The 2019 season has come to an end for FC Dallas and the offseason has begun. We’ll take a look at every member of FCD’s squad in 2019 and give them a rating based on their play and impact on the team during the season.
Jesse Gonzalez: B+
Starting at the back with the starting goalkeeper, 24-year-old homegrown Jesse Gonzalez comes in with a B+ for the 2019 season. Jesse started 32 out of 34 regular-season games, the highest total of his career. FC Dallas went 13-11-8 with Jesse in goal, plus the one playoff loss to Seattle. Jesse gets high marks this season for his continued high level of shot-stopping and making huge strides in his distribution under Luchi Gonzalez. In previous seasons, Jesse often went long aimlessly, hoping to find a teammate as opposed to consciously picking his passes.
Under Luchi, Jesse has largely played out of the back but improved his accuracy on long kicks as well. Jesse is kept out of a higher grade by continuing to have some issue dealing with set pieces and dead ball situations and a lack of maturity, most notably coming out in the playoff game against Seattle where he was extremely fortunate to have played the full 120 minutes. Jesse’s future with FCD will certainly be an interesting discussion point for the front office during the offseason.
Jimmy Maurer: B
Jimmy Maurer is difficult to grade, he only made 2 appearances in 2 starts for FC Dallas this season, playing early in the season in a loss to Philadelphia and then later in June in a 2-2 draw away to San Jose. Jimmy was almost always the goalkeeper on the bench for FCD and ended up playing more games and minutes with North Texas SC than he did with FCD, a departure from his first season with FCD where he consistently battled with Jesse Gonzalez for minutes throughout the season. Maurer is probably one of the better backups in the league and is a player that FCD should attempt to retain if possible, especially if there are any plans in the near future to move on from Jesse Gonzalez.
Kyle Zobeck: N/A
Zobeck didn’t play a single minute for the first team in 2019, mimicking his 2018 season. Zobeck is a great teammate and locker room presence and maybe one of the best third keepers in the league. He played a significant chunk of minutes with North Texas SC, including a fantastic game in the playoff final, helping NTSC lift the first-ever USL League One title. If Jesse Gonzalez is moved in the offseason, Zobeck would be a great choice to keep around as a backup keeper.
Ryan Hollingshead: A
Left-back was the one position that was up for grabs coming into the 2019 season. Marquinhos Pedroso returned following a decent second half of 2018 under Oscar Pareja and FCD drafted Johnny Nelson in the first round of the SuperDraft. But Pedroso was injured at the start of preseason, giving Ryan Hollingshead, mostly utilized as a utility man by Pareja, the chance to cement his place as the starting left-back, and he went above and beyond what anybody could have expected from him going into the season. Hollingshead was one of the highest-scoring defenders in the league with 6 goals and an additional 3 assists. His defensive abilities were much improved on previous seasons and he was selected to multiple MLS Best XI lists. After years of searching for a top-quality left-back, it seems that FCD had him on their roster the entire time.
Reggie Cannon: A-
Reggie followed up his first full season starting in MLS with another quality season at right-back. Particularly in the first half of the season, Reggie was an absolute force from right-back, bombing up and down the flank and combining very well with Michael Barrios on the right side. The only thing that has dropped his rating slightly is a slight dip in performance following his time with the USMNT at the Gold Cup. There should be an emphasis placed on the “slight” part of that statement as Reggie still performed at a high level but between his MLS minutes and USMNT minutes, there certainly seemed to be a part of the season where Reggie was suffering a bit. He is still a young player in this league and will continue to grow and develop. There were some transfer rumors regarding Reggie during the summer but nothing concrete ever developed. With Reggie’s prominence continuing to grow, it will be interesting to see how FC Dallas deals with a potential bids for the homegrown right back over the winter.
Matt Hedges: B+
Another quality season at center back down for Matt Hedges. The former MLS defender of the year was asked to improve his passing game in Luchi Gonzalez’s new possession-based system and Hedges was certainly up to the task. Hedges started every game but one in 2019, only missing out due to a red card picked up against LAFC. He was his usual steady self at the back but there were very notable mistakes over the course of the season that contribute to this perhaps lower than an expected grade. Even with this grade, Hedges is one of the best center backs in MLS and seems to have little interest in moving on from FC Dallas, which is great news for both the club and the fans.
