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The MLS Summer Transfer window has ended and FC Dallas has made both incoming and outgoing moves in the transfer market. We’ll break down all of those moves and analyze both and short-term and long-term impacts of what the club has done in this transfer window.

INCOMING

Edwin Gyasi – On loan from CSKA Sofia

Gyasi was the first (and ultimately, the only) first-team signing that fell in the transfer window. Gyasi’s loan from Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia was made official by the club on July 1st, but Gyasi was not able to be officially registered on the MLS roster and play in MLS matches until the transfer window officially opened on July 9th. As is standard with the club and the league as a whole, the terms of the deal were not immediately made available but it was announced that Gyasi was signed using TAM on a loan deal through the end of the season with an option to buy his contract following the expiration of the loan. Since signing, Gyasi has made 3 MLS appearances and played a total of 65 minutes without having yet recorded a goal or an assist.

Richard Danso (North Texas SC) – On loan from West African Football Academy

The other incoming moves made during the transfer window were not first-team players. Richard Danso signed for North Texas SC on a season-long loan on July 16th. Danso, an 18-year-old winger who has already been capped by Ghana’s U-23 team, came over from Ghanaian club West African Football Academy after having ITC issues following an attempted move to Tunisian giants Étoile Sportive du Sahel. Danso has appeared in all 3 North Texas SC games since his signing, playing a total of 112 minutes without having yet tallied a goal or an assist.

Imanol Almaguer (North Texas SC) – Signed from FC Dallas Academy

The final signing that fell on the last day of the MLS transfer window was another North Texas SC signing. Imanol Almaguer, an 18-year-old defender, and midfielder, was signed by the club from the FC Dallas Academy to a three-year contract on August 7th. Almaguer is a true FC Dallas Academy success story, having joined the club as a 9-year-old back in 2010. Almaguer has already been a regular in North Texas SC’s inaugural season playing as an amateur. Almaguer has made 13 appearances, 11 of which were starts, and pitched in with a goal. Almaguer’s 1,068 minutes are good enough for the fifth-most on the team and he’s shown a great deal of versatility playing both full-back positions and playing in midfield as a holding midfielder.


OUTGOING

Carlos Gruezo – Transferred to FC Augsburg

It seems to have become a trend in recent seasons for FC Dallas to sell a major player for a big chunk of change and 2019 was no exception. On July 2nd, FC Dallas broke their outgoing transfer record and sold Ecaudorian defensive midfielder Carlos Gruezo to Bundesliga club FC Augsburg for $4.5 million, potentially rising to $6.2 million. Gruezo was signed by Dallas prior to the 2016 season and made 98 MLS appearances in 3 and half seasons, tallying 3 goals and 7 assists. He was a regular on the team sheet and a huge part of the club’s US Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield winning season in 2016. However, Gruezo had previously expressed a desire to return to Europe at some point in his career and with the emergence of homegrowns Brandon Servania and Edwin Cerrillo in the same position, the club pulled the trigger and sold Gruezo back to Germany.

Pablo Aránguiz – Loaned to Unión Española

The other outgoing move in the window also involved a young South American midfielder. On July 29th, FC Dallas officially announced that  Chilean attacking midfielder Pablo Aránguiz would move back to former club Unión Española on a loan deal lasting through the end of the season. Aránguiz, who has appeared in 20 MLS matches without recording a goal or an assist since joining in July 2018, has struggled to adapt to Luchi Gonzalez’s 4-3-3 formation that does not use a traditional #10, Aránguiz’s best position. Playing largely as a false winger, Aránguiz has been part of a group of attacking players unable to make their mark at the left wing spot and has generally struggled to get settled in Dallas, with reports of homesickness being a major draw for his move back to Chile.


