FCD/NTX Roster Rankings – March 14, 2020

If you weren’t with us on the Dallas Morning News site (we won’t hold it against you!), we regularly ranked every single player with an FC Dallas or North Texas SC contract because power rankings are fun.

It’s a completely subjective look at the 47 players signed to FC Dallas and its USL League One affiliate. We take into account who is playing well, who is playing at all, who is making moves on the practice field, who’s being talked about by the media, and whose name is on the fans’ lips.

How regularly we will rank players going forward in 2020 will depend on players being allowed to practice and play again, but let’s catch up on the year so far!

Starting XI:

1 (-)Thiago Santos
High: 1 | Low: 1
What a signing Santos appears to be. Everything Carlos Gruezo was and potentially more.  The defensive side we knew about, the offensive skills are a pleasant bonus. Passing at an 80% clip with an astounding 4.5 dribbles per game. – Buzz Carrick
2 (-)Zdenek Ondrasek
High: 2 | Low: 2
Kobra carried on as he ended 2019, with a goal in each of the opening home games. Can he stay in form? Can he do it on the road? Also, he just got an awesome FC Dallas tattoo! – Dan Crooke
3 (-)Michael Barrios
High: 3 | Low: 3
Has carried over his form from 2019 without skipping a beat, Mr. Reliable is at it again. A staggering 4 key passes per game in 2020! No assists yet, that may be a question of his teammates not finishing more than anything. – Buzz
4 (-)Reggie Cannon
High: 4 | Low: 4
Picked up an assist for the first goal last week. Reggie still needs to work on his attacking game in how and when he runs, but his in-game adjustments in both games have been positive. The US coaches have identified Reggie as one of the leaders in that Olympic team. – Dan
5 (-)Paxton Pomykal
High: 5 | Low: 5
The biggest FCD difference maker so far in 2020, even if it’s just off the bench.  Still pushing his game fitness, appears to have taken the starting spot going into the NYCFC game prior to the suspension of play. – Buzz
6 (-)Tanner Tessmann
High: 6 | Low: 6
The Grown Ass Man went from a college player to a would-be Man of the Match in an MLS game in a short period. A second strong game followed with 96% passing out of the midfield. He’s got to put the defensive and attacking sides together as Servania and Acosta get back into contention. – Dan
7 (-)Matt Hedges
High: 7 | Low: 7
The rock of the FC Dallas defense and in 2020 FCD’s best defender without question.  86% passing, 2.5 tackles, 2.5 interceptions, and 5.5 clearances per game – all four stats lead the Huntsmen. – Buzz
8 (-)Fafa Picault
High: 8 | Low: 8
Fafa was targeted by Philly in the home opener as both a former player and a threat. The balance he brings can easily go unnoticed but has been crucial. The next step is getting involved in goals. – Dan
9 (-)Ricardo Pepi
High: 9 | Low: 9
All-Aboard!!  Choo Choo!! El Tren has left the station with his first career MLS goal. This is the first step on the track to greatness.  – Buzz
10 (-)Ryan Hollingshead
High: 10 | Low: 10
A strong first game, but Luchi shouldn’t have broken that rule about training on Wednesday. Ho’head looked rusty or still struggling with the hyperextended knee, either way he just wasn’t effective. – Dan
11 (-)Jesse Gonzalez
High: 11 | Low: 11
So far so good in 2020, although there does seem to be a slight slip in passing from last year.  Small sample size but 78% passing in 2020 (2 home games) compared to 82% at home last year. That’s a big drop considering one of the teams played a low block. – Buzz

In The Mix:

