The 2019/20 Developmental Academy season is right around for the corner. For the FC Dallas U19s it all kicks off on August 31st against the Houston Dynamo.
It’s going to be a really interesting season for the FC Dallas U19s for two reasons.
One, the U19 side just got gutted by age and high school graduation. The new team – made up of a few U19s from last season and a bunch of U17s who are moving up age brackets – is really, really young with potentially only six 2001s returning for a second U19 season. This young team is partially due to the current FCD model of signing players out of the Academy.
And two, FCD’s professional development side, North Texas Soccer Club, will be pulling massively on the U19s. Heck, North Texas SC all but runs a U20 team in USL League One. By my count 10 or more of this season’s hypothetical U19s have already played for North Texas SC.
Point two may actually exacerbate point one as three of the returning six 2001s will probably be with NTXSC more than the 19s.
So just who are we going to see with the U19s this season? Good question, and we’ll get to it in just a minute.
First, let’s look at the losses.
Who’s gone from the U19s
Aging out of the program by being born in the year 2000 are ten players. The key ones are Edwin Cerrillo (an FC Dallas Homegrown – he’d already been gone from 19s since January), Imanol Almaguer (signed with NTXSC on Wednesday), Chris Fuentes (Northern Illinois), and a player who did a ton of heaving lifting for the 19s this last season, Joel Bustamante (college commitment or plans unknown).
Six more players, despite being 2001s, were in their high school graduating year and are likely heading to play college ball. The key ones are center back Judson Burns (Clemson), midfielder Luis Hernandez (Northern Illinois), left back Julian Hinojosa (UNC), and goalkeeper Michael Collodi (Columbia).
Update: I heard from DA Central Conference Player of the Year Johan Gomez. He’s staying in Dallas and playing for the U19s and North Texas SC this season. His commitment to Portland is for the fall of 2020. So I am editing this post to reflect that.
So who is going to be playing for the U19s?
The 2019/20 FC Dallas U19s
Amazingly, Bryan Reynolds and Thomas Roberts are both still eligible for the U19s in 2019/20. I know, hard to fathom, isn’t it? Both are progressed enough with FCD I don’t see them joining the 19s at all. If they need playing time they can join North Texas for a game.
Perhaps even more remarkably, Ricardo Pepi and Dante Sealy are both Homegrowns who could still have another season as U17s and then two more with the 19s. Pepi is already getting PT with FCD and Sealy is on full-time loan to North Texas SC. With Pepi, I don’t see him playing with the U19 outside of maybe the Dallas Cup, but if Sealy isn’t playing for NTX he’s an option to drop down to the 19s.
Aside from the four players listed above there is one other player who is U19 eligible and has a North Texas SC contract: David Rodriguez. D-Rod plays in USL League One but he still popped down to play with the U17s this year for big tournaments. That could, and should, continue with the U19 this season as he is still developing.
Next on the list are two players I would like to see signed to Homegrown contracts with FCD for the 2020 season and maybe even USL deals earlier. Tanner Tessmann and Jonathan Gomez. These two will spend more time with North Texas SC than the U19s this fall as they are already first-choice players for Coach Eric Quill. They could, of course, still see some DA play.
Like Pepi and Sealy, 15-year-old Gomez could be a U17 again, but if he plays any Academy this fall it will be up with the U19s.
Right there with Tessmann and Gomez is another player I want to see on a Homegrown deal – eventually – Kevin Bonilla. He too is a first-choice player for Coach Quill. I would suggest for FCD to make him a Homegrown for 2020 but there’s two reasons not too: Reggie Cannon and Bryan Reynolds. Both are ahead of him at right back. So for now, I want to see Bonilla on a USL deal until FCD sells either Cannon or Reynolds then they should sign Bonilla to a Homegrown deal and move him to FCD.
Update: Given the new info that John Gomez is staying in town to play with the U19s and North Texas SC, I’m adding him to my list of players I would consider for a USL-1 contract with North Texas. All he does is score goals and that’s a commodity that FC Dallas needs and is worth investing in.
After the above big three are a group of players who have played for North Texas SC but should still be with the U19s more often than not. Returning U19 Gibran Rayo (F/M – 6 games with NTX) and three U17s moving up Nico Carrera (CB), Cristian Escribano (RB), and Michael Sosa (F/M). All three have played one game each with NTX already.
Sosa is a particularly interesting story, in just over a season, he went from playing for FCD Premier to the FCD U17s Academy (14 goals in 26 games) and this summer at 17 he trained with and then played for North Texas SC. That’s remarkable progression.
And then there are a handful of players who have been listed for North Texas but haven’t played yet. Two returning U19s – Beni Redzic (F/M) and Zach Schawl (GK) – and two new U19s – Diego Letayf (DM) and Seth Wilson (GK).
There is one returning U19 starter at center back, Nathan Toledo, that has not been in the NTX mix that I’m aware of. Toledo has graduated high school committed to play at Columbia, but he’s an ’01 and has chosen to take a “gap year” to stay and play with the U19s for another season before heading to college.
Also, there are some players from the U17 moving to the U19s where they should be either some-time or full-time starters. Camilo Estrada (D), Cesar Garcia (M), Diego Maynez (F/M), and Jesus Veloz (D). With some progression at the U19 level and these guys could put themselves into the NTX discussion.
And finally a group of role players for the 19s who play anywhere from quite a bit to not all that much. Malik Henry-Scott (F), Brian Aguilar (M), Ayden Nocus (F), Zaki Obafemi-Carpenter (M), Rafael Pinzon Corral (M), Jack Waterman (GK), and Joey Perryman (F).
Don’t forget, FC Dallas almost always brings in one or two “seniors” for one final year in the Academy like Joel Bustamante this last season and Ronaldo Damus the season before. We have no idea who that might be for FCD this year. Also, a player or two might have left the program that I’m not yet aware of. That does happen from time to time in the Academy.
So here’s my 2019-20 U19s roster projection by position.
Starters – Johan Gomez, Beni Redzic, Gibran Rayo, Michael Sosa, Diego Maynez
Reserves – Malik Henry-Scott, Ayden Nocus, Joey Perryman
Maybe, But Not Much – Dante Sealy
Starters – Tanner Tessmann, David Rodriguez, Diego Letayf, Cesar Garcia,
Reserves – Brian Aguilar, Zaki Obafemi-Carpenter, Rafael Pinzon Corral
Starters – Nico Carrera, Nathan Toledo, Kevin Bonilla, Jonathan Gomez
Reserves – Cristian Escribano, Camilo Estrada, Jesus Veloz
Starters – Seth Wilson, Zach Schawl
Reserves – Jack Waterman
What if ALL the FC Dallas Homegrowns played DA?
And just for fun, what might the U19s look like if FC Dallas didn’t have a developmental, sign and play teenagers in MLS philosophy? What if they had everyone already signed to FCD contracts playing U19 ball?
I mean honestly, that’s just a nutso lineup. Virtually every single player a pro-projection or already a pro.
And the bench would be half pro prospects too: Johan Gomez, Beni Redzic, Gibran Rayo, Michael Sosa, Diego Maynez, Cesar Garcia, Kevin Bonilla, Camilo Estrada, Cristian Escribano, Jesus Veloz, and Zach Schawl.
This is what I mean when I say the Academy isn’t first about winning. It’s about developing and signing players for MLS. If it were about winning then these guys would all be playing in the U19s and steamrolling the DA.