The North Texas SC season has ended and FCD’s junior club has missed the playoffs for the first time in its history.
Well… sort of the first time.
I mean, not technically, just in reality. Kind of.
I say that because I’m not counting 2020 as a “missed playoffs” when Los Toritos finished 3rd in USL League One during the Covid-shortened season that only had one post-season game, the Championship. Yup, 1 vs. 2, one game. In any normal season, NTX was Top-4 and in the playoffs.
But I digress.
The primary purpose of North Texas SC is to help FC Dallas in whatever way is deemed necessary. Be it player rehab, player development, or Academy progression…
However, the organization does expect results at the MLS Next Pro level. If you doubt that I direct you toward the mid-season firing of Coach Javier Cano.
Potential Coaching Change
The big question is, will Interim Coach John Gall keep the head job?
I don’t see why not. He has a history of development with this organization and had a couple of good results down the stretch, particularly against some rivals, and finished with a 4-3-2 record over his 9 games. That’s a pretty good turnaround.
Odds are in this favor I think.
Predicting North Texas SC Contract Moves
Let’s talk players. Once again we are looking at a pretty significant turnover with FCD’s Next Pro side. That’s part and parcel at this level.
For the purpose of this article, we will be discussing only players under direct contract or loan with North Texas SC and not players who have come down from FC Dallas. Those players are already with FC Dallas, obviously.
Let’s dig in.
FC Dallas Contract
Are there any players we think will get a contract with FC Dallas?
Yes, just one.
Hope Kodzo Avayevu
Hope Avayevu is North Texas’ best player and they have an option on him. That option should for sure be picked up but then FC Dallas should offer him an MLS contract.
Avayevu is mostly a left wing but isn’t a vertical wing, like Bernie Kamungo. Rather, he’s a “false” wing, like Alan Velasco. Yes, that means he can 10 or maybe even free-8 but you won’t see that for a while in MLS I don’t imagine.
The last two seasons, Avayevu has scored 10 goals with 12 assists (he missed about a month and a half with an injury this year).
Here’s what his coach said about him last night.
“Hope is one of those players that I am really proud of this season. I asked him to do a lot of things on and off the ball, I told him to do it and it will all be rewarded. He has gotten great goals and assists which makes him a vital player for us. I am proud of how he ended the season.”North Texas SC’s Interim Head Coach John Gall
Under Contract for 2024
There are a half-dozen players whose contracts run through 2024 or longer. So pending being cut, traded, or some kind of move, these seven players will be with North Texas SC next season.
|Diego Garcia||8/W||Heck yes, promising young talent that is growing and progressing. Love the upside. He’s 16 and already better than much older players. 23 games, 17 starts, 3 goals, and 2 assists mostly as an 8, occasionally a wing. Under contract through ’24 with ’25 option.|
|Dylan Lacy||8/6||“Shaggy” was signed late this summer and played in 3 games with 1 start. He’s one for development and his best days should be ahead of him. Deep playmaker.|
|Malachi Molina||RB||A 16-year-old Academy right back I’ve been tracking on my potential Homegrown list for a while. He signed with North Texas late this season. Molina got a shorter deal than I expected with basically just one year – he doesn’t graduate high school until 2025 – so it seems he will have to prove himself pretty quickly. 6 games, 4 starts in ’23.|
|Diego Pepi||F||The younger brother of El Tren. He came from ECNL to Next Pro and showed a head for goals and impressive willpower (mostly in the Academy since). Like several others here, he signed late in 2023 and is as much about 2024 as anything else. Including time as an amateur, Pepi made 12 short sub appearances for NTX this season with 1 goal in 139 total minutes.|
|Carl Sainte||6||A frequent call-up for the Haitian senior team, Sainte is a key piece for NTX. But I don’t see him as being ready for an MLS contract yet. 2024 will be a big season for him, can Sainte take a step and reach the MLS level? He needs to dominate MLS Next Pro. Perhaps the leading candidate for Los Toritos captain in ’24?|
|Lautaro Taboada||F||A brand new signing with a deal through ’24 and a ’25 option. An interesting young prospect, his former team’s fans are pissed to lose him. Still just getting his feet under him here in Texas. 6 games, 1 start, 186 minutes but hasn’t scored.|
|Alejandro Urzua||8/6||Urzua was high on my Homegrown list when he signed for 2023 with NTX… with no announcement of options or anything else. We believe he has a hybrid contract and is locked up for a time. He was really coming on this year before a late-season injury. If by some chance he has an option instead of a longer deal, pick it up. He’s still just 17 but made 13 starts and 3 sub appearances as a 6 or 8 with 1 goal.|
Pick up the option or not to pick up the option? That is the question.