12 (-)Callum Montgomery
High: 12 | Low: 12
Montgomery got his USL-C loan and plenty of time with FC Dallas in preseason. He was named Man of the Match in his San Antonio debut with a goal. He also dictated things with the most passes by any SAFC player – Dan
13 (-)Reto Ziegler
High: 13 | Low: 13
I continue to be worried about Reto in 2020. He’s not handling pace well, particularly in the gap between himself and Hollingshead.  The mental side of the game was always his strong suit, but he may be losing a step at 34. – Buzz 
14 (-)Jesus Ferreira
High: 14 | Low: 14
Two games to forget for Jesus. We mentioned on the pod that Luchi protected Jesus in the media presser when Peter asked about his performances. His strength as a 10 is his runs, and when those aren’t working, he doesn’t have much of a passing game to fall back on. – Dan
15 (-)Bryan Acosta
High: 15 | Low: 15
Acosta was looking solid this spring prior to his appendicitis.  Back in training this week he seems to be the first-choice 8 and would have started at NYCFC prior to the hiatus. Will that still be the case in a month?  – Buzz
16 (-)Bressan
High: 16 | Low: 16
With Reto falling off a little so far, is Bressan potentially the key beneficiary? The 3-5-2 option certainly puts Bressan in a stronger position in needing the extra center back. – Dan
17 (-)Brandon Servania
High: 17 | Low: 17
Coming out of the tail end of 2019 he had taken over as the starting 8.   Made his US senior debut over the winter and was going gangbusters this spring before spraining his knee against LAFC. Can he regain his top form? – Buzz
18 (-)Francis Atuahene
High: 18 | Low: 18
I’ve always thought this kid had something, he was clearly ahead of Twumasi when drafted but has had a brutal 2 seasons with injuries and setbacks.  Seems to have found a home in San Diego, performing well in the spring and then scoring a brace in their season opener. Hopefully the Covid-19 break doesn’t kill his momentum. – Buzz
19 (-)Johnny Nelson
High: 19 | Low: 19
Nelson should have started at left back against Montreal with Ryan Hollingshead injured. The fact that Luchi went with an injured player concerns me as to how much of that was a vote of no confidence in Nelson. – Dan
20 (-)Bryan Reynolds
High: 20 | Low: 20
In training and scrimmages he seems to have positioned himself as Reggie Cannon’s replacement. Yet in games, Bressan still seems to get the call.  Is Reynolds the guy when Reggie is sold or not? The next 4 months could decide his career trajectory – back to USL or to MLS and beyond? – Buzz

Second Team:

21 (-)Jimmy Maurer
High: 21 | Low: 21
There’s not a whole lot to say on Jimmy. Jesse Gonzalez is playing well, Zobeck isn’t pushing him out of the 18. He’s a great locker room presence either way. – Dan
22 (-)Arturo Rodriguez
High: 22 | Low: 22
Got the USL Championship move he needed, to an FCD rival no less.  Started in a 1-0 RSL Monarchs loss to San Antonio FC; had 61% passing, 3 tackles, and 2 FKs won but no shots. – Buzz
23 (-)Pablo Aranguiz
High: 23 | Low: 23
Pablo is having himself a time in Chile. He played in Olympic qualifying for Chile as a left winger. Four goals and two assists in his first four games this season. He doesn’t have a future in Frisco, but maybe he can earn a decent fee from someone. – Dan
24 (-)Santiago Mosquera
High: 24 | Low: 24
A trajectory going the wrong way?  Only 28 minutes played in 2020, frequently missing from training with small injuries here and there. 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 key passes, 0 dribbles, and virtually no impact so far. – Buzz
25 (-)Ema Twumasi
High: 25 | Low: 25
Back in Austin, Twumasi started on the left wing in Bold’s opening game. 70% passing in the opposition half is a solid number, but he wasn’t able to get in the box and create chances. – Dan
26 (-)Juan Manuel Alvarez
High: 26 | Low: 26
The stunning surprise of the North Texas Soccer Club offseason. A smooth linking-8 on a 1-year loan from Monterrey CF.  He’s made such a strong impression, FCD took him to Florida and he’s frequently in FCD training. FCD may seek his permanent transfer sooner rather than later.  – Buzz
27 (-)Kyle Zobeck
High: 27 | Low: 27
GOATbeck needs to start pushing Maurer for the bench FCD spot. He’s come so far in a couple of seasons, but being the Man of the Match in the USL-1 championship needs to be AN achievement rather than THE achievement. – Dan
28 (-)Dante Sealy
High: 28 | Low: 28
This has been the breakthrough winter for Dante with every team he plays for.  4-goal games for the FCD U19s, impactful performances for NTX, and US U20 camps so good he gets a one day invite to train with the USMNT.  He’ll make his MLS debut soon. Count on it. – Buzz
29 (-)Thomas Roberts
High: 29 | Low: 29
Arkansas’ greatest soccer player has slipped a little. He needs to develop a defensive game, modern soccer requires you to be effective on both sides of the ball. He’s probably frustrated by not playing for FC Dallas but that should be an incentive to develop and earn that Bayern move. – Dan
30 (-)Alex Bruce
High: 30 | Low: 30
Signed from the Lansing Ignite after the club folded, scored 3 goals and 2 assists in 23 games with 12 starts in 2019.  Proved to be a prototypical-9 in spring NTX camp and seems to have taken over as the first choice 9 for Quill’s side. – Buzz

In Reserve:

