With the creation of North Texas SC, the fans have been able to see more of FC Dallas’ renowned academy in professional settings. The club has also put an emphasis on homegrown with the first team, as the club has played more homegrowns and given more opportunities to the academy graduates.
Now that the team is nearly halfway through the season, I thought it might be interesting to rate all of the homegrowns that are on the rosters of FC Dallas and North Texas SC.
Paxton Pomykal – A++
The only player on the FC Dallas roster that has an actual shot of being an MLS All-Star this year, Paxton has been the most valuable player on the FC Dallas roster. The club is has a 5-2-2 record with him and a 1-4-2 record without him.
It isn’t even a matter of quality. In the games that he has played with the club, he consistently raises the level of everyone around him. His constant energy helps the team press. It is also great that great vision and great dribbling ability are part of his repertoire.
It is also very obvious when you see that his time with the U20’s at the World Cup coincides with the recent poor form of the club. Without him, the attack looked lethargic nearly the entire time, and there wasn’t a player that was able to hit that splitting through ball or that player that had the energy to do a quick one-two. In laymen’s terms, FC Dallas has been really boring to watch while he was in Poland. And due to his performances there, fans should get ready for him to leave Frisco in the near future.
Edwin Cerrillo – A+
When Cerrillo was signed by the club on Valentine’s Day this year, no one thought he would appear in 8 games by the halfway point of the season. The homegrown, however, has proved to be an important tool and a good player for the team.
Pomykal wasn’t the only player to have international duties with the U20’s, as both Cerrillo and Brandon Servania have been unavailable for the past month or so. And although many will credit Pomykal leaving as the reason the results were sour in May, I might give more credit to Cerrillo. In this first half of the season, he performed Gruezo’s job in a manner I didn’t think was possible for an 18-year-old. He is always so composed on and off the ball, and he covers so much ground that it allows most of the midfielders to commit numbers forward.
He isn’t exactly like Gruezo: he isn’t a pure destroyer. But he is able to cover the field and always complete the easy pass, which is all you really need in a defensive midfielder. The fact that many FC Dallas fans were disappointed at his lack of opportunity at the U20’s World Cup shows his value to the club.
Also, he is currently one of the high favorites for MLS Rookie of the Year.
Ricardo Pepi – A+
7 goals in 6 games for a 16-year-old in a professional league is insane.
Pepi, the first North Texas SC player on the list, is currently on a development path that is mimicking Alphonso Davies, the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy player that lit up USL and MLS as a teenager. So far, Pepi has a goal or an assist every 68 minutes with NTSC, which has recently earned him an opportunity with the first team in the Open Cup (he got an assist).
Although he wasn’t as spectacular in the U17 CONCACAF Championship last month, he is going to have a real opportunity to shine in the upcoming U17 World Cup in Brazil. Again, another player that will probably be heading out the door for Europe very soon.
Ronaldo Damus – A
With a name like Ronaldo, he is going to bang in goals all the time.
Yeah, it’s kind of deceptive to portray Damus as a consistent goalscorer when half of his goals for North Texas this year came from Wednesday’s game, but he is one of those players on NTSC that will probably aid the first team consistently over the next couple of years. His speed rivals Barrios’, and he has a good eye for the back of the net.
It might be difficult to see his first team quality, as he is only speeding past players from USL League One, but he mimics the playstyle and speed of Derrick Etienne Jr, an academy player for NYRB that has consistently given their club an asset off the bench for the last 3 years.
FC Dallas doesn’t currently have that spark that can come off the bench every week to help the team get a goal or run the ball to the corner flag to waste time. Damus is that kind of player, and he is one of the few from NTSC that can make the jump to the first team really soon.
Bryan Reynolds – A
It took Reynolds two years to make his MLS debut, and many see him as one of those players on the roster that would have benefited from NTSC being created a couple of years earlier. However, so far, in the few minutes we have seen him play in the FC Dallas and North Texas SC jerseys, he has been really solid.
It’s kind of crazy to think that he has been a professional soccer player already for two years, but his composure does reflect that kind of maturity. Although there aren’t any flashy stats, he has been incredibly consistent for North Texas in every game he has played.
Reggie Cannon might leave the club after the Gold Cup, and it’s really refreshing that we have a replacement already prepared.