ANALYSIS

“Meaningful reinforcements.” So much of the FC Dallas transfer window discussion has revolved around those two words. The words, of course, came from club president and owner Dan Hunt in an interview posted on the club’s Twitter account on May 21st, over a month before the window actually opened. The interview itself doesn’t contain any real substance or details and sounds mostly like Hunt being optimistic and trying to get fans excited for upcoming window, pretty standard stuff any fan across the league would expect to hear from their club’s front office prior to a transfer window. But roughly a month later, Hunt conducted another interview:

On Fox 4 News, Hunt went into a bit more detail, some of which has turned out to be correct and some of which has turned out to be technically correct. Hunt mentions a potential sale of a player to Europe. This, of course, ended up being the sale of Carlos Gruezo to FC Augsburg. But, of course, the key takeaway from this interview was Hunt’s mention of “2 or 3 additions to the roster.” Naturally, this interview combined with the previous interview led Dallas fans to wildly speculate on the players Dallas would be bringing in.

Ultimately, Hunt’s statement of making additions to the roster was technically correct. Because his signing happened a couple weeks prior to the transfer window he was not mentioned above, but days after this interview FC Dallas signed Ricardo Pepi to a homegrown contract. A week and a half later, the loan deal for Edwin Gyasi was announced. The following day, Carlos Gruezo’s sale to Augsburg was announced. The 2 additions to the roster that were mentioned had been made and a player had been sold to Europe. The sticking point for fans has ultimately been the “meaningful reinforcements” quote. So, are these reinforcements actually meaningful?

In the short term, it is hard to answer that question in the affirmative. Pepi lit up USL League One for North Texas SC and many fans and media members see Pepi as the heir apparent to the number 9 position and the ultimate solution to the ongoing striker issue that has plagued Dallas for years. But Pepi is a 16-year-old and, although he has made 2 MLS appearances since signing on June 21st, it has been clear that he isn’t ready for the level of play in MLS. Edwin Gyasi has also failed to truly impress to this point.

To be fair to the Ghanaian, he hasn’t even played a full 90 minutes, or even 90 minutes in total across his 3 appearances, but he has not looked like much more than another potential option on the wing. He certainly has not shown anything to this point that would identify him as some kind of major impact signing that is going to make any significant contributions to the last third of the season for Dallas. It should also be noted that Dallas can still make roster additions until the MLS roster freeze on August 30th. Dallas can no longer sign players from overseas, but they can still make trades within MLS and they can always sign players from North Texas SC.

In a post-transfer window Facebook Live interview conducted by Gina Miller, technical director Andre Zanotta repeatedly hammered home the point that the club was looking toward and thinking about the future in this transfer window. Both Zanotta and Luchi Gonzalez have made the point that any major signing from overseas would only play in a handful of games in the 2019 season, essentially saying that it isn’t worth it to try to make the splash in this summer window and that it would make more sense to pursue these kinds of moves in the winter window when any addition would have a full offseason to acclimate. The argument is a strong one but, as evidenced by the comments on the Facebook Live video, this isn’t what fans want to hear, especially after the club president conducted multiple interviews promising meaningful reinforcements in the summer transfer window.

The outgoing transfers have been slightly less controversial. Fans certainly don’t like to see major players like Carlos Gruezo sold mid-season, but when the club is pulling in a club record transfer fee, it is hard to get terribly upset. With a new manager and new system in place, there will be more moves made like the Aranguiz loan as well, which feels very much like a deal meant to clear out some dead wood and money to be spent on a player that fits what Luchi Gonzalez wants to implement.

This transfer window saga has made it clear that the club’s transition to the development club model is still very much a transition. Tellingly, the signings made by North Texas SC mirror FC Dallas completely. Two players promoted through the development pipeline – Pepi and Almaguer, and two players brought in on loan from overseas – Gyasi and Danso (and they’re both Ghanaian!).

The strategy and the concept is not hard to see but that does not make it any less disappointing for fans to watch other MLS clubs make significant moves in the transfer window while FCD seems content to go with what they’ve got. Everyone involved and invested in the club will hope that all of this will pay off in the long run for the club but right now, it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.


What do you think about the moves FCD made in the transfer window? Should the club have splashed some cash to bring in someone in this window or does the idea of waiting until the winter make more sense? Who would you have liked to see the club sign? Should the club have tried to sell anyone else or did they make a mistake even selling anyone at all?
What do you see as the future of FC Dallas going forward? Sound off in the comments below!

Featured Image: @officialmattguilford
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