Changes abound as the Dallas Sidekicks ready for the season

It’s time for indoor soccer season! As the year comes to a close and the weather outside becomes increasingly frightful, soccer moves indoors for the winter, with the Sidekicks set to play a 24-game season in the Major Arena Soccer League.

For more details on those 24 games, check out the schedule reveal over here.

Today, however, it’s time to take a look at the roster for the upcoming season. With former General Manager Jesse Llamas taking the reigns as team president and Pablo Da Silva as Head Coach, the roster is already shaping up rather differently, with a lot of new names coming in, a few names returning, and some familiar faces bringing their talents to the floor.

The Roster So Far

Axel Chakounte

  • Position: Forward
  • From: Cameroon
  • Previously: Houston Bolt (PASL)

Chakounte comes to the Sidekicks via the PASL’s Houston Bolt where he notched 11 goals and 4 assists in just 7 games, leading the PASL’s South-Central division for the 2020-2021 season. Previously, he played USCAA collegiate soccer with Paul Quinn College in Dallas.

Billy O’Dwyer

  • Position: Midfielder
  • From: Bucharest, Romania
  • Previously: Foro 360 (UPSL)

Billy O’Dwyer spent 3 seasons with the Sidekicks, playing a total of 25 games across the 16-17, 18-19, and 19-20 seasons, reaching a high of 13 games with 3 goals and 2 assists in the 19-20 season. He previously has played in Italy and Gibraltar in Europe, and played collegiate soccer at Grand Canyon University.

FC Dallas players head shots
Frisco, TX – January 22: FC Dallas player Bradlee Baladez at FC Dallas Stadium on January 21, 2013 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts)

Bradlee Baladez

  • Position: Forward
  • From: Mesquite, TX
  • Previously: Mesquite Outlaws (MASL)

Baladez made his professional debut with FC Dallas, signing as a homegrown player in 2012 and playing just one match in 2013. Since then, he’s played in the USL and NASL, before signing with the Mesquite Outlaws in 2019. With Mesquite, he played 19 games, scoring 9 goals and notching an assist, finishing 7th for the Outlaws in total points.

Brenden Lee

  • Position: Midfielder
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • Previously: Fort Worth Vaqueros (NPSL)

Brenden Lee played college soccer for SMU before joining the Mesquite Outlaws for their inaugural season. With the Outlaws, Lee played 16 games, notching 3 goals and 7 assists. Elsewhere, he’s a director and head trainer at City Futsal in Dallas.

Chase Coy

  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • From: McKinney, TX
  • Previously: Rogers State University (NCAA)

Chase Coy is a local kid, who played soccer for McKinney-Boyd High School and Solar SC before joining NCAA-D2 Rogers State University. He’ll be making his professional debut with the Sidekicks.

Christian Vazquez

  • Position: Defender
  • From: Sacramento, CA
  • Previously: Denton Diablos (NPSL)

Christian Vazquez played for the Dallas Texans and the FC Dallas academy before an injury derailed his career. Since then, he’s launched Villareal North Texas and has played NPSL soccer with the likes of the Denton Diablos. He’s also making his professional debut with the Sidekicks.

Davide Di Poce

  • Position: Midfielder
  • From: Trenton, MI
  • Previously: MPSL

Di Poce played college and semi-pro soccer in Michigan before relocating to Texas to turn professional with the Sidekicks.

Diego Burato

  • Position: Midfielder
  • From: Cruciuma, Brazil
  • Previously: Dallas Sidekicks

Diego Burato is back for his 3rd season with the Sidekicks, having joined Dallas from the Mesquite Outlaws midway through the 19-20 season. With Dallas, he’s logged 12 matches across the last 2 seasons, notching 2 goals in the 19-20 campaign.

Erik Macias

  • Position: Midfielder
  • From: Mesquite, TX
  • Previously: DKSC (UPSL)

Erik Macias played college soccer for UT Tyler before moving into coaching with Paul Quinn College. Since then, he’s played UPSL and Roja League ball with FC Harrington/DKSC. With DKSC, he qualified for the 2022 US Open Cup.

