One of the hot topics of discussion around the MLS watercooler this winter is the amount of money being spent by MLS clubs on the top end of their rosters. FC Dallas, on the other hand, has continued with its business as usual.
I caught up with FC Dallas Technical Director Andre Zanotta via phone to talk about Thursday’s SuperDraft and the club’s offseason moves. I asked him if the club is concerned about the MLS escalation in spending.
“Not really,” Zanotta. “We need to mind our own business here and do what we think is the best for FC Dallas. I’m sure the other clubs, they are doing the same for their own clubs, for their own teams. What they know is best for their teams. I feel pretty confident on what we’re doing here.”
“This is a common goal for every club, for every person that is working in this league and should make it a better product, make the game more attractive to the public,” Zonatta said of clubs trying to improve.
“That’s what we’re doing here. We’re confident that we have a stronger roster than last year and, hopefully, we fight for something more than just reaching the playoffs.”
So far for FC Dallas, the offseason has included an indirect swap of Dominic Badji for Fafa Picault as well as the signing of Thiago Santos from Palmeiras. In this space, I had advocated for the addition of a new holding mid, but the level and price of the Santos purchase caught many people off guard.
“He has been at Palmeiras for five years, I tried to bring him to Gremio before. It’s not easy to stay for such a long time at one of the top teams in Brazil,” Zonatta said of Santos.
“He’s a very strong player. He’s a great guy, on and off the field. When I spoke to him and when he Luci spoke to him, we felt he had a big, big motivation to come here and to be successful. He’s really excited to help and anxious to be here.”
Los Toros, under Zonatta’s direction, has been extending contracts of players already with the club, players performing at a high level. Ryan Hollingshead, Paxton Pomykal, Mat Hedges, Jesus Ferreira, and Jesse Gonzalez have all had their contracts extended since September.
“I think it’s important to value the players that are here and performing well—especially the Homegrowns,” said Zanotta. “They’ve been loyal to this club and growing throughout our system and developing. We believe we had a very good year, so it was a no brainer that we wanted to keep those guys here for a longer time.
The 2020 MLS SuperDraft is on Thursday – and it seems the club is about to sign a college Homegrown, Eddie Munjoma out of SMU – which should help fill a few holes on the roster.
This will be Zanotta’s first SuperDraft with FCD and he says the club strategy isn’t about need. “This is what I learned. It’s a matter of trying to find the best talent, the player that we feel can be a success.”
While the winter moves so far are positive steps and the draft will help fill the roster, Zanotta did mention one move to come.
“We’re working to announce another player soon. That’s what we’re working on. What’s best for us.”
While it was never likely Zanotta would spill the beans over the phone, he skillfully dodged the follow-up request for a hint about the player’s position.
“No,” Zanotta chuckled. “We’d like this to be a surprise. Wait a little bit longer.”