This week has seen a flood of activity from the FC Dallas front office with three players selected in the later rounds of the MLS SuperDraft and five players signing with North Texas SC
? NEWS: We've signed former @FCDallas Academy players Philip Ponder and Gibran Rayo!
Welcome to the club, guys!
— North Texas SC (@northtexasSC) January 15, 2020
The roster actions this week happened in three waves, this article will address them in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent signings, the signing of former FC Dallas academy players Philip Ponder and Gibran Rayo.
Being former academy players is where the similarities between Ponder and Rayo basically stop. Ponder played four years of college soccer at SMU, anchoring the best defensive unit in college soccer in 2019 that ended the season with 11 shutouts. Ponder’s profile is very similar to previous FC Dallas homegrown signings like Kris Reaves and Jordan Cano, center backs who played a full college career before moving on to professional soccer. The obvious difference here, and what will be very interesting to watch with Ponder, is that Ponder is signing with North Texas SC, something that wasn’t available in the past for players like Reaves and Cano, who instead had to go on loans outside of the club to earn playing time. Ponder will compete with Brecc Evans, Callum Montgomery and 2020 first-round pick Nkosi Burgess for playing time in center defense in 2020.
Gibran Rayo is on the other side of the homegrown coin. An 18-year-old forward/midfielder, Rayo has been a standout on FCD’s academy teams for a few years and featured 12 times for North Texas SC during the 2019 season.
With quite a few regulars from the 2019 roster leaving the team, Rayo looks likely to see more regular playing time in the 2020 season. This is very much a natural progression and Rayo is, in many ways, a case study for what Dallas wants to accomplish with North Texas SC, moving players from the academy into playing with both NTSC and the academy and finally signing them to an NTSC contract and, hopefully, culminating in a homegrown signing with the first team. Rayo’s continued development will be fun to watch at GlobeLife Park in 2020.
? NEWS: We've signed 3️⃣ international players to our 2020 roster!
— North Texas SC (@northtexasSC) January 14, 2020
One day earlier, North Texas SC announced a trio of international signings with Juan Manuel Alvarez coming on a one-year loan from Monterrey and one-year deals for a pair of Brazilians: Pedro “Cuadrado” Conceição Alves, signed from Club Guarani in Paraguay, and Alisson dos Santos Correa who came from Sao Paolo FC.
It is tough to find a great deal of information or footage about these players, they are all under the age of 21 and have very little first-team experience under their belts at this point in time. Alvarez and Alves are both defenders, right-backs specifically, while Correa is a defensive-minded midfielder, likely brought in to play a similar kind of position as the departed Alfusainey Jatta.
With the current logjam at right back in the first team, bringing in multiple full-backs is an interesting decision, but with so little known about these players, they may end up playing in central defense or even left-back as well. These kinds of signings for North Texas SC seem likely to become commonplace, especially with technical director Andre Zanotta’s deep connections in Brazil.
The Draft Picks
— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) January 13, 2020
The first action of the week taken by FCD was to select three players on the second day of the draft. Although a significant number of clubs chose to pass on their picks in rounds 3 and 4 of the SuperDraft, FCD made selections with all three picks, grabbing Stanford midfielder Derek Waldeck with their single 3rd round pick, Saint Mary’s College forward Anders Engebretsen with their first 4th round pick and Loyola University midfielder Aidan Megally with their second and final 4th round pick.
As is the case with virtually all 3rd and 4th round SuperDraft picks in the modern MLS landscape, Waldeck, Engebretsen, and Megally will all face a tough task to make the FC Dallas roster. Waldeck and Megally as midfielders, in particular, will come into an extremely crowded FC Dallas midfield that becomes even more crowded when you take a look at the North Texas SC midfield. Barring any incredible performances in the preseason, all three players’ best shot at sticking with the organization after the preseason would be earning themselves a contract with North Texas SC.
All three players played four years at their respective universities. Waldeck was a member of the All-Pac 12 first team in 2019, Engebretsen was a member of the 2019 All-West Coast Conference First Team and Megally was named the Missouri Valley Conference player of the year for the 2019 season.
Even with the great college soccer pedigree, it may be an uphill battle for these three playersto even make the North Texas SC roster, their progress will be interesting to track during the preseason, especially if any of them manage to make a surprisingly strong impression.
What do you think about the plethora of signings for North Texas SC? Are you in favor of these kinds of international signings or would you prefer a complete focus on homegrowns for NTSC?
Do you think the draft picks will manage to make either the FCD or NTSC rosters? Sound off in the comments below!
Featured Image: SMU Athletics