Should they stay or should they go – predicting FCD roster moves

The FC Dallas season has come to an end and – because of the MLS rules – you can expect roster moves to happen fast.

Specifically, MLS teams, including FCD, are required to announce contract decisions “within one day of being eliminated from the playoffs” as there will be a short window of activity – trades, re-entry draft, etc – following the MLS Cup in preparation for the 2021 expansion draft for Austin FC.

That means the time has come for us to sneak in some roster predictions before FCD makes them.

Big picture, in this crazy season it’s hard to say if this team is better than it was a year ago or not. It is, however, clearly getting older and slower. The offense across the board wasn’t good enough. Plus, the FCD DPs are underperforming and DP performance is a massive factor in MLS success.

If the team is going to get better those trends need to be reversed and some upgrades are needed.

So here’s our list of players – in alphabetical order by section – we think FC Dallas should say “so long” to, a few FCD should consider moving along, and the bulk that FCD should keep.

I’ve added any contract info that I have and filled the rest in to the best of my knowledge.

Note: phone readers may want to turn their phone sideways to read the table.

Thanks, So Long, and Good Luck

It’s time to say goodbye to these five players.

PlayerAgeContract InfoActionThoughts
Francis Atuahene24Contract should be up but with team option(s).Decline option.Generation adidas status probably ends as he’ll be 25 next year. He’s not in Luchi’s plans.  Injuries ruined his time here. Great kid, but his FCD time is up.
Franco Jara32Under contract.DP buyout.Highest paid player on the team plus he’s ageing and slow. He’s also caused distress to the FCD locker room. Despite being their leading scorer, FCD should use a DP buy out on him.
Santiago Mosquera25Likely in last year of original deal.Decline any options and don’t re-sign.His DP salary is too high for his low production. He’s too frequently hurt and rarely match fit. It’s time to go.
Bryan Reynolds19Under contract through 2023 with 2024 option.Sell now!He’s going to be sold this winter and break the club transfer record. Strike while the iron is hot. He’s almost certainly played his last game with FC Dallas.
Reto Ziegler34Contract ends in December.Don’t re-sign. Decline any options.Reto is one of the highest caliber defenders to ever play for Dallas, but he’ll be 35 in January and he’s too old and slow. He’s also one of the highest paid players on the team. It’s time to move on.

Pablo Aranguiz was also on this above “depart” list but FC Dallas already transferred him to U de Chile.

Careful Consideration

But that’s not all the changes. Here are four more players FCD should carefully weigh their options on.

PlayerAgeContract InfoActionThoughts
Bryan Acosta27Probably at least one more year.Consider a trade or sale. But FCD may be stuck with him.An underperforming DP, Acosta has played in only 50% of FCD’s games this season. With Anders Ricaurte playing as the linking 8 and Tessmann’s progress, Bryan Acosta is pretty much surplus to requirements… but he still has value. Sell/trade him if you can.
Michael Barrios29Currently in an option year and has one more for 2021.Decline option. Consider offering a reasonable one year deal.Barrios as a speed player is starting to lose his mojo and he will be 30 in April. One more year as a super-sub is ok if the price is right, but the option probably isn’t. Barrios will want a long term deal to re-sign, avoid that like it’s Covid-19. FCD will likely just pick up the option even though it’s probably not cap friendly.
Bressan27Contract ends, but 2 options. Decline option. Negotiate a pay cut but he’s probably gone.His contract is too expensive for a backup. Left center back needs an upgrade. FCD should offer him a back up level contract… which he painfully won’t take.
Phelipe21Loan ending with option to buy.Consider the buy.It all depends on the price.  This one’s on Andres Zanotta and his calculator. The reported $2.5 mil is a big ask for FCD. Can they sell him for more after the Olympics?

