FC Dallas’ SuperDraft failure or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the Homegrowns

The FC Dallas decision to decline the options on Francis Atuahene and Callum Montgomery – the number four overall MLS SuperDraft picks from 2018 and 2019 – underscores the recent FC Dallas draft failures.  These moves highlight the fact the club’s track record in the latter half of this decade is really poor.

I’ve been saying for years now that FC Dallas should trade away pretty much every draft pick they have for TAM/GAM as the success of the FCD Academy makes it very difficult for the club to keep anyone but their very first pick (see Cal Jennings in 2020).

I would make the case the success of the Academy has made it all but impossible for the club to hit on any picks at all due to roster limitations and the declining quality of college soccer.

I’ve come to believe the club would be better off with no picks, more TAM/GAM, and signing both Academy and former Academy (now in college) Homegrowns rather than drafting anyone.

To prove this point – and promoted by a comment from friend of 3rd Degree, Brooke Tunstall – let’s go back and look at the last decade of FC Dallas draft picks judging them as hits and misses for the club. 

I’m going to consider only the first two rounds as anything past that is a total and complete crapshoot with little to no value beyond North Texas SC roster filler. The point being, it would be unfair to call anything past round two a miss.

2020

PickNameHit/MissComments
14Nkosi BurgessMiss – so farStill a work in progress has yet to play in MLS.
17Cal JenningsMissUnsigned by FCD. Scoring at a good rate in USL-C. Just joined Indy Eleven.
40Manuel FerriolMissUnsigned by FCD. Signed with FC Tucson in USL-1.

Bonus: Derek Waldeck taken 66th overall has shown some progress with North Texas SC but I don’t think he’s an MLS level player.

2019

PickNameHit/MissComments
4Callum MontgomeryMissOption declined end of 2020. 
10Johnny NelsonHitOnly 20 games played so I’m maybe being generous calling him a hit, might be a starter for different clubs in MLS.

Bonus: FCD took Dylan Castanheira 88th overall after he was already signed by Atlanta United 2. FCD traded his rights to Inter Miami in January 2020 and he now played for Fort Lauderdale CF – Inter’s developmental team – in USL-1.

2018

PickNameHit/MissComments
4Francis AtuaheneMissOption declined 2020, struggled for PT in USL-C.
11Ema TwumasiMiss – so far.8 career games is not a hit in my book even though he’s still on the FCD roster. has been successful on loan to Austin Bold.
29Mauro CicheroMissUnsigned by FCD. Finally healthy and playing for the Charleston Battery.
34Chris LemaMissUnsigned by FCD.  Played 71 for New York Red Bulls II in USL-C then signed with NYRB for 2020 but was let go at the end of the season.


Bonus: Picks 57 and 80 managed to carve out USL careers: Amer Sasivarevic with OKC Energy and Noah Franke with the Pittsburgh Riverhouds.

2017

PickNameHit/MissComments
18Jacori HayesHitDeemed surplus he was traded to Minnesota United in January 2020 after 38 games with FCD. Still in the league.
37Walker HumeMissSigned by FCD and started 2 games – 4 games is you count USOC – before being let go.  Last played for Orange County SC in the USL-C. Now in real estate.
40Adonijah ReidMissGeneration Adidas but released after two seasons. Signed with Le Harve B in France in 2019.

Bonus: none.

2016

PickNameHit/MissComments
17Ryan HermanMissNever played for FCD.  Currently with Miami FC then Miami FC II. He’s currently a club soccer coach.
33Timo PitterMissPlayed 1 game for FCD. Out of pro-soccer.

Bonus: 45th overall pick Colin Bonner had an amazing Twitter handle – AT ragingbonner.

2015

PickNameHit/MissComments
15Otis EarleMissPlayed one US Open Cup game for FCD in his one season in MLS.

If you’re scoring at home that’s just two hits in the last seven years.

Players who before might have squeaked onto the roster and proven something with time no longer get that luxury.

2014

In the first half of the decade, FC Dallas was much better at drafting with six hits in five years. 

PickNameHit/MissComments
6Tesho AkindeleHit133 games for FC Dallas then traded to Orlando City where he has played 45 more. Career regular season: 37 goals, 10 assists.

Bonus: none.

2013

What a year!

