If you follow the fortunes of the FC Dallas Academy, watch North Texas SC regularly, or enjoy the 3rd Degree podcast, you have known about another impressive midfielder stepping off the FC Dallas production line.
Tanner Tessmann has been a mainstay in the academy, winning the MVP award for the 2019 US Soccer Developmental Academy Playoffs. With close to 900 minutes played in USL League One last season, Tessmann committed to playing both soccer and football for Clemson. A professional career was a when, not an if, but was FC Dallas about to miss out on another great prospect?
Firstly, what makes the 18-year-old standout among any of the other FC Dallas or US national prospects. Tessmann is not only a fantastic technical player but a pure athlete.
The man himself treated listeners of his ChumChat podcast – along with fellow former academy players Johan Gomez and Judson Burns – to a self-assessment in line with what FC Dallas fans could expect from a realistic FIFA profile of the club’s 28th Homegrown Player:
“I do have a good weak foot. A lot of players know they’re solid on one foot but I think I have a good weak foot.Tanner Tessmann on ChumChat
“My shooting definitely. I do hit some bangers as a midfielder, so as a midfielder I would have high shooting.
“I’d say I’m not the paciest but I definitely have sustainable pace. I’m not anywhere below average, I’d say above average or at least average.”
If you listen to the 3rd Degree podcast, you’ve heard us wax lyrical about the Grown Ass Man, or Manster as Peter prefers, for the past year. Buzz revealed that Tessmann was to sign a Homegrown deal and get the opening day start on last week’s episode with the full low down on what fans could expect to see:
“Aside from being six-three, and big and physical, he used to be a number ten type playmaker in the academy and over the last two years, they’ve transitioned him back to where he’s an eight – which is more his natural position because he does have really strong defensive qualities. He can pick up balls, tackle, and check back.
“They could even use him as a center back. I’ve literally seen him play every position on the field except keeper for the academy. He’s got great passing vision, he’s notable for his trademark 50-yard cross-field bomb passes that are on a rope right to somebody’s feet on the break. He’s got good vision, he’s good on the ball. He’s a big game player in big moments, and he can score goals from like 30 yards out, shooting from that range.
Now granted we’re talking about a kid who’s an academy player and a kid who’s been with North Texas, so he’s not gonna walk into the MLS team and be an MVP level player but you’re talking at 18 years of age. He’s already been the MVP of the DA Academy, he’s already played and started a bunch in North Texas while he was 18-years-old so you know this is the kind of quality player that has a huge upside and potential.
“If you want to try to go old school MLS, you could think back to some of the bigger, deeper, playmaker type players like a Matt McKeon maybe, or like a Mike Sorber back in the old USA days. That kind of deep-lying playmaking eight, that’s kind of his style.”
FC Dallas would not have necessarily lost out on Tanner Tessmann if he had gone to Clemson in search of national championships in two sports. Reggie Cannon spent a year at UCLA, Eddie Munjoma just finished a full four years at SMU.
MLS Homegrown eligibility would stay with FC Dallas as long as players attending college fulfill certain criteria such as attending summer camps. The problem comes from further afield. FCD lost Tessmann’s co-host Johan Gomez to Porto, and his younger brother Jonathan is now seeking opportunities in Europe as well.
Another factor in Tessmann getting the start was simply the numbers game as FC Dallas saw midfielders dropping like flies. Paxton Pomykal had offseason surgery and is still not fit enough to start. Brandon Servania came back from USMNT camp with an MCL sprain. Bryan Acosta had an appendectomy. Both players are slated to return in March. Edwin Cerrillo and Johnny Nelson both spent some time playing further up as an eight in preseason, but their tendencies are more defensive than a linking eight like Tessmann or Acosta.
From the initial scrimmage with NTX Rayados, we saw head coach Luchi Gonzalez talking extensively to Tessmann. As academy and North Texas players were invited to first team practice on a day-by-day basis, Tessmann was ever-present in a full first team kit. FC Dallas included Tessmann in both the Florida and California preseason camps and started the center midfielder against Philadelphia and Miami. You could look at it as the hard sell on signing with the MLS club, and a sign of faith from Gonzalez and FC Dallas in a promising player who is ready to contribute at the MLS-level.
Tessmann put in an assured performance, with a strong defensive showing in the shut-out win and capping things off with a 50-yard run to assist Paxton Pomykal’s injury-time goal. If not for Thiago Santos, it was a Man of the Match type of performance you can watch courtesy of 3rd Degree contributor Mister Kranks:
To put a couple of things into context. Only Santos had more defensive actions, and only Ryan Hollingshead won more tackles and defensive duels – in each of those cases just one more. Check out this stat line Football Wonderkids compiled:
Is Tanner Tessmann permanently benching Bryan Acosta – no – but performances like this help to ensure that Acosta and Brandon Servania aren’t walking into the lineup in a couple of weeks.
Tessmann mentioned in ChumChat that his goal is to become a ‘main guy’ in 2021, and with the amount Buzz and the rest of us have talked about the 18-year-old over the past couple of years, don’t expect any of us to bet against it.
The U20 World Cup proved to be the platform that led to Servania becoming a key piece in the second half of last season, and Tessmann is part of the group working towards next year’s U20 World Cup.