It was a busy winter for FC Dallas, as eight players departed, four signed, and two players were brought back on new deals.
Dallas took the offseason to overhaul its wings – something that had been a patchwork of repairs since Fabian Castillo absconded to Turkey in 2016. Michael Barrios and Fafa Picault were traded away, while Santiago Mosquera and Francis Atuahene both saw their contract options declined at the end of the 2020 season. Jader Obrian and Freddy Vargas are yet to arrive in Frisco as the heirs-apparent, while FCD circumvented the draft for a back-up by trading for Philadelphia Union Homegrown winger Kalil ElMedkhar.
The Hoops also traded in Reto Ziegler for a younger model in Jose Antonio Martinez from La Liga outfit SD Eibar.
FC Dallas Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez would be hard at work with his players as preseason typically begins around Martin Luther King Day. As the nation stopped to remember Dr. King in the midst of a divisive period, MLS players were still scattered across the globe and waiting for for the call to return.
Major League Soccer normally decides its start date before the preceding MLS Cup has taken place, briefing the MLS Players Association who in turn set the date that preseason camps can begin. With the frosty relationship between the league and union further tested by MLS’ attempt to invoke a force majeure clause to renegotiate the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement for a third time inside a year, no date has been given to the association or teams.
Gonzalez doesn’t seem unduly stressed ahead of his third preseason as FC Dallas Head Coach laid out, with just the dates to fit around a planned six-week schedule.
“We didn’t know when preseason would start,” said Gonzalez. “But in terms of a calendar, and a mesocycle of six weeks, that’s planned. A lot of details in there are planned, we just need to know when day one is to work back from, in terms of if there’s going to be a requirement of potential quarantine maybe, or COVID testing for guys coming into town and guys that are already in market. So we need to just prepare for those things.”
Gonzalez is hopeful for a quick resolution to set a date while his staff works with players remotely.
“Nothing’s been confirmed yet,” said Gonzalez on a media call on Tuesday. “I know there’s some calls, I think this week, to hopefully make some decisions. But just waiting patiently, obviously trying to encourage the players to stay active, whether it’s isolated training or small group training. [Insuring] that they’re safe, they’re active, they’re they’re getting touches, they’re opening up with anaerobic and aerobic workouts. So our physical staff is in touch with them, especially the new players.”
The last stop before preseason is usually the MLS SuperDraft, which takes place on Thursday. The remote draft has been reduced to three rounds, starting at its latest date since being moved from its February slot after 2002.
Draftees have already had a strange situation with much of the 2019/20 NCAA season taken away from them and the traditional MLS Combine another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Buzz had previously reported that Sporting Kansas City arranged an unofficial combine which FC Dallas scouted. FC Dallas Technical Director Andre Zanotta seemed noncommittal in the club’s draft strategy without a top pick.
“What I learned about the draft is just to have the best player available,” Zanotta told reporters. “But obviously we want to combine that with what we need with the best fit for the team. We’ve been having daily discussions, especially the coaching staff, we’re putting a lot of work with Marco Ferruzzi to get those top 15 names so we know what will be available.”
While Dallas lacks a premium pick, Zanotta went on to point out that Derek Waldeck formed a key part in North Texas SC’s team in USL League One after being selected with the 66th overall pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft.
The schedule for these players embarking on a professional career involves a quick turnaround in getting to camp in an attempt to earn a contract. The players picked with the 15th, 48th, 75th, 76th, and 79th picks will have to rely on communication with both Gonzalez’s technical and training staff and that of his North Texas SC counterpart Eric Quill, to coordinate a plan at home.
So the club’s plan is in place. Six weeks from the word go. All we do now is await the word.