Estevan Vazquez

  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • From: Sacramento, CA
  • Previously: Mesquite Outlaws (MASL)

Estevan, brother of Christian Vazquez, also played for the FC Dallas academy, as well as for Queretaro in Mexico, as a teenager. Since then, he’s played 1 game for the Mesquite Outlaws, and was a member of the USA Futsal National Team at the 2021 World Cup.

Felipe Silva

  • Position: Defender
  • From: Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Previously: St. Louis Ambush

Felipe Silva joins the Dallas Sidekicks from their Central Division rivals, the St. Louis Ambush. With St. Louis, Silva played 55 games, notching 10 goals and 13 assists, and gained a reputation as a consistent two-way player, excelling on defense while contributing on offense.

Jonathan Cisneros

  • Position: Defender
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • Previously: Fort Worth Vaqueros (NPSL)

Jonathan Cisneros is set to make his indoor soccer debut after previously playing professionally for Platense FC in Honduras and CD Leganes’ U23 side in Spain. He’s also played with the Fort Worth Vaqueros in NPSL and Roja League action.

Luis Morales

  • Position: Forward
  • From: Irving, TX
  • Previously: Mesquite Outlaws (MASL)

Luis Morales previously signed with the Mesquite Outlaws, but never actually featured in a a game and has still yet to officially make his professional debut. He played for Irving High School and has played semi-pro soccer for Irving FC and Fort Worth FC.

Nago Mbengue

  • Position: Midfielder
  • From: Senegal
  • Previously: Foro 360 (UPSL)

Nago Mbengue comes to the Sidekicks having already played professionally in the American pyramid. He’s previously been attached to the Indy Eleven and Dayton Dutch Lions organizations, and most recently played for Indy Futsal and Foro 360.

Sebastian Mendez

  • Position: Midfielder
  • From: Oak Cliff, TX
  • Previously: DKSC (UPSL)

Sebastian Mendez turns pro with the Sidekicks after several seasons with prominent semi-pro and amateur sides. He previously played for NTX Rayados before joining FC Harrington/DKSC for UPSL and Roja League play.

Stephen Gonzales

  • Position: Defender
  • From: Red Oak, TX
  • Previously: DKSC (UPSL)

Gonzales is a local academy product, having played for the Vaqueros, Kickers, and FC Dallas academy teams. As an adult, he most recently played for DKSC in the UPSL and Roja League.

Juan Gamboa

  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • From: Brownsville, TX
  • Previously: Dallas Sidekicks

Gamboa returns to the Sidekicks for his sixth season, having already played 74 of his 89 MASL games with Dallas. Gamboa has been the primary starting goalkeeper for Dallas since the 15-16 season, and was one of the few bright moments in an otherwise dismal campaign earlier this year.

Mike Jones

  • Position: Defender
  • From: St. Louis, MO
  • Previously: Dallas Sidekicks

Mike Jones is back for his sixth season with the Sidekicks, having previously appeared in 73 matches for Dallas. Over his 92-game MASL career, he’s scored 11 goals, notched 17 assists, and earned a reputation as a fan-favorite stalwart defender.

David Ortiz

  • Position: Defender
  • From: McKinney, TX
  • Previously: Dallas Sidekicks

David Ortiz formerly played for the FC Dallas Academy and North Texas SC, before turning pro with CD Guijuelo in Spain. Upon joining the Sidekicks for the 20-21 campaign, he was named an All-MASL Top Newcomer. He also played for the USA Futsal National Team at the 2021 Futsal World Cup.

Powell_vsFlash
Anthony Powell playing for the Mesquite Outlaws shoots against the Monterrey Flash. (Courtesy Mesquite Outlaws)

Anthony Powell

  • Position: Forward
  • From: Ft. Worth, TX
  • Previously: Dallas Sidekicks

Anthony Powell is a familiar name both to Sidekicks fans and fans of local NPSL and Roja League sides. Powell has previously played for the Fort Worth Vaqueros and Inocentes FC, as well as playing internationally for Sweden’s Saffle FF. Powell is back for his 3rd season with Dallas and 4th season of MASL action.