Reto Ziegler: B+
A matching grade for Hedges’ center back partner Reto Ziegler. Like Hedges, Ziegler was solid and steady throughout the year, his quality in passing and possession really shone through under Luchi Gonzalez and he captained the team on a consistent basis. Ziegler started all but two games in 2019 and chipped in with 5 goals, 4 from the penalty spot and one from a beautiful free-kick. Ziegler, like Hedges, has his grade drop slightly due to some mistakes over the course of the season and FCD’s persistent inability to defend set-pieces. The center backs should be a huge part of the organization of the defense in set-piece situations and too often FCD gave up goals and opportunities from dead balls that really hurt them over the course of the season. Ziegler is getting up there in age so it will be interesting to see if he returns for a 3rd season with FCD or perhaps tries to head back to finish out his career in Europe.
The Brazilian center back had a decent first season with FCD after coming over from Gremio in the winter. Bressan played in 18 games, picking up 12 starts, with an additional game and start in the playoffs as well. Most of Bressan’s starts came during the Gold Cup. With Reggie Cannon away with the USMNT, Bressan stepped in as the starting right back in his place. Bressan is primarily a center back so its perhaps a bit harsh to judge him on his play outside his primary position, but the Brazilian was mostly solid both as a right-back and as a center back. He certainly didn’t seem as comfortable as a right-back, particularly in possession, but he performed admirably given the situation. The biggest concern with Bressan is his tendency to make a rash challenge, he’ll need to clean that up going forward. If Reto Ziegler doesn’t return for the 2020 season, a Bressan/Hedges center back partnership seems most likely.
John Nelson: B
Nelson was one of two first-round SuperDraft picks for FCD in the offseason. Nelson is a left-back primarily that can also play on the right. After a strong showing in the preseason, he looked to be pushing for playing time from the outset. In the end, Nelson made 9 appearances, 4 of those being starts and generally looked like a very promising young player. He also got a significant amount of game time with North Texas SC and will look to push on in 2020 and continue to battle for minutes. Reggie Cannon’s potential departure could really open things up for him as well.
Bryan Reynolds: B
Reynolds barely makes this list with an actual grade with his 9 sub appearances and a single start for the first team in 2019. Reynolds only start against Montreal actually came as a winger but he spent the majority of his season playing right back for North Texas SC, so it is clear that the club sees his future as a right back. The 18 year old homegrown looked very impressive in his limited minutes at the MLS level and his continued development may lessen the blow if FC Dallas does end up selling Reggie Cannon either in the upcoming offseason or in the summer transfer window in 2020.
Callum Montgomery: N/A
Montgomery was the other first-round SuperDraft pick but, unlike Nelson, he was unable to break through and get any first-team playing time. He did make the bench on a few occasions when players were absent due to various reasons and he got a huge amount of playing time for North Texas SC but it remains to be seen if Montgomery has any real future in the first team at FCD.
Moises Hernandez: N/A
Hernandez spent the full season on loan in the USL Championship with San Antonio FC. After an underwhelming preseason, it seems unlikely that Moises has much of a role with FCD going forward.
Paxton Pomykal: A
After what felt like ages of waiting for the much-hyped homegrown midfielder to start playing regular minutes for the first team, the 2019 season was Paxton Pomykal’s breakout year. Paxton played in 25 games, starting 20, and chipped in with 2 goals and 5 assists. On the surface, these numbers may not look overly impressive, but anyone who watched FC Dallas and Paxton regularly will know how vitally important he was to the success of the team offensively. Paxton’s ability to play between the lines and play in possession were vital to the team under Luchi Gonzalez’s system and his absence was strongly felt when he was missing, particularly during the U20 World Cup, where he was also a standout. In the second half of the season, he dealt with some injuries and was in and out of the lineup, often coming off the bench instead of starting. But after signing a new contract and getting a big pay increase, Paxton looks to be a key player for FCD going forward, at least until the offers from Europe become undeniable.
Brandon Servania: A
Servania started the 2019 season shuffled down the pecking order in midfield. For the first half of the season, he spent all of his time playing for North Texas SC and it seemed that the 2019 season was largely going to be a developmental year for him. That was the case until he went to the U20 World Cup, along with fellow homegrowns Paxton Pomykal and Edwin Cerrillo. Servania didn’t play a huge amount of minutes at the U20 World Cup but after returning from Poland, things changed for Servania and his role on the team, and things changed even more following the sale of Carlos Gruezo to FC Augsburg. Servania was given the chance to play the number 8 role in midfield as Bryan Acosta was moved back to replace the departed Gruezo. Servania took his chance brilliantly and was one of the club’s best players in the second half of the season, ending the season with 18 games played, 13 started, 2 goals and 3 assists in MLS play. Servania will look to push on in 2020 and lockdown that position for the entire season.