|Hope Avayevu||Yes/FCD||LW||As mentioned, he’s North Texas’ best player. I think the time has come for him to sign with FC Dallas. Pick him up and then negotiate an FCD deal.|
|Theo Ferreira||No||8/W||Was injured down the stretch run but when he gets on the field he’s not showing anything more than the club is getting from a couple of teens. Foreign players get a short leash in these parts. 21 years old. 10 starts, 10 subs, 1 goal.|
|Thabo Nare||Yes||LB||Keep, I guess? He just recently signed and probably fits in the “really for 2024” thinking even though he’s 20. We’ve yet to see him at all, not even 1 minute, so he’s a rough project at best. Unless he’s just been total trash in training they might as well keep him.|
|Tomas Pondeca||Yes||8/W||Until about a month and a half ago I was a “hard pass” on Pondeca. But not anymore, not since he moved into the middle and started playing as an 8. He’s exploded with the move (or maybe the coaching change) with 4 goals in the last 8 games as a central mid. So even though he’s 21 already, I now think he’s a prospect worth keeping.|
|Tyshawn Rose||Yes||LB||He got injured a month or so back and was ruled out for the season. But Rose showed a great mentality, lots of verticality, and solid defense prior to that. 19 games, 19 starts with 5 assists as a left back. “Keep” all day. Gotta work on the 2 red cards though.|
|Pablo Torre||No||F||From time to time he shows a little something, but his games and goals went down this year. He’s just never been able to establish himself. And now that PT needs to go to some Academy prospects coming through, like Diego Pepi, or the injured and in need of PT, Tarik Scott. 31 games, just 7 starts, but still managed 6 goals and 1 assist. We’ve certainly seen worse.|
|Michael Webber||No||G||Effectively he is a practice keeper. We’ve not seen him play with amateurs getting time before him. No reason to pick him up.|
Out of Contract
Do we think North Texas should retain any of these players?
|Chile Araneda||No||6/D||Chile got more PT in ‘23 than last year but he’s never been able to establish himself in the XI. Time to move on to something else. He’ll be 21 this January.|
|Andre Costa||No||6/LB||The team captain and leader. He’s played the 2nd most minutes at the club this year. But I’m just not seeing enough progression as an 8 although his fill-in play at left back was very valuable. 21 years old and out of contract. He’s a smart player but I think his time is running out here, so good luck to the young man in the USL Championship.|
Did any of the loans perform to a level worth retaining?
|Manuel Caicedo||No||CB||Some size and power but not enough to buy. There are a couple of Academy players I’d rather see get his minutes. 12 games, 9 mediocre starts.|
|Henri Santos||No||CB||He’s played the most minutes for NTX this year and was virtually ever present in the back (26 games, 25 starts, 2,279 minutes, 2 goals). Santos was the best of the foreign players by a long way. I just don’t see enough athleticism for MLS. Yes, athleticism does matter even at center back. So he’s not worth the buy for me.|
|Yeicar Perlaza||No||RB||Hard pass. Mostly a right back but a little wing here and there. Very little value and a series of really poor performances. The team is clearly worse when he’s in. Athletic but just not a good soccer player. 11 starts, 9 subs, and 1 assist.|
It was a big whiff on all the foreign players this year.
Early Roster Look for 2024 North Texas SC
So where does that leave North Texas SC in terms of players under contract for 2024?
Lautaro Taboada – 9
Diego Pepi – 9/W
Hope Avayevu (unless he’s with FCD) – W
Dylan Lacy – 6/8
Carl Sainte – 6
Alejandro Urzua – 8/6
Diego Garcia – 8
Tomas Pondeca – Free 8
Tyshawn Rose – LB
Thabo Nare – LB
Malachi Molina – RB
Retaining eleven players is more than usual for NTX but that’s because there were five signings late this year (Taboda, Pepi, Lacy, Nare, and Molina) that were really for 2024.
Keeping the other five – or six if we include Avayevu – is more in line with the “normal” carryover.