A 6-pack of “protect the investment” signings for FC Dallas

With the imminent departure of Bryan Reynolds, the reported interest in Ricardo Pepi and Tanner Tessmann, and the recent sale of Reggie Cannon; many fans have asked the question: “who’s next?”

I’m glad you asked.

Around these parts we have a nickname for a teenage Homegrown signing, we call these kids “protect the investment” signings. (PTI signings)

Meaning, of course, that FC Dallas has a large financial stake in the Academy and they want to lock up the tip-top tier of talent coming through their system.  These PTI players are the very peak of talent and professional projection.

FC Dallas began to make PTI signings in the wake of losing Weston McKennie to Schalke 04 – a wake-up call for both FCD and MLS as a whole – and have included players like Paxton Pomykal, Jesus Ferreira, and Bryan Reynolds who were signed at 16, 15, and 15 years of age.

This mid-teens signing differentiates them from kids signed at 18 as they leave the Academy or after some time in College like Tanner Tessmann, Edwin Cerrillo, Reggie Cannon, or Brandon Servania

PTI’s aren’t expected to make a first-team impact for several years and it can be into their third or fourth season before they begin to make appearances around the ages of 17 to 19. 

Every player is different and they all mature and progress at different rates, but the general idea of the PTI signing is teenagers who aren’t yet MLS ready but need to be signed so they aren’t lost to big-money clubs when they turn 18 (or even before).  These PTI kids sometimes continue to play for the Academy – in big tournaments like Dallas Cup, DA Finals, or GA Cup for example – and North Texas SC.

The FCD Academy is a conveyer belt of talent.  There are always going to be more kids to sign.

So who then are the next such signings going to be for FC Dallas? 

As always, I have a list. 

This is my list and it is my list only. I’ve put players on here based on my own observations and the opinions I’ve collected from soccer people I respect.  No one at FC Dallas has indicted to me these are indeed players to be signed, but the club’s actions often indicate levels of interest and we can read between the lines.

Buzz’s PTI Homegrown List

1. Matthew Corcoran

At the age of 14, one of two 2006s (currently U15s) to first get a North Texas SC training invite at the end of 2020.  Matthew is a holding mid and deep playmaker who dominates the game and the field. He’s spent a lot of time playing up with the 2005s – which is where I first saw him and he stood out even there. 

He’s got silky touch, the ball is always where he wants it. He anticipates and prepares to move away from pressure before he even receives the ball and is multiple steps ahead of the game at all times. While I wouldn’t call him speedy, his game reading keeps him ahead of the play and he covers plenty of ground to always be in the right position.

Unsurprisingly, he’s been in US Youth National team U14 and U15 camps. He’s a former Dallas Texan and was being monitored by German clubs by the time he was a U12 and he’s gone to training camps over in Germany.  Matthew’s parents, Brian and Monica, both played college soccer and Brian was a US U17.

My favorite story about Matthew involves FC Dallas playing in a tournament down in Mexico.  I had some random Mexico scout I’ve never talked to email me videos of the kid raving about him – I assume cause I’ve mentioned Corcoran before – talking about the Mexican club coaches going crazy over him.

“A holding mid topping the list,” you ask?

Yes, I don’t want to overstate this, but, in my opinion, this kid is astounding (nobody let him read this).  Corcoran is a once or twice a decade player. He’s the highest-ranking midfielder nationally in the 2006 class and arguably the top player in his age bracket. 

There are already clubs clamoring to get this kid, his parents are very connected in soccer, and he’s advised by some savvy people. He will not be an easy – or cheap – signing.

He turns 15 in February, so he’s right about the perfect age for a PTI contract this coming summer. Corcoran was just recently moved up to morning training with the FCD U17s along with 4 other players.

Matthew Corcoran, FC Dallas, #8 vs Club Leon.

2. Diego Hernandez

The first 2005 to play for North Texas SC albeit with just 1 minute of action when he was a U15. He’s now a U17.  Diego’s name is one I’ve been hearing for a couple years now and he was among the first 2005s to train with NTX last spring training and the only one to make a bench and get into a game.

Hernandez is a creative midfielder in an attacking-8 style that FCD produces bags of. Yes, another one.  He’s right in line with Pomykal, Ferreira, and Roberts in terms of quality and talent.

He’s not the highest ranking mid in the 2005 class, not even at FCD, but he’s the one the organization seems to have moved along the most aggressively.  He’s currently 15 – He’ll turn 16 in February – and is a US Youth International.   

I would expect to see him with North Texas SC more this upcoming season if his progression path continues.  Perhaps backing up Nicky Hernandez and Gibran Rayo in the North Texas SC midfield.

3. Jordan Jones

Also a 2005. Along with Hernandez, Jones was one of the first from the 2005 group to train with North Texas SC.  Jones is a US U15 and was the first from the FCD 2005 to make a US U17 camp.

Jordan is a box-to-box 8 and a terrific athlete from the same mold as Tanner Tessmann. Top Drawer Soccer has him as the highest ranked FCD player in the current FCD U17 team (until Corcoran joins that level, anyway).

Jones will be 16 in January and he’s got size, strength, pace, and power that combines with his soccer qualities to project to the pro level. Those are the combinations that FCD has recently found in demand from foreign clubs in players like Chris Richards, Chris Cappis, Reynolds, and Tessmann.