31 (-)Anders Engebretsen
High: 31 | Low: 31
Engebretsen got the start against SMU, but Ronaldo Damus just got into town last week and may be your everyday left winger with Alex Bruce starting up front. We’re definitely seeing more from the Norwegian than in early preseason when I didn’t think he was getting a contract offer of any kind. – Dan
32 (-)Edwin Cerrillo
High: 32 | Low: 32
Edwin’s confidence is in crumbles, but there is still everything here that saw him signed as a Homegrown out of the Academy and starting early in 2019 when he was last year’s Tessmann.  Starting with a poor U20 showing he’s basically regressed. He probably needs a long run of successful starts for North Texas to get his mojo back. – Buzz
33 (-)Nkosi Burgess
High: 33 | Low: 33
Burgess’ rapid rise has been a joy to witness. He’s got to be this year’s Callum Montgomery – starting every game for NTXSC and constantly improving. – Dan
34 (-)Carlos Avilez
High: 34 | Low: 34
His solid, if unspectacular, play continues for Los Toritos.  It’s a bad sign he didn’t get the playoff call last year and NTX brought in another keeper to challenge him.  2020 is a massively important year for Avilez, probably a career make or break season. – Buzz
35 (-)Eddie Munjoma
High: 35 | Low: 35
Eddie got the start against SMU. Munjoma has had a couple of hiccups in preseason. We know he’s well rounded attacking full back and when USL-1 eventually starts, he should pick up a decent number of assists. – Dan
36 (-)Brecc Evans
High: 36 | Low: 36
NTXSC’s captain in 2019 and the anchor of the defense. Moved up to USL-C on loan to Austin Bowl to take on a bigger challenge. Showed well enough in the spring but didn’t see action in the season opener.  It may take him some time to break into the Bold’s defense. – Buzz
37 (-)Gibran Rayo
High: 37 | Low: 37
A highly skilled player who is quick and darting, but has yet to figure out how to impact the game, or lock down a starting NTX spot.  Frequently invited to FCD training as he can handle the pace and has the skill to keep the play up. – Buzz
38 (-)Ronaldo Damus
High: 38 | Low: 38
USL-1’s leading scorer but for the most part his game remains an over the top threat.  The loan deal that was lined up for him this winter fell through so he returns to Frisco… where he may have lost the starting 9 job. – Buzz
39 (-)David Rodriguez
High: 39 | Low: 39
We expected to see D.Rod take the next step and take charge of games. He got a couple of preseason invites for FC Dallas, but there hasn’t necessarily been much of an advancement. We’ll see as the season goes but a quiet half as the advanced playmaker doesn’t bode well. – Dan
40 (-)Alisson
High: 40 | Low: 40
Signed to be a 6 and has played center back as well. Hasn’t so far looked great in either position.  The foot speed might be a little lacking, but the hard nose ball dogging hitter seems to be there. PT may be scarce with Cerrillo taking his spot in home games at least. – Buzz
41 (-)Derek Waldeck
High: 41 | Low: 41
We’re seeing Waldeck – primarily a defensive midfielder – used at left back. He’s a smart player, but not athletic enough at full back. He’s getting abused by lower-level wingers and Luchi isn’t looking for a long term project. – Dan
42 (-)Luis Zamudio
High: 42 | Low: 42
Early signs show terrific athleticism and some shot stopping ability.  Right now he’s 2nd choice to Avilez. Same age as Avilez, this could be a battle to watch. – Buzz
43 (-)Philip Ponder
High: 43 | Low: 43
Signed out of SMU without much hype but starts the season as the other center back next to Nkosi Burgess, for now.  Can he hold off the challenge from Lamar Batista and Academy U17 Justin Che (when healthy)? – Buzz
44 (-)Imanol Almaguer
High: 44 | Low: 44
A versatile former Academy player who can slot in at either outside back position as well as in the midfield 6/8 roles. Imanol’s future is as a linking 8, I believe, but he’s slipped down the chart a little with new acquisitions, namely Juan Manuel Alvarez.  – Buzz 
45 (-)Oscar Romero
High: 45 | Low: 45
Romero didn’t feature against SMU. He’s been playing for Mesquite Outlaws in MASL, with five goals in nine games. It was a surprise to see him retained by NTX. – Dan
46 (-)Pedrinho
High: 46 | Low: 46
A typical Brazilian style right back but hasn’t shown the smooth feet and dribbling one might expect.  Currently 3rd choice behind Bryan Reynolds and Ediie Monjuma, the latter of whom will get the majority of the NTX starts. Pedrinho might not even have been signed if Kevin Bonilla were interested in a USL-1 deal.  – Buzz
47 (-)Lamar Batista
High: 47 | Low: 47
The newest North Texas signing, we know very little about him yet. Brought in as a left center back, he can play outside back in a pinch.  Big and athletic but he starts at the bottom of this list until we learn more. – Buzz

No surprises there, Thiago Santos has made the MLS Team of the Week bench both weeks. If you listen to the pod, we’ve fawned over the Brazilian defensive midfielder for what he’s doing on both sides of the ball.

We usually highlight the biggest slides and jumps in the order, but the largest change from last season is certainly Santiago Mosquera. In preseason he was little more than a body in place of players who were injured or in national team camps. If you were keeping count from last season, he’s dropped 14 places, directly below two players who have played his same position while out on loan.

Think we hit the nail on the head, or bashed our thumbs instead? Let us know!

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