Keep On Keeping On

PlayerAgeContract InfoActionThoughts
Nkosi Burgess23Under contract, probably through 2022 with possible options.Keep.Still a project, either USL-C loan or lots of NTXSC in 2020. There’s upside here worth developing.
Edwin Cerrillo20Probably one more year then 2 options.Keep. The last few games at NTX were really good but we’re going to need to see some progression soon.
Justin Che17Under contract through 2023 with a club option for 2024.Keep.FCD literally just signed him. 17 years old, one for NTX in 2021. This is a “protect the investment” signing.
Jesus Ferreira19Under contract through 2023.Keep.The new-contract-blues struck in 2020 but he’s not going anywhere. Are Ferreira and Pomykal fighting for one starting spot in 2021?
Matt Hedges30Under contract through 2022 with 2 options to 2024.Keep.FCD’s Defensive GOAT and leader. Make him captain (again) in 2021.
Ryan Hollingshead29Under contract through 2021 with 2022 option.Keep.FCD’s emotional leader. I think he should be Co-Captain in 2021.
Jimmy Maurer32Contract is up, I think.Re-sign.He deserves a new deal and a raise.  32 is prime career for a keeper and he just led MLS in GAA and save percentage.
Callum Montgomery23Probably 1 more year plus options.Keep. Is he ready to compete for the starting LCB spot? I think so but does Luchi?
Eddie Munjoma22Under contract through 2022 with 3 club options.Keep.He’ll be in the mix sometime in 2021 after Reynolds is sold. Probably needs a few more games at NTX before he’s ready for MLS.
Johnny Nelson22Probably 1 more year plus options.Keep.A valuable and versatile roster piece who is starter capable.
Ricardo Pepi17Probably 1 more year plus options. (3+2)Keep.Pepi is right on track for where his progression should be. Play him more.
Fafa Picault29New deal to start 2020. I’ll guess it’s through 2022.Keep.Might be the only left wing remaining in 2021 but hasn’t proven he’s the answer. He’s About to turn 30 so a couple seasons left, maybe.
Paxton Pomykal20Under contract through 2023 with 1 option for 2024.Keep.This team needs Pomykal to be healthy as he is a rare difference maker. He will be the difference between the team being average or in the West top 3.
Andres Ricaurte29Loan through 2021 with an option to buy.Buy now.Please buy. Doesn’t turn 30 until October of next year.
Thomas Roberts19Under contract. 1 more year + 2 options for ’22 & ’23.Loan.Keep him under contract. Loan him out for the year with a buy option. He’s not in Luchi’s mix but has too much value to just drop him.
Thiago Santos31Under contract through 2022 with club options for 2023 and 2024.Keep.Has at least one more good year left, maybe two, because his quality isn’t based on athleticism.
Dante Sealy17Under contract two more seasons plus optionsLoan.Sealy needs games, lots of games. Garbage MLS minutes are fine if paired with many NTX games. Consider a loan even if it means giving up right of recall.
Brandon Servania21Out of contract but with 2 club options.Pick up option.Slid down the depth chart a bit but still a quality US Youth International. May see more PT in 2021 depending on roster moves.
Tanner Tessmann19Under contract through 2022 with 2 options.Keep.A spot starter and early off the bench sub. Can he become a lock starter? Might need a “Paxton deal” sooner rather than later.
Ema Twumasi23Initial Contract should be up, but with 2 options.Pick up option. Remember a year or so ago when Coach G talked about Ema playing right back? He’s a cheap’ish back up piece.
Kyle Zobeck30Contract is probably up. Re-sign.Still the best option at 3rd keeper right now.

So after all those moves, what’s next for FC Dallas?

First it’s the 2020 MLS Expansion Draft. We’ll have a protected list “soon.”

Then the build for 2021 starts and we’ll have lots of suggestions for that as well.

Stay tuned.


  1. The age around our supposed youth build has jumped ton from 2019. There’s no one over 25 I wouldn’t listen to offers for. Dps are all bad deals.

    2021 I would strip the team back and look back to the core of home growns. I wouldn’t expect to make the playoffs or even be very good.

    Seeing Jara walk in and stir up crap under a young manager in Luchi was disappointing. Seeing Luchi fail to use Kobra (the epitome of team player) shows he isn’t ready for this level.

    If the squad is stripped back to kids, Luchi has a chance to grow up w them. If we keep aged players, Luchi is doomed by his inexperience.

  2. I will be curious to see how a jam-packed schedule plays into the roster decisions for 2021. It is a blessing and a curse to have so many USMNT-caliber players, especially with World Cup qualifying and the Olympics happening next year.

  3. I don’t understand the desire to buy Ricuarte this offseason. He’ll be here next year regardless, right?

    I realize that, when it comes to soccer, I don’t know much…but buying him means we’re locking him up for his age-30 season and beyond. This doesn’t seem like the type of player FCD can make money on by flipping in a couple years (unless the purchase price makes it a no-brainer). His game isn’t predicated on speed like Barrios, so he should age better…but he’s still an outfield player that should be on the downslope of his career. Barring injury, he’ll definitely be an asset next year (and probably an asset in ’22), but I think Branch Rickey’s maxim about preferring to get rid of a player a year too early rather than a year too late is even more applicable to soccer.

    What am I missing in this calculus?

