The Zanotta Record – grading FCD’s moves under Andre Zanotta

FC Dallas Chief Soccer Officer and Technical Director, Andre Zanotta, was hired on January 30th of 2019, after FC Dallas first became interested in him during negotiations with Gremio for Bressan.

FC Dallas has just completed its fourth season under Zanotta’s stewardship so now seems a good time to drill down on Zanotta’s transfer record with Los Toros.

Yes, Dan Hunt as Team President & Owner, and Clark Hunt as the other half of the team’s Ownership, are involved in transfers. So are both coaches under AZ’s tenure – Luchi Gonzalez and Nico Estevez – as are the rest of the technical staff.

But Zanatta is the captain of the ship, so he gets the blame and credit. Let’s review his tenure year by year.

I’ll put the players in the other they were acquired. I’m leaving out draft picks as that’s mostly the domain of Marco Ferruzzi and the college scouting staff (and to save some room) but I’m including Homegrowns which are overall organizational decisions.

Since Zanotta was hired in January 2019, he inherited quite a few players that were signed before he arrived. For the 2019 season that includes Kobra (Zdenek Ondrasek), the aforementioned Bressan, and Bryan Acosta.

Let’s begin.


To be honest, preseason 2019 probably isn’t all that much Zanotta. He’d just arrived and was likely still getting his feet under him. While I’m sure he was involved, it’s not all on him.


PlayerMoveMove GradeNotes/Thoughts
Edwin CerrilloHomegrownBInitial Homegrown deal. Really any HGs are organizational calls.
Dante SealyHomegrownBHe’s hardly played here in Dallas. But has big upside.
Ricardo PepiHomegrownADuh.
Edwin GyasiSigned TAMFOh man, whoever approved this one, dude. I hate to think that Gyasi, signed in July, was Zanotta’s first “real” signing cause holy smokes was Gyasi trash.
Eric AlexanderSignedDI can’t see this as being a Zanotta signing either due to the guy’s history in the league and with FCD. Frankly, Alexander was mostly a practice player in 2019 anyway. AZ must have listened to someone in the org.


PlayerMoveMove GradeNotes/Thoughts
Marquinhos PedrosoWaivedBThis one caught me off guard at the time but Pedroso’s high salary and then lack of success at DC United are quite telling.
Carlos GruezoSoldFPerhaps Gruezo forced their hand but he was one of the great 6s in club history and FCD has never replaced him. This move pretty much destroyed the Luchi era.
Pablo AranguizLoanedAA good bit of business getting off the books a player that really didn’t want to be here.


The pandemic season. Lots of stuff all over the world went sideways and it changed the market.

I have always assumed that Zanotta had his eye on some of these guys from his time at Gremio while others were names the organization had been tracking for some time.


PlayerMoveMove GradeNotes/Thoughts
Fafa PicaultGAM TradeCIn Dallas for just one season, he put up some of the worst numbers of his career. Just the wrong fit it would seem. An expensive wrong fit.
Thiago SantosTAM SigningB+Gruezo’s replacement, Santos turned out to be pretty good although not nearly the same level as the departed Ecuadorian. A little older than we would like perhaps but serviceable.
Franco JaraSignedFThis one is on Dan Hunt but I so blame Zanotta some for not stopping ole’ Dan’o. The only saving grace is Jara’s professional behavior.
Tanner TessmannHomegrownAGreat signing. The only shocking thing was it took a great preseason performance to land Tessmann a homegrown deal. That FCD didn’t see his quality in the Academy is worrisome.
Carlos AvilezHomegrownNAAn emergency midseason GK was released shortly thereafter.
Andres RicaurteTAMCA summer transfer with no immediate impact. Talented player but Coach Gonzalez didn’t seem to know how to use him.
PhelipeLoanedCAt the time, this seemed like a buy low and sell high after it was assumed Phelipe would be in the Brazilian Olympic team. Seemed like a good idea on paper… except it didn’t work.
Justin CheHomegrownBGood HG signing with upside.


