, no-one bats an eyelid, but instead he created a meme by proclaiming that ‘these won’t just be reinforcements, we’re bringing in meaningful reinforcements.’
Dustin Nation – Co-Host, Dallas Soccer Show
The Left Winger
Two players come to mind who’s seasons didn’t match the expectations (and needs) of the team. Coincidentally, both players played at left wing at some point in 2019.
Santi Mosquera started the season at left wing, but after a lackluster start and over a month on the IR from a knee injury, he never really kicked on. The designated player is obviously talented and shows flashes of brilliance (that Sevilla goal) but seems to either be overthinking his duties on the flank or isn’t a stylistic fit with what he’s being asked to do. On top of that, he is seemingly lacking in his fitness, having only gone 90’ in 2 of his 24 appearances in 2019.
Dominique Badji ended the season at left wing after Zdenek Ondrasek’s emergence at the #9 position. Badji was widely expected to make his mark on FC Dallas this season, having had 8 months to settle in Frisco. Mlssoccer.com analyst Matthew Doyle even predicted he’d get 14+ goals with many fans feeling Luchi’s system would play in the forward’s favor. Unfortunately, Badji only tallied 6 goals in 2040 minutes in 2019 and never really looked comfortable when deputizing at left wing.
Peter Welpton – Co-Host, The Kickaround
It would easily be The ZObra if not for the last-minute bloom, but if you look for consistency in this category, it’s totally Mosquera.
Buzz Carrick – Founder and Editor, 3rd Degree
Badji came out of spring camp guns blazing, leading the team in goals with six in just about six games. Obviously to expect a goal a game – 34 goals! – to continue would be silly, but even half that ratio would have gotten him 15+ goals instead of the 6 he ended up with.
Having started 24 of 28, a great many and the 9 and the rest at left wing, Badji should have bagged way more than six goals on the season… oddly matching his pre-season tally. If he had, this team would have been much higher in the standing.
As it is, all Badji did was convince everyone he’s not the answer and relegate himself to role player.
Nico Mendez – Writer, 3rd Degree and Dallas Sports Nation
It’s a shame that Santiago Mosquera didn’t have much of an impact that many anticipated in his second season in Dallas. Turning 25 years old at the beginning of next season is still “young” for the winger who was brought in as a Young Designated Player and has proven and display the potential that he has.
It took Mosquera some time to get adjusted to life in the United States and with FC Dallas. Throughout the 2018 season, Mosquera appeared to have found his footing on and off the field and by the end of the season, he was playing with much skill, potential, and most importantly, confidence. His comfort with having the ball at his feet and ability to shake off defenders, make an impact off the bench, and score impressive goals suggested to fruitful and promising 2019 for Santiago Mosquera.
Mosquera suffered an injury in May, June, and August that could’ve set him back in terms of finding a footing and rhythm in his game. Mosquera played 24 games (down 5 games), scored 3 goals (down 3 goals), 2 assists (down 3), and played 1,213 minutes (down 376 minutes). Statistically, that isn’t something that you want to see from a second-year DP but the play on the field can offer more clues.
When looking at how Mosquera played on the field, in comparison to his 2018 season, it can arguably be said that Mosquera didn’t have the same vigor, confidence, and possible comfort that he displayed in 2019. What could be the cause of this change in production for Mosquera? Is it the change of coach? The changes in play style that comes with the change of a coach? The injuries that he faced? Are there off-field circumstances? Is it merely just a lack of minutes?
It may not be time to worry and make a call about Mosquera’s future as it is understandable that he must adjust once again with a new coach, a new system, and the unfortunate series of injuries. The fact that there are more questions than answers does leave viewers of FC Dallas wanting more from the attacker.
Clay Massey – Former Writer & Producer, FCD Radio
I think a lot of people had some unrealistically high expectations for Badji coming into the season for a guy who’s never scored more than 9 goals in a season, but he was expected to solve the ever-lasting striker problem that FC Dallas seems to have.
While he did produce a bit in his first full season with the club, he never really looked like the dangerous striker that the team was craving when signing him. He scored just 6 goals in 2040 minutes, while Kobra, who started the season with NTSC, ended up with 7. Badji was non-existent down the stretch and ultimately had a disappointing 2019.
John Lenard – Writer, 3rd Degree and SocTakes
This one has so far been the most difficult to decide, at least for me personally. Most of the guys that would be easy picks are already gone from the club, guys like Cristian Colman or Edwin Gyasi. And there’s basically no point writing points for improvement for a player already on a plane and out of the country.
Hell, even looking at the dudes who spent most of the season either on loan to North Texas or, in the case of Ema Twumasi and Francis Atuahene, on loan with Austin, there’s a lot of positives to dwell on. Across the board, all of the players we expect to see back next March made meaningful progress.
That said, if I must single out any one player, it’s Thomas Roberts (*thomas roberts*). As Buzz repeatedly said on the podcast, during his stints with North Texas, we expected/wanted him to absolutely dominate those games, in the same manor as Ronaldo Damus or Arturo Rodriguez. That simply didn’t really happen. The kid is undeniably talented and has a fantastically high ceiling, but we still haven’t seen him go full beast mode yet. Maybe he needs more time in USL, maybe he needs an offseason to unwind, maybe he just needs a few sessions with a sports psychologist. The talent is there, it’s just on him to unleash it.
If you enjoyed this round table, check out Part One – Coaching Staff Grades – Part Two – Offensive MVP – and Part Three – Breakout Player, and Part Four – Defensive MVP.
And as always, tell us who you picked for Breakout Player down below!