The 2019 season has ended and North Texas SC reigns as USL League One Champions. It was a dominant season for NTXSC – first place most of the year, leading scorer, leading assist man, regular-season champions, and playoff champions.
But the season is over and after a short vacation, 2020 training begins in about a week. Decisions are going to start being made quite quickly.
All of which sounds like a great opportunity to break down the North Texas SC roster. Let’s dig into who’s moving up, who’s staying, and who’s moving out.
(Alphabetical order by bracket with current age)
Moving on Up, to the East Side
These first four players should get a serious look for Coach Luchi Gonzalez’s 2020 FC Dallas MLS roster. That should include fall training with the first team starting next week and spring training. Given the level of their performance, USL Championships teams are sure to have been looking. Maye even lower MLS teams or foreign teams. So if these guys don’t make the FCD roster they might get an offer somewhere else.
Ronaldo Damus (20) – You can’t teach speed and there will be some open spots on the FCD roster along the front line. Can Damus take a spot? He’s still pretty raw but it won’t surprise me. The club should keep him and perhaps loan to USL-C, see how that goes. Another season with North Texas won’t be bad, the kid still needs work and coaching.
Brecc Evans (20) – Of these four, I think Evans has the best shot at the MLS roster. He’s been playing right center back for NTX, which is opposite his natural side, and you can’t even tell. Fantastic leader, mature, and a real pro already. FCD needs a center back for depth and Evans would be a perfect fit. I see a homegrown contract in his future.
Alfusainey Jatta (20) – For me, he’s a holding mid with MLS level talent. FCD even needs a pure 6. But I keep hearing chatter from the organization that his future is as a center back. Not sure I like that idea. His best shot may be away from FCD, much to my chagrin.
Arturo Rodriguez (20) – The Man who should be USL-1 MVP. FCD is loaded at his profile though so his best shot may come somewhere else. If he’s with NTX in 2020 he deserves a pay raise given he’s basically on a semi-pro contract. I imagine some USL-C teams will be banging his door down to try and sign him.
Stay, Just a Little Bit Longer
I like what I see, but the time isn’t now. Another year with NTX for you.
Imanol Almaguer (19) – This kid’s future for me is in central midfield, a position he’s only recently started playing, rather than at right back. He needs lots of PT at the 8-spot. Another year in USL-1 is needed.
Carlos Avilez (20) – It’s simple: until he beats out Kyle Zobeck he will be on the USL-1 roster. He should stay focused, keep playing and improving. He’s got a long career ahead as keeper mature later than most players.
Richard Danso (19) – This kid will be an MLS player for sure. Just not this winter. He’s got fantastic skills and is a game-changing player. One more season in USL-1 then it’s on to MLS.
David Rodriguez (17) – Lots of talent, but a ways to go as he’s still just a kid. Needs to mature physically and develop 90-minute game stamina. As he is still a kid, playing against men is good for him. Can he take the reins of this team next season? I might like to see him play some Dallas Cup and other high-level international tournaments with the U19s as well.
Dante Sealy (16) – Technically already an MLS Homegrown. Until he can win a starting job with NTX (which he hasn’t), hold onto said starting job, and dominate USL-1 then he will stay in USL-1.
Win It to Be in It
These three players I don’t believe have an MLS level future. Does that mean they are dismissed? No. not yet. Perhaps they can be developed for a USL-C or mid-level foreign club opportunity. They will have to fight to retain a spot at North Texas SC as youth are coming out of the Academy looking for playing time.
Oscar Romero (23) – Age is a factor here. Romero has shown that he can serve a ball and made a difference in games at the USL-1 level but he’s still mostly a depth piece for North Texas. He’s running out of time at 23 as his developmental window is closing, and the high-pro upside just isn’t showing.
Bicou Bissainthe (20) – Playing the same position as Jatta and Edwin Cerrillo (coming down from MLS) means PT was hard to come by. 7 starts in 16 games. Solid depth piece at this level but maybe not a whole lot more. Can he be developed for sale to someone else? Can he become a starter and be a big piece in 2020? His return may depend on who else needs a roster spot.
Pollo Cortes (26) – The organization obviously trusts Pollo having signed him twice now and they frequently use him in MLS training as an extra keeper. But he only got one game with NTX and at 26 he’s certainly not going to progress much more. Being 5’10” doesn’t help him get looks with other teams. He’ll be around unless FCD decides this spot needs to go to another player… like a SuperDraft pick or Academy keeper.
So Long and Thanks for All the Fish
Pro sports is a tough business. The window in your low 20s is small as new players are always coming along.
Cesar Murillo (23) – While I hear terrific things about his work and attitude the bottom line is that when Coach Quill needed an outside back he went to Academy kids like Kevin Bonilla and Jonathan Gomez. When he needed a center back he usually moved Jatta first. At 23 I think his time’s up.
Héctor Montalvo (21) – Only 3 starts and 5 games total. Again when they needed a center back they usually looked elsewhere. I don’t think another season is in the cards.