Arturo Rodriguez – A-
Arturo has played all but 36 minutes for North Texas, the highest number of minutes on that roster with the exception of Gambian International Alfousainey Jatta.
He has the highest number of assists on the roster with four, the highest number of Key Passes with 21, and the second highest number of passes with 416.
Currently the creative hub of the North Texas SC side, he has been one of the few constants of that group. He is the one directing traffic in the group, and he and his brother David are the most skilled players on that roster.
It is very difficult to see a path for him right now on the first team roster, as attacking midfielder is currently three players deep with Paxton Pomykal, Pablo Aranguiz, and Thomas Roberts. But Arturo is a very good option when all of these players eventually leave (they will), and he has shown that he has quality. It will be interesting to see where his future takes him, as he has the hardest path to the first team than any of the other starters on North Texas SC.
Kevin Bonilla – A-
FC Dallas has a lot of fullbacks
Counting Ryan Hollingshead and Jorge Almaguer, who both play several positions, and Moises Hernandez, who is in San Antonio, the club has 9 fullbacks counting the ones on North Texas. From the ones rostered with North Texas, Bonilla has played the most games, with 8 professional matches on his belt.
Like Reynolds, he isn’t flashy. But he has shown his quality consistently, and he has played both fullback roles for North Texas SC throughout the season, playing left back when Reynolds plays with NTSC, and right back when Jonathan Gomez began to play more.
He has a shot of breaking through the first team roster if he keeps giving coach Quill reasons to start him.
Jesus Ferreira – A-
Jesus is currently the top goalscorer for FC Dallas, so he probably should be higher up on the list. But the top goalscorer list means nothing, due to the fact that Own Goal and Center Back Reto Ziegler are clipping at Ferreira’s heals with three goals each.
Maybe I’m one of the few that isn’t really buying Jesus stock, but mainly it’s because he hasn’t impressed to a substantial degree. He is the team’s starting striker because the other strikers on the roster have not been good, to put it mildly.
Nonetheless, Ferreira hasn’t scored in a month, so I don’t think he has proved that he is the first name on the team sheet. Granted, this goalscoring drought coincides with the poor form of the team, which seems to have its roots in Pomykal and Cerrillo not being in Frisco. And Dominique Badji and the Cobra haven’t really given Luchi much incentive to remove Jesus from the Starting Eleven.
However, Ricardo Pepi played really good on Wednesday for FC Dallas in the open cup game against a solid OKC Energy team. Ferreira needs to start producing if he doesn’t want Pepi to leapfrog him by the end of summer.
Jesse Gonzalez – A-
Well then. I think Jesse heard us this offseason.
Jesse has definitely improved his game since last year. The biggest knock on him by most of the fanbase was a lack of communication and very worrying decision-making. So far, it seems that he has been working on that, which surprisingly got him a call-up to the national team earlier this spring.
His window for leaving the club for greener pastures seems to be closing, but he still has the quality that most fans think could make it abroad and also enough quality for a national team shout. If he continues to play really well every week, then Jesse may leave the club soon
Tanner Tessmann – A-
Tessmann is the surprise that no one was truly expecting. He might rival Ryan Hollingshead as the most versatile player in the club.
His athleticism allowed him this year to play different positions really well. He covered ground as a defensive midfielder and got goals as a striker. He also keeps the ball at his feet and doesn’t lose the ball constantly.
Like Damus, he could be a tool that FC Dallas uses for a long time. His raw ability at being good at a lot of things is useful, as we’ve seen from Hollingshead’s tenure as an FC Dallas player.
Reggie Cannon – B+
I know Reggie being this low on the list might be shocking to some of you, but there is a good reason for it.
We all saw how good Reggie was last year: he was undoubtedly the best player for the club in 2018, and this has seen him just the ladder into the pool of players for the USMNT, as shown by his recent call-up to the Gold Cup roster earlier this week. His quality has created this high bar that fans expect him to reach regularly.
Well, he hasn’t done that consistently. I don’t think this is Kellyn Acosta Syndrome, where the player begins to play poorly after an international tournament. It probably is fatigue from being relied on so much week in and week out, which shows why Reynolds’ growth makes many fans really excited. But this doesn’t clear the fact that Cannon hasn’t been outstanding.