PlayerMoveMove GradeNotes/Thoughts
Edwin GyasiLoan EndAThe dude was trash and a horrible signing. It was a no-brainer to get rid of him.
Eric AlexanderOut of ContractNANo impact as a signing.
Moises HernandezOption declinedCWhile Hernandez wasn’t going to be a starter here perhaps he could have been a nice reserve. He’s still playing for club and country.
Cristian ColmanOption declinedAColman cost a lot and just couldn’t produce in MLS.
Dom BadjiTAM TradeABadji’s bounced around MLS since but has just 6 goals since. Good move.
Jacori HayesTradeBHayes remains a good roster piece for Minnesota just as he was here but he’s struggled to stay healthy.
Jesse GonzalezContract TerminatedNAGiven the off-field reasons, it had to happen.
Reggie CannonSoldA-Reggie wanted out for some time. $3.5 mil + sell-on percentage is a solid deal. The minus comes from the issue of getting all the money.
KobraSoldBKobra asked to go home for family reasons. Getting any kind of fee in that situation is ok.


Coming out of the pure heart of the pandemic, the market is depressed and there is a chance to do some good business.


PlayerMoveMove GradeNotes/Thoughts
Jose MartinezTAMCI don’t think JAM has been the greatest of signings. Yes, LCBs are hard to come by but he’s been mostly ok after becoming a full-time starter this year after looking really poor in 2021.
Jader OrbianTAMB-9 goals and 4 assists as a starter in 2021 for a team that missed the playoffs. Off the bench threat in 2022 with 2 goals and 4 assists. He’s not a homerun signing but FCD has done way worse before.
Kalil ElMedkharTAM / HomegrownDFCD traded with Philly for his HG rights but ElMedkhar hasn’t been able to break through.
Freddy VargasLoanCVargas a few moments but wasn’t the hoped-for diamond.
Szabolcs SchonTAMBThe club’s first U-22 Initiative signing looked really good in 2021… but 2022… er…
Beni RedzicHomegrownDA player that, in my mind, should have gotten a North Texas SC contract rather than a HG contract. So far he’s matched that belief even if there is some upside hiding away in there somewhere.
Collin SmithHomegrownC+Like Redzic, I would have preferred an NTX/FCD hybrid contract as he’s a long-term project. But FCD has stashed him at NTX anyway and he’s continuing to progress. I have hopes as he’s still just 18.
Facundo QuignonSignedB-Facu was a very late emergency signing, maybe FCD did the best they could on short notice.
Caiser GomesLoanAA loan on paper only, this move gets a good grade for manipulation of the system and rules… Loaned from NTX to FCD to get him on the roster before the freeze date in case they needed an emergency CB… he was immediately loaned back to NTX to finish the season.


PlayerMoveMove GradeNotes/Thoughts
Pablo AranguizSoldAGetting any money at all for this dude was good.
Reto ZieglerOut of ContractBZiegler was getting up there in age and was really struggling with the pace of MLS. It was time to part ways. But FCD has yet to replace him adequately in my mind.
Santi MosqueraOption DeclinedBA solid player here in Dallas but Santi never became the big-time stud they needed him to be. After a three-year run, the club moved on.
Fafa PicualtGAM TradeAGiven his low production, getting $275k GAM for Fafa was a top move.
Michael BarriosTrade Int Slot & Draft PickBBarrios had an amazing run in Dallas but he was starting to lose a step and the contract was escalating. It was the right time to move on. This move was about cap more than anything.
Bryan ReynoldsSoldAI love me some Bryan Reynolds but $8 mil up front and a possible $11 mil with incentives is some sweet business.
Thiago SantosSoldFOn paper, I kind of understand, $1 to $1.5 mil from Gremio for a 31-year-old… ok sure. But to do it a week before the season and eventually replace him with an inferior player is hot garbage. This move literally cost Luchi his job. It almost feels like Zanotta sold Santos just to do his old club Gremio a favor… and that’s a bad look.
Tanner TessmannSoldAGiven the relative lack of PT for the kid since, anything near the reported $3 million is some quality business. I’d have loved it if Tessmann had stayed but I can’t say this wasn’t a good sale.
Dante SealyLoan w/ buy optionTBDThe 2-year-loan to PSV was put together in the Luchi era but it still works under Estevez cause Sealy has a vibe I don’t think Coach Nico would dig. Final grade on this loan will come in the future.


The market is starting to normalize but there are some pockets that can still be taken advantage of. As you will see.


