FC Dallas is most famous for its renowned academy and youth programs which are consistently ranked as the best in the league and the country as a whole.
This week will we wrap up our Homegrown History series with part 3, highlighting all the homegrown player signings FC Dallas has made throughout the years.
Signed: January 3, 2018
After not making any homegrown signings throughout the 2017 season, FC Dallas quickly got back on track right after the start of 2018 when they signed Brandon Servania. Much like Reggie Cannon at UCLA, Servania spent a single season playing for Wake Forest before being signed to his homegrown deal. The Alabama native did not make an appearance with this first team in his debut season, spending the majority of his time on loan with the Tulsa Roughnecks in the USL.
With the creation of North Texas SC in 2019, Servania began that season regularly playing with NTSC and was on the outside looking in with the first team. But over the course of 2019, and following a successful U20 World Cup, Servania’s status in the team skyrocketed and he was a regular part of the starting eleven by the end of the season, ultimately making 13 starts in 2019.
His great 2019 culminated with a call-up to the USMNT for the January Camp. Servania missed the first two games of 2020 as he recovered from an injury, but he is poised to continue his ascent once play resumes.
Signed: January 10, 2018
With Walker Zimmerman departing to expansion team LAFC ahead of the 2018 season, FC Dallas was in sudden need of depth in defense. They turned to a pair of homegrowns who played college soccer, the first being Kris Reaves, who played at the University of Portland for his final two seasons after spending time at Wake Forest as well.
A strong center back who could also play fullback, Reaves started a couple games during the summer of 2018 but wasn’t able to really cement a spot in the team behind Matt Hedges and Reto Ziegler. Following the season, Reaves’ option was not picked up by the club and he signed with Switchbacks FC in the USL for the 2019 season where he was a regular starter and is poised to continue on that path for 2020.
Signed: January 11, 2018
The second defender signed to add depth for 2018, Jordan Cano, was signed just a day after Kris Reaves. Cano spent 4 seasons playing at SMU prior to being signed by FCD. He was unable to break into the team in any meaningful way in 2018 as he did not make a first-team appearance.
Cano spent some time on loan with OKC Energy and made a handful of appearances but, along with Reaves, his option was declined by the club following the season. Cano has not signed for a club since his release.
Signed: April 12, 2018
Signed to the first team after less than a full season in the FC Dallas academy, Chris Richards is the first-ever FC Dallas homegrown player to be transferred to a club in Europe. He’s also one of only a handful of homegrown players to have never made a first-team appearance and his time with the club is one of the shortest in club history.
Richards was brought into the FC Dallas academy after impressing with Texans SC Houston, whose academy director at that time, current North Texas SC head coach Eric Quill, had scouted him playing in his native Alabama. Very shortly after being signed to his homegrown deal, Richards was sent on a 10 day trial to massive German club Bayern Munich as part of a development partnership agreement between Bayern and FC Dallas. Richards impressed on trial and was offered a one year loan in July 2018.
Richards earned a significant amount of playing time with Bayern’s U19 team for the remainder of the 2018 calendar year and was ultimately offered a $1.5 million contract with Bayern in January 2019, at which point he made his move to Europe permanent. All this after never having played a professional match for FC Dallas. Following a standout performance at the 2019 U20 World Cup, Richards has spent the entirety of the 2019-2020 season playing for Bayern Munich II in the German 3rd tier.
He’ll hope to go on loan to continue to gain experience at a higher level to ultimately push into the first team at Bayern or another European club.
Signed: July 25, 2018
Another highly-hyped prospect ahead of his signing, Arkansas native Thomas Roberts was signed to a homegrown deal in the summer of the 2018 season as a 17-year-old. After being the subject of heavy interest from European clubs like Bayern Munich (Roberts was the other player on the 10 day trial with Chris Richards), locking down Roberts to a contract with FC Dallas was a significant win for the club. Roberts played out the remainder of the 2018 season with the U-19 academy team.
The 2019 season saw Luchi Gonzalez come in and the creation of North Texas SC. Roberts became a regular for NTSC, playing a significant amount of minutes against professional players for the first time in his career. Roberts also made a handful of appearances for the first team in 2019, with 6 appearances and 3 starts. He seemed poised to improve on that in 2020 and whenever play resumes he will certainly look to do just that.
Signed: February 14, 2019
The first homegrown signing of the Luchi Gonzalez era at FC Dallas, Edwin Cerrillo was a surprising signing when he was signed ahead of the 2019 season. Unlike many other homegrown signings around this time frame, Cerrillo was relatively under the radar. He was not massively hyped in the academy and his name was rarely listed among those likely to earn homegrown contracts, but he impressed with the first team in the preseason and was signed ahead of the club’s preseason trip to Arizona in 2019.