He doesn’t need to be, and no one is expecting him to be the star every weekend. But some of the mistakes he is making during games is confusing, like the lack of communication between him and Barrios that led to Ali Adnan’s goal a couple of weeks ago.
Maybe we shouldn’t be used to a perfect Reggie Cannon performance every week, but his game right now is definitely not what it was last year.
Thomas Roberts – B+
We Knew that Thomas Roberts was good and that the creation of the North Texas team was going to aid his development. But thanks to Luchi, we’ve seen him actually aid the first team at a constant rate throughout the season, as he’s played only 180 minutes for NTSC.
Like Cerrillo, Thomas is just very comfortable in the system Luchi has created, as he is composed most of the time. He is so composed, that sometimes he looks lazy and lethargic, but his passing and vision show his attentiveness throughout matches.
His performances aren’t something to write home about, however. In the games he has played in Pomykal’s absence, he has performed slightly better than Aranguiz, and the key word is slight. He has a lot of promise, which is why he was invited by Bayern Munich to train for a week last summer. But there are moments in matches this season with FC Dallas that he gets bullied off the ball, and he sometimes he drifts too much, isolating himself from the match.
There is a reason for excitement, but there needs to be a caution as well. Rushed development is as bad as no development. When the roster gets to full fitness after the Gold Cup, he needs to be given matches with North Texas instead of those sporadic moments with FC Dallas.
Jonathan Gomez – B+
The kid is fifteen years old.
This is what was supposed to happen with a player like Reynolds. Access to professional minutes would probably mean that Reynolds would help the first team more consistently today.
Gomez is a U17 talent that is more than a year younger than his counterparts in the U17 pool. He hasn’t been amazing, but that is what is supposed to expect for a 15-year-old in a professional setting. He is definitely one that will benefit from NTSC and one that will only grow with the number of opportunities given to him by this club.
Gibran Rayo – B+
Rayo is a weird case. He is listed as a forward on the roster, he has the stats of a striker on his USSDA page, but at the same time, he isn’t being used as a striker. It makes sense when a player like Ricardo Pepi is on the roster, but it still weird.
The great part is that Rayo looks good as the box to box midfielder position that the club is testing him in. Although the sample size is relatively difficult to test, as he has started only one game, he plays well in that 8 role.
The experiment of making Rayo more flexible position-wise is one that fans may want to follow The club may use NTSC more this way if the Rayo experiment turns out to be successful.
He is also one of the few on this roster that would benefit from minutes in college. He probably won’t be signed by FC Dallas, and NTSC already has quality going through the ranks. He, however, is definitely one that the club could use in the future, especially if he becomes more and more adaptable.
David Rodriguez – B+
David and Pepi lit up the USSDA with the U17’s last fall, so it was obvious that the two would see minutes with North Texas.
He hasn’t done as well as Pepi and his big brother, but David still has performed very well. Expectations for fans were minimal and many were surprised to see him play so well, especially when he played with Arturo.
He hasn’t been jaw-dropping like his U17 counterpart, but his speed and ability has messed with defenders all over League 1. He will probably hang in NTSC more net year, as he is not yet ready for that jump to the big team.
Brecc Evans – B
Evans got injured at an unfortunate time. He was starting every game and playing really well with Montgomery. But then he got injured and now has to work back to full fitness.
He was a surprise signing and starter at the beginning of the year, as he wasn’t as high profile academy player as someone like Brandon Terwege. However, his Hedges-like defending ability was really good for the NTSC side at the beginning of the season. If it weren’t for this injury, he would be higher on the list.
It is worth noting that since his injury the NTSC backline has been leaking like crazy, given up six goals in two games against Toronto FC II. They miss him severely, which speaks to his value.
Dante Sealy – B
His high point came last week when NTSC faced Richmond to a 3-0 win in Virginia, where Sealy had a goal and two assists. But he has mostly been a bench player for NTSC, due to the quality from all the other attacking options for North Texas. His quality is undeniable, but he has yet been able to become a staple of Quill’s regulars.
Him being signed by the first team has a weight to it. He definitely has the ability that the club sees valuable. He probably will benefit from a two-week stint with the Bayern Munich reserves, if the club is still doing things like that.
