Talking picks – FC Dallas 2022 draft needs

FC Dallas, and really all of MLS, is at a stage where the MLS SuperDraft is no longer a place to find kids who can walk in and start from day one.  You can say the same thing about Homegrown players and anything else of a development-type career phase as well really.

Are there contrary examples?  Yes, of course. From time to time a draft pick, Homegrown, or any other youthful signing can walk in and be impactful. But it’s a lot rarer than a decade ago.

The MLS SuperDraft is on Tuesday (Jan 11th) and FC Dallas is picking 6th overall.

Update 1/10/22: FCD is reported to have acquired the 3rd pick from Toronto in exchange for buying out Dom Dwyer’s contract. So they can for sure get one of these three names and maybe two if they get lucky.

According to Technical Director Andre Zanotta, FCD is tracking some players in the draft that they think can help the club… down the line. Yes, maybe in their first year. Maybe. But more likely in their second or third year. Coach Nico Estevez said FCD will need to be agile and adapt its strategy on draft day.

Picking at 6, we should see FCD get a shot at a Generation adidas player or a top-tier prospect but probably not an instant starter. So need won’t come into it all that much compared to best-available.

But let’s talk need anyway. 

There are some holes in the FCD depth chart. At what positions might FCD target a pick in the draft?

Forward/Wing

Ricardo Pepi is gone and just today Coach Estevez confirmed Jesus Ferreira is a 9 now. But Franco Jara is 33 and Ferreira will get some call ups so FC Dallas needs a third high striker. Szabolcs Schön will get a fair amount of call ups as well.

Paxton Pomkyal may stay at left wing but everyone wants him back inside.  Homegrown Beni Redzic is coming off a season missed by injury and needs more time at North Texas anyway. Kalil ElMedkhar remains unproven at the MLS level.

On the right, there is Jader Obrian and… nothing. Unless Dante Sealy flames out at PSV. (Yes, Pomykal and ElMedkhar can play there too)

It’s true that forward/wing is a position that FCD has some nice potential pieces in the Academy but they are too young at this point to help in MLS.  All are U17 and down, so they might be worth a protect-your-investment-type signing later this year and some playing time with North Texas, but they won’t help FCD this season.

Let’s not forget North Texas SC’s Bernanded Kamungo and Hope Acayevu, both of home have some big upside for down the line. Just not yet.

There are also a couple of FCD Academy kids in the college ranks that I think are interesting, but no one I would want to burn a Homegrown contract on right now. Who that is, is a post for another day.

Therefore, in the help soon’ish mentality, forward/wing is a position that FCD could look to go for early in the draft. This is the position that feeds right into the “best player available” philosophy because this is where some of the very best college talent sits.

Some Draft Candidates

Ousseni Bouda, Stanford – Generation adidas, wing. Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. From the Right to Dream Academy (like Twumasi).
Isaiah Parker, Saint Louis – Generation adidas, wing, lefty.
Kyle Holcomb, Wake Forest – 9, scores a lot of goals.
Thor Ulfarsson, Duke – 9, Generation adidas but foreign slot. ACC Offensive POY.

Draft Later for NTX

Daniel Evans, Kentucky. Former FC Dallas Academy player. Take him and decide later if you want to make him a Homegrown. He’s the closest to being worth a college Homegrown for me right now. I’d like to get a look at him with NTX.

Ousseni Bouda, Stanford. (Courtesy MLS)

Left Back

Ryan Hollingshead will be 31 in April and we’re starting to see the earliest signs of the 30s downward trend in him.  Johnny Nelson is gone having singed with FC Cincinnati after they selected him in the Re-Entry draft. 

Both Ema Twumasi – the presumptive right back starter – and Eddie Munjoma can play some left back, but, like Ryan, they aren’t left-footed.

So that means the club needs to find Hollingshead’s eventual replacement.

In the Academy, there are some names I like but none are locks like Jonathan Gomez was. Let’s be real, there is a giant gaping roster hole where JOGO should be in the FCD progression track. Gomez signed with Lou City instead of FC Dallas. Now he’s off to Real Sociedad, so you can hardly blame him for his choice. 

FC Dallas should be looking in the draft for a left-footed outside back or winger to convert to left back.  This is a legit need and Homegrown isn’t a solution right now.

Some Draft Candidates

Isaiah Parker, Saint Louis – Generation adidas. Yes, he was also listed as a wing opttion too.
Charlie Ostrem, Washington – ’20 Pac-12 Defender of the Year.
Justin Rasmussen, Grand Canyon – Mid expected to convert to back.

Draft Later for NTX

Holland Rula, High Point.

After being a three-year starter for Wake Forest, Rula has transferred to play an extra season at High Point. But he’s still draft eligible. If I were FCD, I might grab him with a late pick for next year (draft rights last 2 MLS seasons). I’m not sure he’s MLS level but you can always make him a Homegrown later if you want to.

Justin Rasmussen, Grand Canyon. (Courtesy MLS)

Center Back

I am a firm believer that you want five center backs on an MLS roster. Right now, if they keep Justin Che, FC Dallas has four.  Even if they keep Che, one more would be good.

If they sell Che, then they have three.

If North Texas brings back Caiser Gomes, he could be the fifth center back in an emergency just like last year.  As can, I suppose, NTX Brazilian center back Lucao.

Center back is a position in which young players are rare. College seniors have good value. Look no further than Nkosi Tafari for an example. Or that Matt Hedges dude.

There are some former Academy players in college that intrigue for future Homegrowns status: Josh Ramsey (Notre Dame Fr) and Grady Easton (SMU Fr). I would wait on both though. Again, the Academy has a bit of a gap to a couple of as-yet-unproven players in the U17 age bracket. 