PickNameHit/MissComments
7Walker ZimmermanHitBest defender in MLS… for someone else.
20Ryan HollingsheadHitI mean come on.

Bonus: Kyle Zobeck 26th overall in the Supplemental Draft who was an FCD 3rd keeper, then not, and now is again.

More bonus: Cameron Brown 7th overall in the Supplemental Draft whose career was derailed by injuries. He’s been playing NPSL and indoor soccer in town for years.  TJ Nelson 64th overall in the Supplemental Draft is another semi-pro and indoor player from the local area out of SMU.

2012

PickNameHit/MissComments
11Matt HedgesHitFCD’s all-time leader in minutes, games, and starts. The club’s defensive GOAT.

Bonus: none.

2011

PickNameHit/MissComments
17Bobby WarshawHit32 games for Dallas. Played in fringe Europe for three seasons made more of a name for himself as a commentator.
35Charlie CampbellMiss.Unsigned by FCD.  Played USL Pro with Orlando City.

Bonus: none.

2010

PickNameHit/MissComments
5Zach LoydHitIf not for concussions would be talked about as an all-time club great.  180 games played.
21Andrew WiedemanMissJust 8 games for FCD but went on the play for Toronto FC (36 games), Ottawa Fury (25), and FC Cincinnati (51).

Bonus: 38th overall pick Jason Yeisley played 5 games for Dallas and then had a USL-C career with Pittsburgh Riverhouds and Richmond Kickers. Edson Edward, a 2010 Discovery Pick, played for the Puerto Rico Islanders, FC Edmonton, and the Ottawa Fury in the USL.

Big bonus: 44th overall pick Eric Alexander played 39 games for Dallas and was so good they exposed Dax McCarty instead of him.  Alexander went on to play for Portland Timbers, NY Red Bulls, Montreal Impact, Houston Dynamo, and FC Cincinnati before returning to FC Dallas in 2019.

Conclusion

So what happened after 2014? 

Certainly, the decline in college soccer and the ascendency of the Academy system is a massive factor.

But aside from 2014 – when Coach Oscar Pareja knew Tesho Akindele from when Papi was coaching the Colorado Rapids – the first half of the decade was all Schellas Hyndman with a dash of Barry Gorman. Hyndman is the unifying factor.

Fernando Clavijo became TD in late 2012 with Luiz Muzzi – who was with FCD from 2012 to late 2018 taking over more and more duties as Clavijo became ill. Andre Zanotta was hired as TD in January 2019.

Side note: throw in 2009 and Hyndman also drafted George John and Peri Marosevic.

In other words, in the early half of the decade, FCD had American college coaches who knew how to spot MLS talent in the college ranks. 

So clearly if FCD still wants to draft better, they should hire a US college coach to do domestic scouting.

3 Comments

  1. Big miss on this article; not only has collegiate level dropped – the overall level of MLS has risen.

    2009 building a team 1-11 with 12-15/16 as depth was all that was asked.

    Now 1-18 is used with top 15 being staters just about any team in the league.

    Thinking in the case of a 30 man roster. We used to build the top half while the bottom half (of even used as some teams might only register 25) was considered practice dummies.

    The way league games come and go so fast with extra stuff, I think every team in the league has a useful roster of at least 23 players.

    Point is, bottom end roster spots are very much higher quality now than they were a decade ago.

  2. I can’t believe y’all just signed 2 player from the 98 when they won 2 National Championship in Carson California and y’all not signed for the NTSC i think y’all think care about does boys they did history en the FC DALLAS Academy

  3. I don’t think Dallas is failing at drafting – i think they’re just average now, while they used to be really good at it.

    I would exclude the 2020 draft from evaluation – too recent and the oddity of the season make it too hard to judge the class appropriately.

    From 2015 through 2019 there were 110 first round selections. By my evaluation only 46 of those had a significant amount of MLS games spanning at least two seasons. So that’s a hit rate of only 42%. Furthermore, if you take out the expansion team selection hits (8), that leaves a hit rate of only 38/102 (37%) for non-expansion teams.

    Dallas had 7 selections over those five years with a hit rate of 2/7 (29%). If Twumasi comes good that will rise to 3/7 (43%) which is pretty much in line with the League average for that period. So i think the narrative of Dallas failing at the draft is inaccurate.

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