FC Dallas has always had a solid midfield, but since the club traded or sold Kellyn Acosta, Victor Ulloa, and Mauro Diaz, the club has seen only one starter return from the 2018 season.
One of the major worries coming into the season was the ability to develop play with an entirely new midfield. However, the team has shown great depth in the midfield roles and has shown that the development of play was never going to be a worry for the club.
The club number of 6’s, 8’s, and 10’s is so vast that last year’s signing Pablo Aranguiz has been pushed to an inverted winger.
The club’s promising homegrown signing Brandon Servania has been pushed very deep in the depth chart.
That is a massive development that has gone unnoticed. With Luchi’s confidence in the kids, the midfield has become the most stacked in the entire league. When players have gone to international duty, especially looking at the matches against the Rapids and RSL, the club has the ability to plug in players into those empty roles and still produce great results.
So what is the current depth chart?
Our rock in the midfield, Carlos Gruezo has been IMO the 3rd best defensive midfielder since 2016, right behind league veterans Diego Chara and Ozzie Alonso. He has also been the most consistent player on this team since his arrival over 3 years ago, even with the minor blip of the team that was 2017.
Let’s be real here though: He honestly shouldn’t be in the MLS. When he came to FC Dallas, he was raw, but he has become a player without many faults. Now that he has gotten his spot back with the Ecuadorian National Team, a good performance in the Copa America will undoubtedly lead to his departure.
A couple of months ago, he was an unknown talent that many did not know. He surprised fans in the preseason, as he showed to be a good talent that is calm on the ball and is good at defending space.
But that’s preseason, and Badji has proven that preseason can mean little in comparison to the regular season. So how has he done?
I’d argue he was much better against Real Salt Lake than he was in the preseason. His passing in the preseason was a bit suspect, but in Salt Lake, he had only four uncompleted passes in his 53 minutes on the field. His positioning was very good, and as a gentle reminder, he is only 18 years old.
He will probably be a bench warmer/NTSC starter while Gruezo is still around. But Copa America is coming around, and so are the European scouts. If (maybe when) Gruezo heads to Europe, it’ll be a dog fight between Cerillo and Brandon Servania for the role. Currently, Cerillo is winning
Servania has been unfortunate
He has been unable to break into the starting eleven in his first year, and in his second year, his bench role has been stolen by Cerillo due to poor outings in the preseason. But he still has quality. In North Texas SC’s inaugural match, he and Alfousainey Jatta covered the entire field and kept disrupting the Red Wolves’ play.
One can’t deny that Servania, so far, has been somewhat of a disappointment, especially with all the hype following him form Wake Forest. He was, unfortunately, one of the homegrowns that was pushed deep into the depth chart by Papi and Co. But there is a reason why he had that hype train: he was the best freshman in college soccer in 2017. He started for one of the best college programs in the nation. He has the talent, and hopefully, NTSC helps him to improve enough to compete with Cerillo.
Others: Jatta, Bissainthe Letayf, C. Garcia
Our one DP signing this offseason. Acosta had massive expectations placed on him by the club and the fans. With the departures of team legend (I can definitely say that) Victor Ulloa and staple homegrown Kellyn Acosta, Bryan Acosta had massive shoes to fill. Also, with the bad record, this club has in signing designated players with more than 2 million dollars, the eyes were all on him.
He has lived up to standards. We knew he wasn’t going to be a superstar because we’ve seen him play with Los Catratchos. He has quality, but there was doubt whether or not he could hit the ground running in Frisco.
He might use the Gold Cup like Gruezo will use the Copa America, but he is also 26 years old. Plus, he desired to come to FC Dallas so much that he reportedly paid for part of his transfer fee. It looks like he’s here to stay, and with the performances he has put up, he can become a veteran leader in the midfield
There isn’t much to say on Jacori. There has never been a game where he was excruciatingly bad, but at the same time, he is never a stellar player. His low center of gravity helps him retain the ball, but his passing range is still lower than most on the team. He fills a good bench role if need be and is still relatively young, although on this team, being young is a different standard
Guys, I’m excited.
Jatta looks like a player that can develop into a star. He is one of the few tall players that I’ve seen play that can retain the ball and move it around.
Hence his nickname Gambian Pogba
It will take a while for him to develop into an MLS-Caliber player, but he has the tools, and the versatility, to succeed in this league.
Others: Pomykal, Servania
I mean, what else is there to say? Paxton Pomykal has been the best player for FC Dallas in the months of March and April, and there isn’t much of a debate there. He has been extremely influential on both sides of the ball and has shown his abilities to help defend and to push the attack. He is the reason why Aranguiz isn’t regularly starting in the 10 role.
He has the starting spot on lock, and it will be interesting how he develops with the USMNT, and whether Berhalter wants to throw him into the mix for a USMNT role.
There is a small caveat here: it doesn’t seem likely that Aranguiz will start consistently a the ten role. Luchi likes him out wide as an inverted winger, but that truly isn’t his best position. Unless he constantly has choices for the first pass, Aranguiz is useless on the wing.
The club purchased him for reportedly around a million dollars, according to Trnasfermarkt. If we are truly a developmental club that sells its players once they’ve developed, then the club must give him more opportunities at the role he was signed to play. He has been very decent in that 10 role when he has played there this season. His ability to interplay with other players is very valuable, and the club must be aware that he can’t always be a benchwarmer.
This kid can play.
During preseason, Roberts wasn’t great. Yes, he scored a goal against Seattle, but in general, he wasn’t starting-eleven quality. The pass he gave Odrasek in the match against Colorado, however, is one of the best “assists” (not really an assist but you get the idea) from a teenager that I have seen in this league in a while.
Kid’s got talent. Enough talent that Luchi thinks he has earned a bench role consistently for over the past month. I would love to see him play with North Texas SC, however. Yes, he is probably much better than most of the opposition of USL League 1, but consistent playing time is what he really needs. North Texas SC was made for a player like him.
Plus, it would be very interesting to see him deal with the competition with Arturo Rodriguez
Rodriguez first popped up training with the first team last year along with Oscar Romero, according to training notes from 3rd Degree. He didn’t seem like an MLS-caliber player, but the fact the club kept him around gave everyone a pretty big confirmation that Rodriguez was going to sign for NTSC.
Although only 20, he still has a long ways to go. Also, due to him being old, relatively, it’s going to be extremely hard for him to get a starting role in the first team anytime soon. However, he has looked pretty good in a North Texas SC uniform, and if Pomykal is really eyeing up Europe, he might get his opportunity before any of the kids below him on the depth chart.
Others: D. Rodiguez, Tessmann
If any of these midfielders play well against a really good Atlanta defense, it will reinstate or shift their position in the depth chart.
Let’s hope for another game of possession, control, and goals this weekend!
Featured Image: MLSsoccer.com