Bryan Acosta: B
The Honduran international was FCD’s big winter signing, coming in from Tenerife as a Designated Player. Purely as a DP and being the second-highest-paid player on the roster (following Gruezo’s departure), Acosta has been a bit disappointing in 2019. Only 2 goals and 1 assist in 26 games played look like a poor return, but it doesn’t tell the entire story of Acosta. Acosta was brought in to play in the number 8 spot, the spot that the previously mentioned Brandon Servania made his own in the second half of the season. Acosta did play that position and played it relatively well in the start of the season, however, following the sale of Carlos Gruezo, Acosta was shifted to play as a number 6, as the most defensive midfielder, dropping between the center backs and primarily dictating the build-up as opposed to pushing forward into the box. It took some adjustment and growing pains but Acosta really came into his own in that spot by the end of the year. He still took far too many long shots over the course of the season, to the frustration of fans, but Acosta will look to build on a positive end to 2019 when the 2020 season kicks off.
For a deeper look at Bryan Acosta’s 2019 season, check out Ismael Belkoura’s FC Dallas Nation player review!
Edwin Cerrillo: B
The homegrown midfielder was probably the biggest surprise of 2019 for FCD. He was signed during preseason from the U19 team and most assumed that he would spend the majority of the season playing for North Texas SC, occasionally making the bench or playing in cup games, but Cerrillo ended up beating out Brandon Servania in the beginning of the year when the Dallas midfield was a bit more crowded and put himself into position to back up Carlos Gruezo as a defensive midfielder. He started 7 straight games from the end of March through the beginning of May before getting picked to the U20 World Cup team. Unfortunately for Edwin, his season with the first team derailed a bit from there and he only made 4 more starts over the rest of the season. Regardless, it was a fantastic debut season for the 19-year-old who thrust himself into the midfield picture going forward.
Thomas Roberts: B
The 18 year old gets a bit of a benefit to his grade by not having played particularly much. Roberts made 6 appearances with 3 starts in MLS for the first team, spending the majority of the season playing (very well) for North Texas SC. That being said, Roberts earns a B here because he does look very, very promising and, other than by physical appearance, he didn’t look remotely out of place at the MLS level. Roberts will look to push on from a promising 2019 season and establish himself as a bigger part of the squad in 2020.
Jacori Hayes: C+
After a very promising 2018 season, Jacori Hayes had a bit of a disappointing 2019. He largely played the same role, a bench player who makes occasional starts due to missing players. Most of Jacori’s 8 starts came during the Gold Cup and U20 World Cup with a lot of Dallas midfielders missing, he also made an additional 11 substitute appearances, typically near the end of games to help close things out. Down the stretch, he also spent a few games playing with North Texas SC. Jacori certainly is an MLS quality midfielder, but it is hard to say whether he is best served to continue on in a crowded Dallas midfield, it wouldn’t be particularly surprising to see him with another team in 2020.
Pablo Aranguiz: F
20 games, 10 starts, 0 goals, 0 assists. That’s Pablo Aranguiz’s career MLS stat line with FC Dallas. It is why he was loaned back to Union Española in his native Chile, the club FC Dallas bought him from, at the end of July. Aranguiz was brought in to play as a traditional number 10 and he failed to adjust himself to the left wing position he was aked to play in his 11 appearances and 7 starts under Luchi Gonzalez in 2019. For whatever reason, homesickness, troubles to adjust, Aranguiz has been nothing short of a complete failure in Dallas and it would be shocking to see him play in Frisco again.
Eric Alexander: N/A
Never played a minute after being brought him following his release from Wooden Spoon winning FC Cincinnati, only appearing on the bench for the playoff game against Seattle. Will almost certainly not be back in 2020.
Michael Barrios: A
A fifth FC Dallas season down for Michael Barrios and he again has shown his status, for better or worse, as FCD’s most dangerous attacker. Barrios tallied 5 goals in his 32 appearances, down one from 2018, but recorded 15 assists, tied for 3rd best in the league with Carlos Vela. The story for Barrios hasn’t changed much, there isn’t a defender in the league that can consistently deal with his pace and agility but he struggles to consistently find the back of the net. That being said, Barrios’ work rate is absolutely immense and his willingness to never give up on a ball is massive for a team that sometimes gets bogged down offensively. As long as Barrios wants to be here, it seems likely that he will be ever-present in the lineup.
Jesus Ferreira: B+
After two seasons of virtually zero playing time for the first team, Ferreira’s playing time exploded in 2019, playing in every game except for one and making 29 starts. Ferreira finished as the club’s highest goal scorer with 8 and added an additional 6 assists. He spent the first half of the season largely playing as a number 9, the high striker but as the season went on, he shifted into a midfield role, the “free 8” spot that Paxton Pomykal played so well in the first part of the season. There’s still work to do in that position for Ferreira but there are very promising signs and Luchi Gonzalez seems to see the 18-year-old as the future in that position. Ferreira’s development and potential inclusion in US youth national teams going forward will be fascinating to watch.
