Monday, August 15, 2022 Aug 15, 2022
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Soccer

Four Moves FC Dallas Might Make in the Transfer Window

The team is playing well under its new coach. Here's what they need to take the next step.
By Sam Hale |
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Even after a recent rocky patch, FC Dallas is exceeding expectations in 2022. Through 17 matches, the team has seven wins under first-year coach Nico Estevèz. That equals the win total for all of 2021, and 17 matches remain on the schedule. As of this writing, FCD is fifth in the Western Conference, squarely in the hunt for the MLS postseason. If this feels like the club is ahead of schedule, that’s because it is. This is a young squad anchored by MLS Golden Boot leader Jesús Ferreira, USMNT star Paul Arriola, and re-emerging midfielder Paxton Pomykal. 

That’s not to say things can’t get even better.

With the MLS transfer window opening today, teams will have just under a month to scour the market for players while shedding others. André Zanotta, the technical director for FC Dallas, has been out and about, in search of what could be the next piece or pieces for the puzzle. What could that look like? Here are four potential moves. 

Sign a new starting defensive midfielder

Coming into the season, one of the big items of fan interest was the fully homegrown midfield. It featured Edwin Cerrillo in the defensive midfielder (or six) position, along with Pomykal and Brandon Servania as the central midfielders (or eights). After four matches, however, fellow six Facundo Quignon got the start against Chicago, and the position has since turned into a job share.

Steve Davis, the analyst for FC Dallas broadcasts, said it best on a postgame show weeks ago: as with quarterbacks, if you’ve got two defensive midfielders, you have none. Cerrillo’s ceiling is plenty high, but at 21 he’s still showing the developmental molehills of youth. His decision-making and positioning aren’t always ideal, and that tends to lead to detrimental fouls. Quignon brings similar issues but with less speed and room to improve at 29. If FCD wants to see immediate improvement in its starting 11, this is the place to begin. 

The ideal candidate for the job is someone around the age of 25 to 27 with MLS or equivalent experience and who can start immediately. That would allow Cerrillo to be the backup six, or potentially take an overseas loan for experience in an effort to accelerate his development. It could also lead Quignon, who signed a 30-month contract last June, to return to the bench or explore other options. A depth signing isn’t the move here; either get someone clearly better than the existing options or spend the money elsewhere.

Sign another forward

This is less about replacement and more about supplementing. Ferreira is the starting striker as long as he desires; that’s not changing. Where this gets problematic is what’s behind Zeus. Fellow striker Franco Jara turns 34 this month, and he lacks the physical skills that made him a double-digit scorer in Liga MX four times and as recently as the 2019-20 campaign. His work ethic and dedication to the squad are beyond reproach, but those attributes don’t score goals. Beyond that, the forward depth is nonexistent. That means if Ferreira goes down with an injury or needs a game or two to rest over the long, hot summer, the offensive production would drop. 

What makes this scenario more complex is the best signing wouldn’t be another false nine striker like Ferreira. Because he’s going to play most of the minutes, the best fit would be a different type of forward, someone who could give the squad a fresh look offensively late in games. Consider it like a sub package in football. Having struggled against certain defensive setups, a changeup option on the bench would give FCD more tools to better attack opponents.

Sign a central defender

This would be a hybrid move rooted in both the present and the future. The center-back depth is compromised right now, with Lucas Barlett and Joshué Quiñónez dealing with injuries. That leaves Dallas with just three healthy center backs. Starters Matt Hedges and José Martinez are 32 and 29, respectively, and both have dealt with injury and health issues that forced them out of the lineup at times this season. Nkosi Tafari has done yeoman’s work in their stead, but his role is as a backup.

With age and the Texas heat waging war on the starting duo, it would make sense for Dallas to find someone who could start both now and later. A four center-back rotation while the two injured players recover would give Estevèz quality options. That’s becoming more imperative as of late; after allowing just seven goals in its first 10 games, Dallas has surrendered 13 in its last seven. What was at one point one of the league’s most stalwart defenses has become leaky, and a signing here could provide a much-needed plug.

Find a new home for Scabolz Schön

As so often happens when a new regime takes over, some players benefit, and others fall to the wayside. The departure of coach Luchi Gonzalez and arrival of Estevèz is no different, with Schön being the odd man out. The Hungarian Cowboy had six assists in 24 matches last season, but he has yet to feature for Dallas in 2022. The future of the soon-to-be 22-year-old in Frisco is cloudy, to the point where it feels as if the best scenario for all involved is some time apart.

The separation doesn’t have to be forever; a loan would be an ideal option for both sides. Schön needs to be on the field, so going somewhere he can play would be beneficial. Meanwhile, Dallas could retain his rights. A sale could be possible if both sides have decided this isn’t going to work, and the return could be invested in any of the previously stated needs. 

In any event, the club should be motivated to make a move. Schön takes up an international spot, of which MLS clubs only get 10. Dallas is using nine spots, so it potentially could have two international spots with which to maneuver. That’s before we consider the impact on the salary cap, which is nebulous as those details aren’t made public. All of this adds up to a situation where Dallas could benefit from letting a young, talented player ply his craft elsewhere, temporarily if not permanently. 

Other moves could open up playing time for Schön, but that seems unlikely. The winger rotation of Arriola, Alan Velasco, and Jáder Obrian is entrenched, while the future appears to belong to Beni Redzic, Kalil ElMedkhar, and 20-year-old Bernard Kamungo (who has nine goals and two assists in 14 matches with North Texas SC at the MLS NEXT Pro level), among others. Every card dealt comes up as a bust for Schön, which points to a move as the best outcome for all involved.

After a busy winter that featured the acquisitions of Arriola, Velasco, and Marco Farfan, Zanotta and company face their next challenge. This team has exceeded expectations, and attendance is up. How far can FC Dallas go this season? The moves made over the next month could very well determine that.

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