Unless Damus or the Rodriguez brothers slow down, however, he won’t start consistently anytime soon.
Carlos Avilez – B
Avilez has been good. In a league that goalkeeper bluffs are a weekly occurrence, he has mostly been able to skip such mishaps. His performances haven’t been awe-inspiring, and that has led to his solid performances getting shadowed by the attacking quality of NTSC.
Also, performances of the defense have gone down since the beginning of the season, with nine goals conceded in the last five games. Avilez is one of the constants during this time period.
Maybe him being part of the club via USL contract gave me a high bar of expectation, which hasn’t been met. Maybe Callum Montgomery and Evans are that important to the team defensively. He will be a good keeper in the future, and the club is smart to continue his development. Nonetheless, he needs to be more spectacular to truly catch the eyes of the fans who are already watching the attack of NTSC more than the defense
Oscar Romero – B-
Romero has been training with the FC Dallas squad since last fall, according to training reports. During preseason and the beginning of the season, he was starting and playing well. He recently, however, fell off the face of the earth, playing just 3 minutes in the last two games.
Like Dante, Oscar is a victim of others performing well. But it isn’t the same case for a 22-year-old than it is for a 15-year-old. Dante will continue with the club until a massive club turns their heads his way. Oscar doesn’t have that luxury.
There probably wasn’t much of an expectation for Romero to sign with the first team. He was probably signed to NTSC to help young players and to fill in the numbers on the roster. He needs to start performing however if he doesn’t want to make the decisions of the club officials easier.
Johan Gomez -B-
A goal in 291 minutes isn’t great, especially when you have Gomez’s reputation as a goalscorer.
Pepi’s rise probably didn’t help Gomez, but there still an expectation placed on a player of his quality, an expectation he has missed by a long shot. Pepi’s imminent departure to greener pastures will help Gomez get more opportunities, but there are other players that will probably want that spot.
His performances need to be raised up a notch if he wants to impress the FC Dallas staff and those college coaches.
Jorge Almaguer – B-
With Jatta’s position change to center back in the wake of Evans’ injury, there was a defensive mid position open for Almaguer. Bissainthe got there first.
Bissainthe has been good at that role, but that was Jorge’s to lose. Since then, he hasn’t been able to push him out. Maybe with Bissainthe Haitian national team call up, Almaguer will get more of a chance.
I’m pretty sure Almaguer’s natural position isn’t at the 6, as he was playing in the fullback role for the academy as early as last year. Maybe due to the competition there, he has attempted to switch positions. He has to step up his game, however, because there is talent at the defensive midfielder position at the club’s disposal.
I would love to see him at the left back role in rotation with Jonathan Gomez, to create a source of competition there.
Brandon Servania – B-
Servania, like many others this low on the list, is a victim of others stepping up quicker. It seems that a relatively poor preseason relegated him to an NTSC role, which is well below expectation of him this season, with Kellyn Acosta’s departure last year.
He was once regarded highly by the late US Soccer legend Fernando Clavijo when Clavijo called him the next Kellyn. But it has taken him more than a season to make his debut for the club, and because of Cerrillo’s insanely quick rise to fame, he hasn’t been able to crack the first team much.
He has talent, enough talent to start a couple games last month in the U20 World Cup with the US in Poland. However, he needs to jump at his next opportunity with the first team if he wants to be a permanent part of Luchi’s plans in the near future.
Cesar Murillo – C+
Another experienced piece of the North Texas squad, Murillo hasn’t been able to push the kids much, with only 3 starts this season. He has plugged in when needed, but he hasn’t been able to make himself a constant on Coach Quill’s starting eleven, which is what he needs being 23 years old.
His future as a part of the organization is fuzzy, but if he can push more and more into the starting eleven, he could make his value very difficult to lose. Cesar has to step up, however, to make this a reality.
What do you guys think of the comments and ratings?
Michael Collodi, Seth Wilson, Zachary Schrawl, Nicolas Carrera, Diego Letayf, Hector Montalvo, Julian Hinojosa, Cesar Garcia, and Benjamin Redzic are not on the list due to not enough or no minutes played for either side.
Featured Image: Dallas Morning News