Jones is a player I feel has tremendous upside with lots of room to grow in his game.  I’m expecting an NTX appearance to be his next big step.

Jones_FCDU15_vsBayern
Jordan Jones battles against Bayern Munich in the 2019 Bayern adidas Campus Cup. Nolan Norris lurks in the background. (Courtesy Bayern Munich)

4. Anthony Ramirez

Another 2005 that got a North Texas SC training invite this last year.  He’s a bit younger and literally turns 15 today.  He’s a little shorter than some but may have the best hair in the Academy.  He too has been a U15 US call-up.

He’s a phenomenal ball-handler and dribbler, the best in the U17s and maybe the whole Academy at this point.  Ramirez has that quick, tight space burst to beat players one on one and is an excellent passer.

The “problem” with Ramirez is that he’s a pure 10 in a team/academy that doesn’t really use one anymore.  Of late, he seems to mostly play out wide on the wing in a false-wing style. This is the thing that might hold back his progression just a bit. In a way, he’s in the same vein as Thomas Roberts, a pure 10 needing to adapt his game for the next level.

Ramirez is as young as he can be and still be a 2005, so combining that with the positional issue and I think he might be a signing for a little further down the line. Like summer ‘22 or ‘23, maybe.

His talent is undeniable though and lots of people think he has the biggest upside and the most talent in the top two brackets of the Academy (U19s and U17s).  

He absolutely belongs on this list.

Anthony Ramirez plays for the FC Dallas U14s against Ikapa during the 2019 Dallas Cup. (David Rachuig, 3rd Degree)

5. Antonio Carrera

The oldest player on my list, Carrera is a 2004 and will be 17 in March.  But in my book, he qualifies as a potential PTI signing because he’s a goalkeeper and – as we talk about frequently – keepers mature later.

Antonio has been a frequent training keeper for North Texas SC and plays for the U19s and U17s in the Academy.  He’s been a US U15 and is in the US U17 mix this year (Covid limiting camps, etc). 

His brother Nico was a standout center back for the FCD Academy who chose the US over Mexico for the U17 World Cup and is now at Holstein Kiel in Germany.  With that pathway mapped out for him, FC Dallas will need to sign Antonio to keep him in town.

Antonio is 6’3” with all the attributes and qualities that project to the next level including pretty good passing feet which is key for Luchi-Ball.

The question over the next season or two is: does FCD see enough to sign him at 17 or 18 to an MLS contract? 

In my thinking, at 18 Carrera would still qualify as a PTI signing as it would likely take multiple seasons before he would contribute at the MLS level.   North Texas SC would instead be his home for a couple of seasons; which is, of course, part of what that club is for. Carrera will need that playing time at a level higher than the Academy.

Antonio Carrera v Chivas in the 2019 Liga MX Internacional tournament.

6. Julian Eyestone

So given all that talk about keepers maturing later, you may be shocked to see a 14-year-old keeper on this list.  Two potential pro-level keepers two years apart is impressive as FCD has so far only produced two: Jesse Gonzalez and Richard Sanchez. (Maybe Carlos Avilez could be included if he finds a team after departing NTXSC.)

Eyestone won’t turn 15 until April, but he was the other 2006 (with Corcoran) who was invited to NTX training at the end of 2020. 

And he’s already 6’5”. 

But not 6’5” and all gangly like a giraffe, 6’5” and athletic and coordinated.  Good lateral quickness, he fills the goal an impressive amount.  Julian’s got everything to project to the very highest levels of goalkeeper as long as the big body doesn’t let him down over the next few years.

Julian is the top-ranked keeper nationally in the class 2006 and – along with Corcoran and three others – was just moved up to morning U17 training.

Given the keeper maturity arch, I do think he’s one for a bit down the line and not 2021… Maybe more like 2023. But there are already agents and foreign clubs knocking on this kid’s door and the queue for his services is forming.

FCD better be laying the groundwork for getting him on board.

Julian Eyestone, an absolute Unit.

A Final Word on Homegrowns

Will all these guys be Homegrowns? Probably not all. Stuff happens, people change, and some will turn down FCD and head off to Europe on their own I imagine.

And there will also be Homegrowns signed in the next few seasons that are not on this list. This is just the PTI list.

There might be a few kids that will mature at 18/19 as they come out of the Academy like Tessmann. There might also be college players who are singed before they graduate – like Cannon and Servania – and there might be some senior Homegrowns like Eddie Munjoma.

If you’re followed me on the blog, podcast, or socials for long enough you will have heard me talking about a Homegrown bubble coming in the Academy. The 2003s are pretty much done and the 2004s are thin… but 2005s and 2006s are loaded with pro potential beyond these names here. It’s going to be something to see, I think.

But these PTI kids are in my opinion the best of the best of the teenagers. The ones I think could go on to bigger teams and the highest levels down the line. 

The ones FCD agrees with me on are the ones that will get signed as teenagers.

3 Comments

  1. None of these guys have gotten meaningful time with North Texas. Do you think they would get signed before that happens? Seems like FCD would want to use that evaluation tool since they have it now. Relatedly, do you see FCD signing any of these kids this offseason? Or next summer at the earliest?

  2. Thanks for the great breakdowns on these guys, Buzz. It is really exciting to see how the conveyor belt of talent is really starting to get humming these past few years.

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