Doctor, Doctor, give me the news. I’ve got a bad case of lovin’ you. No pill’s gonna cure my ill. I’ve got a bad case of lovin’ you.Robert Palmer
The 2023 FC Dallas season ended with the Game 3 loss to Seattle back on November 10th. The 2024 season begins on February 24th. So right now, here in the first week of January, Los Toros are – give or take – halfway through the offseason build.
So now is as good a time as any to check in on the progress of said build.
Players are slated to report to camp on the 13th of January and, following physicals, begin camp on the 15th or 16th. (The official camp schedule should be out soon.)
For this post, I’m going to look at the roster in two ways. First, using Coach Nico Estevez‘s preferred tactical system, the 4-3-3, lay out the depth chart of every player in the mix right now.
And second, a straight count of the players using my roster breakdown system.
Opening of Camp Depth Chart
Pending news this week, these are all the names for the opening of FCD camp 2024. This list can and probably will change this week based on trialists, signings, and North Texas SC invitees.
I am putting the players in one position each, the one I believe they will most factor (wings are interchangeable, don’t get too excited). Observing camp, scrimmages, and friendlies will alter the shape and list as we go on.
Two player x-factors that are out of contract but were on FCD’s stated list of “still talking” are Jimmy Maurer and Amet Korca. We shall see when camp opens if those two players are going to be in the mix.
Unsigned draft picks
The 30-Man Roster
Here’s a straight list of players for the 30-man roster.
My roster build method consists of 2 deep everywhere, an extra striker, an extra keeper, an extra center back, and 5 “whatever you want” players. For a deeper dive, you can check out the start of the offseason breakdown.
Two (solvable) problems jump out right away.
1. FCD already is 2 players over the limit and arguably needs to add 2 or 3 more players.
2. FCD has 10 international players and only 8 slots currently.
This isn’t as big of a deal as it used to be. I’ll explain why below.
|TAM, Int 1
|U22, Int 4
|Free Eight 1
|Free Eight 2
|IR Free Eight
|YDP, Int 5. IR?
|Linking Eight 1
|Linking Eight 2
|Int 7, TAM.
|Left Back 1
|Left Back 2
|Extra Left Back
|Center Back 1
|Center Back 2
|Replace Martinez, TAM
|Center Back 3
|Center Back 4
|Center Back 5
|Extra Center Back
|Int 10. Unsigned
|Right Back 1
|Right Back 2
|IR Right Back
|U22, Int 9. IR?
TAM = salary over the DP line but bought down under with Target Allocation Money.
HG = Homegrown roster status
GA = Generation adidas
Int = International
U22 = U22 Initiative signing
Unsigned Draft Pick
Notes, Comments, and Conclusions
Asier Illarramendi is, in roster build terms, Facundo Quignon‘s replacement as Eugene Ansah essentially replaced Jader Obrian.
Of the 2-3 players FCD needs to add, we at 3rd Degree see these needs as a TAM center back (to replace Jose Martinez), a depth center back who can start if needed (Korca last season), and a 3rd goalkeeper.
The aforementioned depth CB might end up being Amet Korca again. Or Nolan Norris (although at this point he seems more like a midfielder). One of the drafted center backs being better than we expect sooner than we expect could also factor here as the 4th or 5th CB.
FCD is after Julian Eyestone as a homegrown as the 3rd keeper but I’m hearing that isn’t going well. They may return to Jimmy Maurer or go some other direction instead.
We would still like to see FCD buy out Jesus Jimenez. That will save FCD a lot of salary cap and an international slot.
TD Andre Zanotta tells me that MLS teams can now carry a 31st “inactive player” and as many Homegrowns as they want (can afford) but these players have to be placed on the “active roster” to play.
In addition, while Zanotta ruled out putting Alan Velasco on season-ending injured reserve, the club can (and should) put both Velasco and Geovane Jesus on “short-term” IR which carries a 6-game minimum. (Both players are expected to be out longer than 6 games.) While this short-term IR move won’t give FCD any cap relief it will give roster relief until the club is ready to activate them.
Players can, of course, be loaned to other clubs or North Texas SC to clear this roster log jam. In my mind, Malik Henry-Scott is more a 9 who can wing, and Tarik Scott is more a wing who can 9. Your mileage may vary. Put ’em both where you like as both, or either, could start the year at North Texas SC. As could Ale Urzua.
Paul Arriola could be bought down (TAM/GAM) to being a non-DP player if FC Dallas wanted to open a DP spot.
The MLS transfer window should open around the end of January and run till about April. Players can sign pre-contracts if they are going to be out of contract this winter. Any player free already can be signed at any time.
Here’s the thing…
All of the above is just basic roster building. In the above build, it’s all pretty much just standing pat for 2024.
So is this it? Is there an ambitious move to help climb the standings?
Is FCD going to carry a TAM player with a DP-level salary that provides almost nothing? Are they counting on Lletget and Arriola returning to 2022 form as the way forward? What of the reported interest in Senior Nips from Liga MX teams?
So far, beyond Illarra replacing Facu and a new hypothetical center back in for JAM, we see little that makes the team better. Enes Sali is just 17 and more about the future, Coach already tapped the breaks on the kid having an instant impact. Think of him as Homegrown-like instead.
But there’s plenty of time…
The season doesn’t start will late February.
It sure would be nice to see some signs of movement soon though.