Zdenek Ondrasek: B
For the first two-thirds of the season, Ondrusek looked a player out of his depth and was used by FCD on social media more often than he was used on the pitch, failing to score a goal through his first 10 appearances, 9 of which substituted appearances. Everything changed when he was subbed on for the second half against Montreal with Dallas down 3-0. He scored his first goal of the season and didn’t look back from there, scoring another 6 in the final 7 games of the season. His attitude was infectious across the team and was a huge part of the reason that Dallas was able to scrape into the final playoff spot. Now that he is comfortable in the country, with his teammates and with his coaching staff, Kobra will look to continue his hot form into 2020, especially leading up to potential inclusion in his nation’s squad for Euro 2020.
Ricardo Pepi: B-
Similar to Thomas Roberts, this grade isn’t fully based on Pepi’s time with the first team. The 16-year-old made 7 appearances for a total of 71 minutes in the 2019 season after being signed to a homegrown contract in June. Prior to signing for the first team, Pepi terrorized USL League One defenses with North Texas SC in the first half of their season. Pepi should lead the line for the US in the upcoming U17 World Cup and will look to push on and become a regular with the first team in 2020.
Santiago Mosquera: C+
Due to a combination of inconsistent play and injury woes, the Colombian winger’s time with FC Dallas has been a disappointment. He made fewer appearances (23), started fewer games (12), scored fewer goals (3) and assisted fewer times (2) than he did in the 2018 season as he struggled with injuries and trying to fight his way into the lineup. At times, he showed the kind of quality that brought him to Dallas as a Designated Player before the 2018 season, but too often Mosquera has either not been on the field or not done enough on the field to warrant his status on the team. Mosquera’s future with FCD will be an interesting story to track during the offseason.
Dominique Badji: C+
Perhaps no player has drawn the ire of FC Dallas fans more than Dom Badji in 2019. After being acquired via a trade with Colorado in the summer of 2018, Badji hasn’t delivered as a goal scoring number 9. In fact, as the season progressed, Badji played far more on FCD’s troubled left wing than he did as a striker. In either position, Badji was just disappointing, despite his 6 goals and 3 assists. At striker, Badji often struggled to get involved in the game and squandered his few opportunities while on the wing, he often seemed unable to sync up with the style of play desired by Luchi Gonzalez. There’s no issue with Badji’s effort, but there are real questions about how he fits into this team going forward.
Francis Atuahene: C
Atuahene must be frustrated with his career to this point, simply due to his recurring injuries. Atuahene was FCD’s first round SuperDraft pick in 2018, but due to injuries, didn’t make an appearance, spending parts of the season on loan with OKC Energy in the USL Championship. Injury woes plagued Atuahene again as the 2019 season started and she spent some time on loan with Austin Bold FC before making a substitute appearance against San Jose, scoring one of FCD’s best goals of the season. That turned out to be Atuahene’s only appearance for FCD for the season but was a flash of the Ghanaian’s potential. With some attackers likely moving out of the picture in the offseason, Atuahene might have one more chance to get healthy and break through with Dallas.
Ema Twumasi: C
Twumasi, another 2018 SuperDraft pick, struggled to break into the first team with FCD in 2018, spending a lot of time on loan with OKC Energy in the USL Championship. This trend continued for Twumasi in 2019, spending the majority of the season on loan with Austin Bold FC, where he became an important part of their squad that made the playoffs in USL Championship. Twumasi made 2 substitute appearances for FCD in 2019. Twumasi may only have one more offseason to try to break through with Dallas.
Edwin Gyasi: F
There’s not much to say about Gyasi that hasn’t been said. This was the stat line for FC Dallas’ big (and only) summer signing in 2019: 4 appearances, 1 start, 82 minutes, 2 shots, 1 shot on goal. Gyasi made two virtually anonymous substitute appearances before getting a start against Orlando, where he was bizarrely subbed off after 30 minutes. He made one more appearance a couple games later against the Galaxy and wasn’t seen again. Of all the failures in recent seasons in scouting and signings, Gyasi may be the biggest dud.
Cristian Colmán: N/A
Colmán spent the majority of the season continuing to rehab following his torn ACL last season. When he did come back from that injury, he made some appearances with North Texas SC, failing to score a goal. He made the bench on a few occasions for FCD but never got onto the pitch in the 2019 season. It would be surprising to see him back in 2020.
What are your player grades for FC Dallas in 2019? Who was the team’s top performer? Who should the club show the door in the offseason? Sound off in the comments below!
Featured Image: Stewart F. House