FC Dallas sends Badji to Nashville

After a social media post by Dominique Badji gave the appearance of ‘saying goodbye’ to FC Dallas, the team has confirmed that the forward has been traded to expansion side Nashville SC.

The new Western Conference rival is sending $150,000 in General Allocation Money and $175,000 in Targeted Allocation Money. There is also an additional $75,000 in GAM pending performance targets.

Dominique Badji
Dominique Badji, 2019. (FC Dallas)

Badji, 27, arrived from the Colorado Rapids in July 2018 as part of a trade for Kellyn Acosta after the Homegrown midfielder expressed a desire to leave FC Dallas. FC Dallas gained Badji, and international roster spot, and exchanged 2019 MLS SuperDraft picks with the Rapids. Colorado also picked up FC Dallas’ second round pick. Dallas selected Callum Montgomery with the fourth overall pick acquired from Colorado, while the Rapids used the second round pick to secure Clint Irwin’s return from Toronto FC.

The Senegalese forward was another band-aid fix for the number nine spot, something that has plagued FC Dallas since Blas Perez’s departure in 2015. Arriving with fourteen games to play, and on seven goals from his time with Colorado, Badji failed to reach double figures by the end of the 2018 season.

A phenomenal preseason gave the impression that Badji could be the 15-goal striker that FC Dallas has been searching for as he scored six times, but with competitive MLS defenses ahead both the service and finishing dried up. A hamstring injury put an end to Badji’s early season run at striker, as his came in to replace another preseason hopeful in Santiago Mosquera on the left wing.

To some Badji was a marked man from day one. Although Kellyn Acosta wanted out of Dallas for personal reasons, Badji was never an equal talent and could never be the fan favorite that Acosta was as the face of FC Dallas’ first youth movement. His early games were typical of a player in a new system, making the right runs for the wrong passes.

The shift from Oscar Pareja’s counter attack to Luchi Gonzalez’s Luchi-ball seemed to favor Badji. He was on the same page as his midfielders, and Gonzalez’s instruction to wingers to cross low into the six yard box left no vague point about where Badji should be running to. Preseason was a roaring success as Badji and Mosquera stepped up to the level of production of Michael Barrios, but neither player could sustain it.

Badji has been efficient in front of goal for FC Dallas but getting in positions to score from has proven itself to be more than a teething problem in those early games. His six goals came at a rate of 6.8 shots per goal, which is similar to Diego Rossi, Raul Ruidiaz and Kei Kamara. Taking the 5-3 win over Minnesota United for example. Badji started at the nine spot, but only touched the ball four times inside the Loons’ area to produce two of Dallas’ 20 shots. His lone multi-goal game for FC Dallas came in the 3-0 win over Toronto in June. Only three touches inside the Toronto box, two goals, a blocked shot, and a wide effort from 25 yards.

Dallas had already brought in Fafa Picault from the Philadelphia Union for $300,000 in GAM, who like Badji can play both the lone striker and wing roles. Picault is more a winger first, which should leave Dallas still in the market for a striker to challenge Zdenek Ondrasek now that Jesus Ferreira has taken a deeper role.

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