So given the expected Che departure, FCD should grab a center back in the draft.

Unless Kipp Keller falls to FCD at 6, this might be a year to try a CB pick in the second round because CB is pretty deep in this pool. Or maybe trade into the mid to late first round if someone the club has identified falls down the draft.

Candidates

Kipp Keller, Saint Louis – Generation adidas, lefty
Esai Easley, Grand Canyon
Ahmed Longmire, UCLA
Ryan Sailor, Washington – ’21 Pac-12 Defender of the Year
Philip Quinton, Notre Dame – 6’6”

Esai Easley, Grand Canyon. (Courtesy MLS)

Who should FC Dallas Take at 6?

They will need a little luck, but…

Isaiah Parker, Saint Lous

Left-footed and Generation adidas. Left wing or left back. Big upside.

If Parker is off the board, then Ousseni Bouda (forward, Stanford), Kipp Keller (center back, St Louis), or the best senior center back available, whoever they deem that is.

Update 1/10/22: FCD is reported to have acquired the 3rd pick from Toronto in exchange for buying out Dom Dwyer’s contract. So they can for sure get one of these three names and maybe two if they get lucky.

What Positions Not to Draft

Goalkeeper

FCD has Jimmy Maurer and, reportedly, Cristian Rivero from Valencia.  I’ve been saying for months that Antonio Carrera will be the next Academy player signed but he should spend most of 2022 starting for North Texas SC.

So yes, FCD needs a third keeper but I don’t think that’s worth burning a pick on when Carrera is in the pipe with U17 Julian Eyestone coming right behind.  Just sign Richard Sanchez – who was with NTX last year – and be done with it.

There are several goalkeepers in the pool including two in Generation adidas: Roman Celentano of Indiana and Patrick Schulte of Saint Louis. There are also allegedly some good senior keepers and FCD did take a GK last year. So it won’t shock me if they go for one at some point.

I wouldn’t go for a keeper though. Certainly not early anyway.

Right Back

Since Eddie Munjoma is still on the team as the second choice right back, the club doesn’t need one per see. They also have Collin Smith on a Homegrown deal but he needs at least another year at North Texas SC in his right back conversion project.

But if FCD did decide Eddie was unproven, then I would suggest signing Kevin Bonilla from the University of Portland as a Homegrown signing. He’s already spent two seasons playing and starting for North Texas when he was in the Academy. Like Munjoma and Twumasi, Bonilla can also play left back when needed.

In fact, I do suggest that. FCD should sign Kevin Bonilla.

Kevin Bonilla drives past Shak Adams during the 1-1 draw between North Texas SC and FC Tucson, September 19, 2020. (Craig Marcho, 3rd Degree)

Or maybe there is a remote chance FCD asked for Erick Centeno to be signed by MLS? Erick spent a year (or less?) in the FCD Academy and was just named WCC Freshman of the Year. If FCD wanted him as a Homegrown and MLS said no – and instead signed him Generation adidas – maybe that’s who FCD will take at 6. I do admit, this Centeno idea is a bit of a stretch.

Update: after the loan of Nanu, right back seems even more out of the picture. I do still think very highly of Kevin Bonilla though and I will want him signed.

Central Mid

Between Paxton Pomykal, Brandon Servania, Edwin Cerrillo, and Nicky Hernandez – plus Thomas Roberts who could return in May – FC Dallas doesn’t really need to draft a central mid. 

That’s not even counting the rapidly progressing Blaine Ferri at North Texas and Diego Hernandez in the Academy, the latter is for me the closest Academy player to helping FCD now.  Plus there are multiple interesting central mids in the Academy after Diego. The FCD pipeline churns out central mids at a prodigious rate.

If Maryland’s Ben Bender – who seriously could go 1st overall – falls to #6 FCD might feel like they have to take him, or perhaps better, yet trade down a little with whoever might really want Bender. It seems unlikely Bender will fall to 6 though.

FCD also might take a late-round flyer on SMU mids Gabriel Costa or Skage Simonson. They could be worth a look for North Texas SC.

2022 FC Dallas Draft Picks

3rd overall (1st round from Toronto FC)
6th overall (1st round)
34th overall (2nd round)
62nd overall (3rd round)
66th overall (3rd round for Cal Jennings rights)
87th overall (after 3rd round for Montgomery)

I had FCD down as getting a compensatory pick for the ’22 4th round pick they received for Callum Montgomery, but MLS doesn’t show it on the SuperDraft pick order. The 4th round has gone away, you see.

Update: the missing pick for Montgomery has been “found” and added to the end of the draft.

2 Comments

  1. Recent successful draft picks (back to about 2015 or 2016) have been overwhelmingly defensive in nature. Very few offensive players can make it in MLS – the level of competition on the offensive side of the ball is just too high now. So i wouldn’t waste a pick on an striker or ACM. A winger might be a good pick if you knew he was open to becoming a fulback or wingback (a la Hollingshead), but you would need to know that was a possibility before drafting. It’s simply safer to pick CBs, FBs and GKs because you’re more likely to get someone who could stick.

    For this draft i would ask Charlotte what they would take in GAM to swap spots so i could pick Keller with the first pick – he’s a LCB and a consensus top-2 pick. Almost everyone thinks he will be MLS starter quality. Getting a domestic starting level player at the LCB spot would be a big plus for the team for the future and it solves your CB depth issue right away. I would be willing to pay as much as $500K in GAM for the spot but I’m not sure FCD would be willing to pay that much for a college player.

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