Reliable news broke this evening that Ricardo Pepi is on his way to Germany to complete a $20 million move to FC Augsburg in the German Bundesliga. That’s $20 million plus addons if you are scoring at home.
And while most fans won’t begrudge FC Dallas that kind of sale, there are perhaps questions to be asked about the club’s insistence Pepi would be on the Dallas roster during 2022 and the club’s all-Pepi all-the-time-marketing strategy this winter.
Still, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion Pepi would leave by the end of ’22 in any case. Heck, I had conversations with former coach Luchi Gonzalez in the middle of last season about how FCD would replace Pepi this winter. So really, if the club’s new sporting staff had no plans for this scenario and is caught off guard by this sale… well…
Let’s just hope they have a plan.
Alright, let’s talk about the options.
Start Franco Jara
This one’s not ideal in my mind. Franco Jara‘s 7 goals in 29 games last season isn’t great. But that’s 17 sub appearances and just 12 starts.
So given the age – he’ll be 34 in July – that’s an acceptable substitute goal rate. There have been seasons 7 goals led the club in scoring. It’s just the $3 mil per season price tag that’s an issue.
I’m quite certain Jara will be on the roster in 2022 and if he continues to come off the bench that’s fine. Jara starting, other than as a fill-in, isn’t a good idea, I don’t think.
Let’s hope starting Jara isn’t the answer.
Sign a New 9
FC Dallas is about to have a pile of cash on their hands. This is more money to spend in their “money in before out” methodology.
Even with this kind of money, the Hunts believe in spending on long-term sustainability, not players. Infrastructure, yes. Academy program, yes. Hall of Fame, yes.
Buying players? Not so much.
So don’t expect the Hunts to drop 10 to 15 mil on a hot young striker.
But might they go after a striker in the market? Yes, I think they will. This club believes in buying players cheaper and younger. Buy low, sell high.
Look at past successes like Fabian Castillo, Mauro Diaz, even Michael Barrios. Szabolcs Schön fits this same profile and Phelipe was supposed to.
Unfortunately, FCD’s percentage of successes isn’t great here. I do think they will target someone this way and hopefully said player will contribute to the team this year. But we should think of this player as mostly a backup at this point, in all probability.
You can include drafting a striker in this section. FCD is picking 6th overall.
Look to the Academy
Once again the FC Dallas Academy has come good. This is the FC Dallas bread and butter. So are there some strikers worth looking at in the Academy?
Yes, but not someone that will help FC Dallas this season or even next. There are currently three strikers – all in the U17 bracket by age – that I think have MLS potential. But they aren’t going to be banging in goals with the first team in 2022 and none of them is Ricardo Pepi.
Nighte Pickering (2005), Tarik Scott (2005), and Nayrobi Vargas (2006) all three have pro-potential but all have flaws to overcome and none are sure-fire hits. They are all two to three seasons away from potentially helping the club. Maybe even longer. We’re talking about 15 and 16-year-olds. Banging in goals at 18 isn’t the norm.
Jesus the False-9
This is, I think, the answer.
Jesus Ferreira has played some false-9 for FC Dallas in the past, most successfully in 2019. And when we see him with the US Men’s National team – the place his brand new club coach came from – he’s played as a false-9 as well.
So this is the move to replace Pepi that has the highest chance to succeed… because we’re seen it succeed already.
Most people believe Coach Nico Estevez prefers a 4-3-3 anyway so Jesus was going to need to shift positions to a certain extent. Therefore, moving Ferreria to the 9 makes lots of sense. In the 4-3-3 you don’t really use the 10 or off-striker that Ferreira was playing in 2021. Instead, it uses a double-8 look.
The move to the 4-3-3 with Ferreira as a 9 also facilitates moving Paxton Pomykal back into the middle of the park and that’s another win, even if FC Dallas does go out and look for an 8.
So really, the likely scenario is a combination of the above. Ferreira to the false-9, bring a youngish striker from South American in their usual style, with a little Jara here and there. Maybe a Homegrown striker later this year or next winter.
Pending other new signings – and remember FCD now has 11 open roster spots – here’s what an XI would look like in the 4-3-3 if they had to play a game tomorrow.