    1. Only that Ricaurte should be good for more than just next year and his loan expires at the end of it. If you buy him now, you can sign him to a contract that will end one year sooner than if you wait till the end of 2021. That might be the difference between, as you say, right on time or one season too long. Highly doubt he will take a 1-year deal, it probably has to be 3 years. So buy now and sign now. 3 years and he’s 31 at the end of it. Wait a year and then he’s 32 at the end of it.

      1. That makes some sense – I hadn’t considered the length of the next contract. However, it still sounds to me like FCD has the option of keeping him for 2021 and then making a decision on him, or paying him for 3 years (plus a transfer fee) expecting to get 2 good years.

        Does Ricuarte’s loan status impact whether or not he counts as a DP? Or is his salary not high enough to matter for that?

        1. His current salary is unknown. Most loans the club he moves to pays the salary… but not always all (see Aranguiz). Loan vs direct contract doesn’t matter specifically.

  4. More than casual, less than rabid FC Dallas follower question – What is the benefit to selling Reynolds, even for a record fee? FCD never seem to put the proceeds back into the team in a meaningful way. We seem to perpetually be in the bottom 5 of spend. The results of having the most prolific academy seem to be a first or second round playoff exit as teams with higher ceiling players take advantage of our inexperience. As a fan, I take no pride in seeing good players leave to play for other teams, even if it is Juventus.

    I may be wrong on how the money gets spent – does it get put back into the player pool?

    1. FC Dallas the MLS club doesn’t turn a profit. This kind of sale is enough to change that. The Hunts are partially stingy because of the money losses. A large sale like this could mean they are more likely to spend some of it. For most clubs around the world, selling is their main source of revenue. You sell to buy more players. Or fund your academy to make more players. This is the Way.

      Also, this is how soccer works. Unless you are one of the biggest clubs in the world, seeing a player you developed becoming world-class is something to cheer for. Even if it’s just to benefit the USMNT.

      Consider also the benefit to the player. He may go from a $200 salary to a $2 million + salary. Who is FCD to deny him that chance? If they do, the player gets pissed off and quits playing for you. Or he leaves in the middle of the night to Turkey. There are ways he can force a move. It’s better for FCD to capitalize on the profit.

  5. I would agree with everything the article says, with the possible exception of Santos. Not too sure about him at this point.

    I was very disappointed with the departure of Kobra, but FCD really had no choice in the matter.

    We absolutely have to get a quality striker or playmaker on offense. You can’t win if you can’t score!

  6. I would be absolutely shocked if Jara isn’t here next year. That’s disappointing because it blocks Pepi from playing where he needs to play. And it ties up money and a DP spot that could be put to better use (not that I trust the club to do so). Which says nothing of Jara being ineffective and a self-centered primadonna who doesn’t really fit MLS or Luchi’s system.

    But we know that Jara was a Hunt-driven acquisition, and the contract money is a sunk cost, so he’ll be here. And it’ll be justified by saying that he was the leading scorer. While that is accurate, it’s disingenuous. But it’ll be the story the club puts out there.

  7. Re keeping vets like Ricaurte and Santos – you keep those guys because they’re productive, probably on manageable salaries, and they increase the talent level of the team and competition for spots. Are they as critical as a guy like Hedges? No. But the young talent gets better by having competition. Having Santos forces Cerillo to up his game. Having Ricaurte in the mix forces Pax and Tessman and Servania to focus and work hard. FCD’s long-term success will be in finding the right balance of quality, productive veterans and youth on the first team.

  8. I not sure if I’m alone in this opinion but I feel like MLS has a little bit of WWE in it. Why is it that the LA clubs, Atlanta, New York clubs, and the Seattle’s of the world can have deep squads with big DP signings and Dallas is heavily reliant on the Academy to fill out the roster. If it’s a one entity league and everyone else helps front the bill why not go big? Like Rossi, Almiron, J. Martinez, or Ruidiez . It’s like the league kind of wants certain teams to be on top because it produces more profit which I get but it destroys the spirit of a fair competition. Not sure if I’m alone in this but I’ve been very observant since the Beckham rule came to MLS and things just don’t add up. If anyone can afford a big money signing it’s us. We have a bunch of young talent on team friendly HG deals

    1. The core of that… is that the local owner has to pay the amount OVER the DP base of $612k. So the Hunts will sign guys form there up to $1 mil in salary but not over. The clubs you mention, their owners will pay salaries in the millions out of their own pockets.

  9. I keep wondering if a bit of a formation change wouldn’t solve some problems. A 4-man diamond midfield of Santos, Tessman, Ricaurte, and Pomykal seems to solve the logjam there and opens the door to playing some combination of Pepi and Ferreira next to Jara up top. It may not be Luchi’s preference, but barring quality a quality offensive signing, don’t you need to adapt your system to the players you have?

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