Gustavo Piedra

  • Position: Midfielder
  • From: Plano, TX
  • Previously: Dallas Sidekicks

Piedra has been one of the most consistently effective and tireless Sidekicks players since earning a regular starting role in the 15-16 season. With Dallas, he’s already played 70 games with 9 goals and 13 assists, leading the team in assists for the 20-21 season.

Kristian Quintana

  • Position: Defender
  • From: Garland, TX
  • Previously: Dallas Sidekicks

Kristian Quintana also joins the returning core, returning for his 5th season with the Sidekicks. Since joining the team for the 14-15 season, Quintana has played 45 matches and led the team in several defensive stats the previous two seasons. In outdoor soccer, he’s played for Foro 360 in UPSL and Roja League action.

Oscar Romero

  • Position: Midfielder
  • From: Ft. Worth, TX
  • Previously: Dallas Sidekicks

Oscar Romero played in the academies of both FC Dallas and Pumas UNAM, and made his professional debut in the Mexican lower divisions before joining North Texas SC in 2019. In the MASL, he played the 19-20 season with the Mesquite Outlaws before joining the Sidekicks for the 20-21 season.

Romero NTXSC-Champions
Oscar Romero celebrates the North Texas SC League One 2019 Championship. (Craig Marcho, 3rd Degree)

Brian Rodriguez

  • Position: Defender
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • Previously: Dallas SIdekicks

Rodriguez joined the Sidekicks for the 20-21 season after impressing at a college combine, and ended up earning an All-MASL Rookie Team honorable mention. While he only played off the bench in 7 games last season, he’s taking to the indoor game well.

Felipe de Sousa

  • Position: Forward
  • From: Vila Velha, Brazil
  • Previously: Dallas Sidekicks

From the moment he joined the Sidekicks for the 19-20 season, De Sousa proved his worth as one of the best attacking players on the roster. During the disastrous 20-21 season, De Sousa put the team on his back, scoring 17 of the team’s 44 goals in just 9 games. He finished 2nd in the league for goals scored and was top 10 in the league in total points and points per game.

Julio Varela

  • Position: Midfielder/Defender
  • From: Watsonville, CA
  • Previously: Dallas Sidekicks

Varela was signed as a free agent from Turlock Express following the 19-20 season, and featured in all 9 games for the Sidekicks last season. He notched 6 goals and 4 assists, serving as one of the team’s primary playmakers.

What to Expect

This is a radically different Sidekicks team to the one that played last season, with a huge influx of new talent and a number of returning names who previously played for the Outlaws. With the Bozas era officially over and the Llamas/Da Silva era set to begin, honestly, my expectations are decently high. Nearly everyone on the roster brings either past MASL experience or results from local semi-pro leagues to the table.

This team, on paper, is better than it was during the abbreviated 20-21 season, has coaching and management staff that understands the indoor game and the roster far more intimately, and every move made yet makes sense. There’s a healthy mix of indoor veterans, local names, and promising rookies, and the team honestly feels more like the post-relaunch Tatu-era teams than any Bozas side ever did. Given that those years saw the Sidekicks at their best since the relaunch, that primes my expectations.

If the roster continues to come together, Da Silva gets a cohesive tactical plan installed, and no one regresses substantially, making the playoffs feels likely. With 24 matches to play and 8 teams set to make the playoffs, Dallas could likely qualify for the postseason with a 9-15 or 10-14 record, and yet I feel that might be too low a bar to set. Without seeing this team play, I won’t go predicting a top-of-the-table finish, but a return to .500-or-better form for the first time since the 14-15 season seems like a very likely outcome.

This team is essentially the best of the 19-20 Outlaws and Sidekicks combined, and those two teams combined for 10 wins across the abbreviated season. Yeah, just adding their total wins is ridiculously unscientific, I know, but with no preseason games being played and nothing from a handful of former Mesquite players in over a year, there’s little else to go off.

Basically, what I’m saying is I think the Sidekicks probably won’t stink this season, and might actually be good. Like, good good. Like, actually make the playoffs on merit and potentially win more games than they lose.

Yeah, that’s not likely to bring home a fifth championship, but given how dire this team has been the past several years, just being decent, or even a watchable mediocre, is a massive step in the right direction. But only time will tell.

The Sidekicks kickoff their season this Saturday, December 4, when they host the St. Louis Ambush.

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