When we discuss the FC Dallas roster for each MLS season, there are many rules to be considered. But it’s not just about rules. It’s also about the coach, the technical director, the shape & style of play, the salary cap, and a balance of future versus now.
A club doesn’t just add players at a whim. They are seeking specific profiles in specific spots at specific price points for the roster. That’s quite complicated.
Breaking Down the Roster
Let’s break down the FC Dallas roster for 2023 keeping positional needs and roster rules in mind. Rules like the 8 international player limit – 9 in FCD’s case after trading for one.
We’re going to make two fairly safe assumptions: Nico Estevez will still be the coach (why would he not be, right?) and he will mostly play a 4-3-3.
I’ve been using a specific roster build method for a few years now that I think works well. Most of the roster is a 2-deep (22 players) with one extra attacker, one extra defender, one extra goalkeeper, and then up to five extra whatever-you-wants.
The club is in much better shape than a year ago.
Let’s dig in.
The 9 – Target Striker
Need 3 – Have 3
|Starter||Jesus Ferreira||Young DP. Homegrown.|
|Veteran Reserve||Franco Jara||DP, International 1.|
|Young Reserve||José Mulato||Apparently bought from Deportive Cali. International 2.|
Franco Jara is under contract through June 30th at which point FCD will clear his ~$3 mil cap number. His actual base salary is about $2 per year so for half a season it should be $1 mil… which is perhaps a number FCD can buy down or buy out if they so choose.
But I don’t think Hunt will. I predict FCD will leave Jara as a DP and wait for his deal to run out.
Buying Jara down costs GAM, you see, and buying him out costs the Hunts money from their own pocket. So, being the Hunts, they will sit tight and look to sign a DP this summer.
I usually burn my extra attacker at the 9 in my build, I particularly want to do that this year since Jesus Ferreira is a false-9 and will have lots of USMNT call-ups. All the signs are pointing to the extra striker being José Mulato even though it’s not official.
Need 4 – Have 4
|Starter||Alan Velasco||Young DP, International 3.|
|Reserve||Jader Obrian||International 4.|
|Reserve||Bernard Kamungo||US citizen.|
When Bernard Kamungo signed he immediately jumped ahead of the other reserve wings on our depth chart barring Jader Obrian.
Those other two wings, Beni Redžić and Kalil ElMedkhar, have had their options declined. Dante Sealy will almost certainly remain on loan.
Update: Tarik Scott has signed as a Homegrown. He’s more winger than 9 for me.
Need 2 – Have 1
|Reserve||Need||U-22 Initiative? International?|
Yes, Paxton Pomykal mostly played this position in 2022 but I’ve long contended his natural position to be linking-8 and that’s where Paxton was immediately moved once Sebastian Lletget was acquired.
You could list Tsiki Ntsabeleng here just cause, but I don’t think he has the profile of a Free-8. I think he belongs in the Linking-8 group below. Yes, there is a difference.
Real-world scenario right now, Paxton Pomykal would shift over and start at free-8 if Lletget was missing.
I would like to see FCD sign a talented young player in the free-8 position using their U-22 initiative.
Need 2 – Have 3
|Extra||Tsiki Ntsabeleng||International 5. Get a green card kid.|
This is Paxton Pomykal‘s natural position, as it is for Brandon Servania and Tsiki Ntsabeleng.
The 6 – Holding Mid
Need 2 – Have 2
|Reserve||Facundo Quignon||International 6.|
I think these players are pretty even. I only listed Edwin Cerrillo as the starter because I personally would make him the starter because he’s much younger at only 22.
Feel free to think of them the other way if you like.
Need 2 – Have 3
|Reserve||Isaiah Parker||Generation adidas.|
Isaiah Parker and Nolan Norris will both probably have to earn spots in the FCD depth chart.
Right now I expect Parker will train with FCD full-time but start the season playing for North Texas SC a bit. The signing of Norris actually makes me think Parker will mostly be with the first team next year.
Norris, I assume, will be full-time with NTX. Norris also projects at CB so it will interesting to see what position they play him at the most.
Need 2 – Have 2
|Starter||Ema Twumasi||Green Card.|
|Reserve||Collin Smith||Or maybe a draft pick?|
If Collin Smith looks good this spring, he too could earn a spot in Coach Nico’s depth chart.
If Smith isn’t ready, put him back at North Texas and draft a right back or sign a college Homegrown like Kevin Bonilla. (My Bonilla campaign continues!) Either way, I want Smith to start the year at NTX to get more PT.
Nanu‘s loan is expiring, and both he and Eddie Munjoma had their options declined.
Need 5 – Have 2 or 3
|Starter||New Starter||$AM signing, trade, or free-agent?|
|Starter||Jose Martinez||International 7.|
|Reserve 2||Veteran Reserve||Matt Hedges?!?|
|Reserve 3||Draft Pick|
I’m a firm believer you need 3 reserve center backs. It’s just too important. Plus you want to be able to go with three at the back if needed.
Oh boy, so much work to be done here. Los Toros need two center backs already and maybe three if they can’t get a deal for Matt Hedges done.
Hedges will be 33 in April and Jose Antonio Martinez will be 30 before the season starts. Plus, JAM has that mystery ailment where his legs can lock up on contract.
I would be on board with a $AM signing here and/or a big-time free agent. Someone who is a legitimate starter material. Maybe take a run at a free agent like NYRB’s Aaron Long or NYCFC’s Alex Callens?
Nkosi Tafari could also move into the starting rotation and FCD could go into ’23 with two new starting CBs. I’ve been saying N’Kosi should be the starter for at least a year.
FCD should also consider drafting a center back or signing college homegrown. If they miss on Hedges they will need a veteran reserve.
Joshué Quiñónez and Lucas Bartlett had their options declined. Justin Che will almost certainly remain on loan.
Need 3 – Have 3
|Starter||Maarten Paes||International 8.|
|3rd Keeper||Antonio Carrera|
Jimmy Maurer at 34 has some time left. Antonio Carrera will probably get the bulk of the starts at North Texas SC again.
FCD carries 28 to 30 players. 2 or 3 of these spots are already taken.
|Extra 8||Tsiki Ntsabeleng||International 5.|
|Extra LB||Nolan Norris||New Homegrown.|
|Extra 3||Tarik Scott||New Homegrown.|
|Extra 4||Whatever you want.|
|Extra 5||Or leave empty.|
I would expect Nolan Norris and the other new Homegrown Tarik Scott to spend most of 2023 with North Texas SC as will the other new as yet unnamed Homegrown.
So really, there’s at this time only one extra player right now, Tsiki Ntsabeleng.
I’ll have more to say about that last two spots soon.
So for needs, that’s two or three center backs and a free-8. Three or four players to fit my model with two open extra spots.
Burn the 9th international spot at free-8 U-22 or center back.