Most fans and observers would have expected Cerrillo to be a regular with North Texas SC in 2019 as an 18-year-old, with the Waco native possibly making a late sub appearance in MLS or earning a start in the early rounds of the US Open Cup. Instead, Cerrillo played so well that he forced his way into the first team, making 12 appearances, 11 of which were starts, in the first half of the season. Cerrillo’s play earned him a call up to the US U20 World Cup team, a group that he absolutely no experience with ahead of his first call up just before the U20 World Cup.
After returning from Poland, Cerrillo struggled with playing time and ultimately spent most of the second half of the season playing with North Texas SC. Cerrillo did not make an appearance in the first two games of 2020 but will look to build on a highly successful debut season.
Signed: February 26, 2019
In contrast with Edwin Cerrillo’s relatively low profile as a homegrown and academy player, Luchi Gonzalez’s second homegrown singing Dante Sealy was on the opposite end of the equation.
The son of former FC Dallas striker Scott Sealy, Dante has been a part of just about every age group of US Youth National Teams, most recently being called into the January U20 camp as a 17-year-old. Signed at the age of only 15, Sealy was signed so young partly to lock him down with FC Dallas. Because his father is from Trinidad, Sealy has a Trinidadian passport, which opens him up to opportunities in Europe that other young American players do not have.
Sealy has yet to make his first-team debut, spending the entirety of 2019 on loan with North Texas SC. Sealy will hope to push on in 2020 and make his first-team debut with the club.
Signed: June 21, 2019
Probably one of the most hyped FC Dallas academy players in the history of the academy, Ricardo Pepi was the first signing in North Texas SC history and would go on to start the 2019 season playing with North Texas SC, bagging a hat trick in both his and the club’s first-ever professional match. The El Paso native was highly thought of in his youth career and in many ways, the North Texas SC signing was done to lock him down for the first half of 2019 and give a glimpse into the future model of FC Dallas with the new USL League One side in the mix.
Pepi’s signing as a homegrown always seemed like a foregone conclusion and it was made official near the end of June. Pepi would go on to make a handful of sub appearances in the second half of the season for the first team, 7 in total for a total of 71 minutes. He picked back up with that role at the start of 2020 and scored his first career goal in the second game of the season to cap off a comeback against Montreal. With the pending arrival of Franco Jara, Pepi will look to fight to keep his role in place with the first team once play resumes.
Signed: January 13, 2020
After signing a series of teenagers, FCD returned to the college ranks when they signed Eddie Munjoma after 4 seasons at SMU. A standout fullback in college and a 2019 MAC Hermann semifinalist, Munjoma was not a particularly surprising signing, especially when considering the likelihood of Reggie Cannon making a move abroad in the near future.
Munjoma did not make the 18 in the first two games of the MLS season in 2020 and seemed poised to play the majority of the season with North Texas SC, a situation that still seems likely if/when the 2020 season is able to resume.
Signed: February 27, 2020
The most recent and final homegrown signing on our list, Tanner Tessmann was signed two days before the start of the 2020 season. To call Tessmann’s road to being signed a journey seems a bit of an understatement. After coming to the FC Dallas academy in 2016 from his native Birmingham, Alabama, Tessmann became a regular inclusion in lists of FC Dallas academy players who seemed likely to sign a homegrown contract.
The creation of North Texas SC in 2019 saw Tessmann get a significant amount of playing time as an academy player and he was regularly one of the best players on the pitch in his time with NTSC and it seemed like only a matter of time before the contract would come. However, Tessmann made a stunning decision late in 2019 when it was announced that he would be heading to Clemson to not only play college soccer but also kick for the football team as well for the 2020 college football season. However, Tessmann was still a part of the FCD academy until he left for college and continued to work with the team, ultimately being heavily included in FCD’s preseason ahead of the 2020 season.
Tessmann seemed to be getting an awfully large look in for a player who was heading to play two sports in college, he started multiple preseason games against other MLS sides and rumors of Tessmann signing a homegrown deal came back into the forefront. It was finally made official just two days before the season opener against Philadelphia. With injuries to Bryan Acosta and Brandon Servania, Tessmann ended up starting both of the first two games of the 2020 season, just two months after announcing his intention to head to Clemson.
Now a full-blown professional and member of the first team, Tessmann has massive amounts of potential and will look to pick up where he left off once play resumes.
This completes our homegrown history series! Who is your favorite FC Dallas homegrown player of all time?
Who do you see as having the biggest potential of the recent crop of homegrown?
Featured Image: Jessica Tobias/FC Dallas