PlayerMoveMove GradeNotes/Thoughts
NanuLoanDToo expensive and didn’t beat out Ema Twumasi. A bit of off-bench, late-game, offensive punch plus being a good worker without complaint has some value. But overall a bust move.
Maarten PaesLoan/BuyA+What a fantastic loan and buy, even if the buy was auto-triggered, Paes is an amazing signing (so far).
Paul ArriolaGAM TradeAThe most expensive $AM trade in league history but it paid off in spades both in terms of stats and leadership.
Alen VelascoTransferA+A club record transfer but a bargain price in a macro sense cause pre-pandemic Velasco might have cost $15 mil. Independiente needed cash money and Zanotta took advantage of that fact. So far so good on the 19-year-old.
Marco FarfanTradeAYes, everyone loves Ryan Hollingshead. We still do. But trading a 30-year-old offensive-minded, right-footed left back for a 23-year-old lefty defensive-minded left back when you need to fix the defense is a quality trade.
Antonio CarreraHomegrownB+This kid looks like the real deal playing for North Texas SC. The reason his signing is not an A is the club again didn’t see his value in the Academy – like with Tessmann – and offered him only a hybrid NTX/FCD deal (which is still a nice deal). It wasn’t till they saw him in FCD camp that they tore up the hybrid deal for a full HG deal.
Joshué QuiñónezLoanTBDSome solid upside here but he’s not played enough to really determine the grade. The (currently unknown) price of the potential buy will also factor in the final grade.
Sebastian Lletget$AM TradeAWhat a move. $600k in $AM but NE paid a big chunk of his $1 mil salary in 2022. A player FCD had sought from the spring, he elevated the team to a legit threat in the West.
Bernanrd KamungoSigningAThe first open tryout to North Texas to FC Dallas player in club history. An amazing story of a refugee from Tanzania landing in Abilene. Immediately moved to 4th on our FCD depth chart at wing after signing with the first team.


PlayerMoveMove GradeNotes/Thoughts
PhelipeEnd of LoanBThe buy was way too high and he hadn’t delivered both in MLS or internationally.
Andres RicaurteEnd of LoanBLuchi Gonzalez never played a system that made Ricaurte work. Just the wrong fit in the end.
Freddy VargasEnd of LoanBNot enough sparkle to be a diamond.
Caiser GomesEnd of LoanCNo shock FCD didn’t keep him. A bit of a surprise NTX didn’t either.
BressanOption DeclinedCHis time was up… not that his replacement has been all that much better.
Bryan AcostaOption DeclinedAA player much more was expected of. Yet quite a few people were caught off guard by this move. Clearly, though, it was the right choice.
Justin CheLoan w/ buy optionsTBDA 6-month loan to Bayern in 2021 became a loan to Hoffenheim through June 2023 with a buy option. That seems like a smart loan given he might not have started here under the new coach. Final grade TBD on this one down the line.
Ricardo PepiSoldA+$20 million. Dude, come on. $20 MILLION! Plus add-ons?!?! Boom goes the dynamite!
Ryan HollingsheadTradeAAs mentioned above, assume dude. Love him. Wish him the best. But still a great trade.
Szabolcs SchönSoldBGetting any money for a player you don’t want is always solid. The great mystery is why he fell out with the new coach beyond being gone a lot. A lot of promise in 2021 to…. nothing in 2022, even desperation to be rid of him. For a while, the sale looked like it had fallen through but it was saved at the final hurdle.


Outbound, Andre Zanotta has been doing the business, making the Hunts some phat cash and bringing the club into profitability.

That shouldn’t be a surprise cause the rep on Zanotta coming in was that of a buyer/seller who was good at making clubs money, more so than perhaps winning.

To be honest, the inbound moves were a bit meh from 2019 to 2021. Some good pieces in there but some massive, massive whiffs.

All in all, not that confidence-inducing… Until 2022.

Then holy crap, multiple knock-it-out-of-the-park home runs. An offseason for the ages. Maybe the best in club history. Virtually everything was a big hit. Only one move, Nanu, didn’t pay off in spades and at least that dude had some small value at the end.

Perhaps one could say the money-making sales of the last few years have financed the wins – on and off the field – that we are seeing now.

Either way, more like 2022, please.


  1. Did years 2019-2021 have to happen to put the club in financial position to make the 2022 moves? Zanotta didn’t hire Luci. Perhaps Zanotta was more focused on the long term vision of the team at the expense of short term consequences.

  2. Absolutely, best offseason in team history. Great years were adding 1-2 players or a player and a coach. This was adding a coach and great players that made current players better. Yes this is off the top of my head a bit, but I seriously can’t think of a better transition.

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