Summer Strategy 2024 – How FC Dallas should attack the next window

The secondary MLS window – a.k.a. the summer window – opens for MLS on July 18th. Ordinarily, this is when the Burn might try to land a player to push them over the top and deep into the playoffs.

But FC Dallas isn’t having that kind of a season. The odds are long they can recover to make the playoffs as they have 12 games left (at the time of this post) and likely need 21 more points. That’s 7 wins in 12 games with only 6 home games. FCD is winless on the road in 2024. That’s a rough row to hoe.

So instead, FC Dallas should enter this window thinking long term, thinking about next season.

That might be a little harder than usual with just an interim coach in place. One who, according to FC Dallas, is getting the full coach’s share of input into the player-personnel decisions.

But that is for them to work out, not us. We will just be giving them unsolicited advice about how to navigate the waters of the window.

So here’s our plan

Go for a Center Back

Unless you are brand new here, you will have been hearing us talk about the need for a center back for years. This has been and remains a long-term need. All everyone in the media, local or national, talks about with FC Dallas, is adding a center back.

In many ways, this is the bigger window, even though it’s the second window in the season. There are more players available with more talent because it aligns with most of the other nation’s windows. This is the window that saw Asier Illarramendi arrive last year.

Omar Gonzalez is 35. Sebastien Ibeagha is 32. Both are journeymen and on the downhill run of their careers. They should be backups moving forward.

Nkosi Tafari is 27 and in the prime of his career. He deserves an elite starter next to him, preferably a left-footed one.

Since Tafari is aggressive and physical, perhaps an elite game reader and stay-at-home home defender who can cover up would be in order? Someone like Reto Ziegler, perhaps? Perhaps a player in their late 20s and not mid-30s?

Reto Ziegler proudly walks off the FC Dallas training field with the championship trophy in hand after his team won the 6-man small side competition at the end of training. (9-25-19)(3rd Degree / Buzz Carrick)
Reto Ziegler proudly walks off the FC Dallas training field with the championship trophy in hand after his team won the 6-man small-side competition at the end of training. (9-25-19) (3rd Degree / Buzz Carrick)

Yes, this won’t be a cheap addition. But if you want to compete at the top of this league, this is the kind of talent that is necessary. The club should have the wherewithal, cap room, and ability to add a player of this stature.

No, this player can’t be a DP. Dallas has three of those unless it sells Jesus Ferreria, but that’s quite unlikely at the moment.

You can see in our Roster Dance that Paxton Pomykal being on the season-ending injury list opens an important senior roster spot. The sale of Jose Mulato opens a (very important) international spot and a (not so important for this) U-22 Initiative spot.

This hypothetical center back signing has to be a TAM/GAM type signing – of which Dallas currently has three including Pomykal. We’re talking about a player in a salary cap range around $900k or $1 mil that the club can buy down. That’s the cap slot Jose Antonio Martinez used to occupy.

This season the cap hit for such a player would only be half the full season load. You can even use Pomykal’s cap space on this player for 2024 if necessary.

Get it right and this is a center back for the next four-plus seasons.

One New Tool – Maybe

It’s been reported in a couple of places that some roster rule changes might happen in MLS midseason, or perhaps more accurately with the summer window.

One of the rules being bandied about is a 2nd contract buyout. Something that might prove useful.

The FCD front office types need to be taking a long hard analysis of their roster heading into 2025. Not for now, for 2025. Ask the tough question, is there a salary they need to get out of? Is there some dead weight? How much? Is one buyout enough or do I need two or three?

Sure, FCD would, in theory, get two more buyouts next year. But who knows if they might both be needed? If the club is getting a buyout that is good from now till November only, then FCD might need to go ahead and use it. It’s effectively an expiring buyout.

So if FCD is absolutely, 100% sure they have a dead contract they need to get out of now for 2025, then go ahead and buy it out. Or if FCD needs just that little bit more money to get the center back signed? Go ahead.

I have three or four players in mind, I’m sure you all do too. A bought-out player might be happier to go now in this window when they can find a gig than waiting till January when it’s harder.

Other than the aforementioned center back, once they clear any buyout money, Dallas should just sit tight. Don’t spend the cap room just cause you can. Hold it for 2025.

Don’t clear the deck just to clog it again.

Replace Paxton Pomykal

Ever since Paxton Pomykal went out for the year, we, and people around the club, have been talking about replacing him.

And until Nico Estevez was fired, I agreed with that.

But a month later, I think FC Dallas had already found Pomykal’s 2024 replacement… in Sebastian Lletget.

Sebastian Lletget fights off a defender vs Real Salt Lake, May 25, 2024. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)
Sebastian Lletget fights off a defender vs Real Salt Lake, May 25, 2024. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)

Sitting deep next to Illarramendi, Lletget is now playing the best soccer of his Dallas career. He has earned full-time starter status and deserves to be playing. So ride with that.

If all goes well medically, Pomykal will be back next year. So will his salary. Unless they know for a fact that Pomykal’s career is over, don’t go chasing 2024 with 2025 money. But from what they have told us, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Wait and see, you can burn the Pomykal bridge next spring.

If FC Dallas feels they must get a midfield body – and I’m not convinced they do – then sign Diego Garcia from North Texas SC, he’s a fantastic young talent. That’s something I think the club will do this winter anyway even though he can’t be a Homegrown (based on my read of the rules).

Just move the time frame up on Garcia. You can effectively swap him with one of the homegrown who is playing down at NTX. Garcia is Los Toritos’ best player. FCD can even just wait and do an emergency signing if necessary. Garcia can fill in a few games here or there.

Don’t handicap 2025 to fix a short-term 2024 problem. The season is blown already anyway.


Yes, Seriously. That’s it. Wait. The 2024 point gap to a playoff spot is too big.

Even if/when Govane Jesus and Alan Velasco return, even if it’s this week, it’s not likely to get them 7 wins in 12 games. Jesus Ferreira should return. Liam Fraser should return. Patrickson Delgado should return. That’s five important players.

And if all those returns do kick off a win-7-of-12 kind of run? Sweet, playoffs!!! FCD will be the hottest team in MLS.

But don’t screw up 2025 to chase a crap 2024.

Don’t try to fill the Pomykal hole in midfield with some big player and crush next year’s cap before you get there.

Don’t use the open U-22 Initiative just cause you can. You might need it for Patrtickon Delgado if that buy happens… or for someone else in 2025 perhaps.

We keep hearing this is a playoff roster right? Don’t be digging a bigger hole and tossing piles of dirt onto 2025 just to chase a longshot 2024. Don’t dig the hole deeper while you’re standing in it.

Wait for the winter.
Wait for the new coach, even if it turns out to be Peter Luccin.
Wait and let the new coach dictate the direction of the rebuild.

This roster needs a lot of work and a bunch of moves will need to be made to fix it. It’s too old, out of balance, and wonky. It will need to be aligned with the new coach’s vision. There’s no need to chase all that now.

We’ll dig into 2025 in another 3 to 4 months anyway.

Alan Velasco celebrates his goal against Colorado Rapids, October 14, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
Alan Velasco celebrates his goal against Colorado Rapids, October 14, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)


Here’s the TL;DR.

  1. Get an international TAM/GAM center back.
  2. Use the new buyout if 100% lock certain on a dead salary with an eye on 2025.
  3. Let Lletget replace Pomykal
  4. Wait.

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