With the FC Dallas offseason in full swing, their initial offseason roster moves were officially announced earlier this week. We’ll take a look at each of those decisions.
An absolute no-brainer with how he played in the second half of the season. Cerrillo was signed back in 2019, likely to be one of the standard 3 guaranteed + 2 option years contracts, so 2022 will be his first option year. If he continues his strong play into 2022, he’ll be in line for a new contract with a significant raise in 2023 and beyond.
Cerrillo can be the anchor in midfield for this club for many, many years, and FCD should make sure they do what they can to make that happen.
Another prominent decision to make, Servania was one of FCD’s best players in the latter parts of 2021 and looks to be making a real bid to be a regular starter in 2022, especially with Bryan Acosta out of the picture in midfield. Servania was signed prior to the 2018 season, so this should be his final option year on his contract.
Don’t be shocked at all to see a new contract for Servania before the 2022 season starts. Whether it happens at the start, middle, or end of 2022, FCD needs to lock down Servania for the future, either as a piece in MLS or as a potential sale to Europe based on his current trajectory.
Yet another obvious decision for the FCD staff, Ryan Hollingshead, is still a hugely important part of the club, even as he moves into the latter stages of his career. He had a bit of a down year in 2021 but was still one of the best-attacking left-backs in MLS and remains an important figure in the locker room and a fan favorite.
This is the last year on Hollingshead’s current contract. FCD should do what they need to do to keep him at the club beyond 2022, but they do certainly need to look into figuring out Hollingshead’s replacement at left-back down the line.
Munjoma’s option being picked up is interesting for a few reasons. Munjoma is probably the most surprising inclusion on this list of options that were exercised. The 2020 season was basically a non-factor for Munjoma, who only played a handful of games for North Texas SC near the end of the season. He did get a brief run in the first team in 2021 but, again, spent most of the year playing with NTSC instead of the first team.
That said, it is fair and logical to give him another season, considering what the 2020 season ended up being and the fact that he can cover both the left and right-back positions. Interestingly, Munjoma was only signed in 2020 but is already hitting his option years, meaning his contract is likely something like a 2+1 instead of a 3+2 that is typical for homegrowns, which would indicate that this is the final year of Munjoma’s deal. He’ll need to step it up in a big way if he hopes to be with the club beyond 2022.
In hindsight, picking up Tafari’s option is an extremely obvious decision. Tafari is on a very low salary from his rookie contract and was a breakout player for FCD in 2021, starting over 20 games and asserting himself as a potential piece to build the FCD defense around going forward. But after Marco Ferruzzi only played him a handful of times, questions arose from the fanbase about 1) what Tafari’s contract situation was and 2) if FCD would pick up an option if it was there.
Many people were not sure if Tafari even had a contract option for 2022 as many draft picks for FCD sign 1+1 contracts, with one guaranteed year and a single option year. Still, Tafari seems to have a 1+2 or potentially even a 1+3 contract. That being said, if Tafari keeps up his play from 2021, he’ll be due for a substantial raise and a new contract very quickly. Personally, I’d love to see that happen before the season even starts.
Another breakout player in the defense in 2021 and yet another very obvious decision made by the club to exercise Ema Twumasi’s option. This is his final option year on his Generation Adidas, but with Twumasi’s play in 2021, FCD may be looking at their right-back for the next half a decade.
He is another that seems likely to get a new deal sometime before, during, or after the 2022 season.
Options Declined/Out of Contract
Phelipe came to Dallas before the 2020 season on loan from Gremio with a buy option reportedly around $2.5-3 million. It always seemed far-fetched that FCD would spend that kind of money on a young foreign goalkeeper, but there was a plan potentially in place to parley a strong Olympics performance in 2020 to a big sale to Europe down the line.
None of that ended up working for Phelipe, who had some bright moments for FCD but did nowhere near enough to justify FCD spending millions to keep him here. Gremio apparently tried to work out a deal with Dallas that would see the club keep Phelipe in exchange for clearing any owed payments for Thiago Santos, but FCD smartly did not go for that “deal.”
With three center backs among the highest-paid players on the team and only one with a contract to be declined, Bressan was the odd man out, and it made sense to have his option dropped as he was making over $500k annually. Bressan certainly had his moments in Dallas; his efforts in a 2020 game against SKC that saw an imprint of the ball left on his skin because of how he had blocked multiple shots sticks out as a major moment.
For me, Bressan will always be appreciated because he actually seemed to care about the club and the fans, which is not always a given for international players in MLS. Sadly, he simply had too many deficiencies as a defender to justify keeping him around for another season.
Caiser was only ever brought to FCD on loan from North Texas SC during the injury crisis at center back; he did not play in any first-team games for FCD. Interestingly, his contract option with NTSC was also declined, though, with his play for NTSC in 2021, it would be surprising if FCD did not try to bring him back to the club in some form or fashion in 2022.
This is probably the most surprising of all the roster decisions and perhaps feels a little harsh as Nelson’s 2021 season was cut short by an injury that ultimately required back surgery that will keep him out until spring 2022. Nelson was on a Generation Adidas contract, the guaranteed part of which (the first 3 seasons) did not count against the salary cap for FCD.
Once GA contracts move into their option years, they do start counting against the cap, so it is clear that FCD did not feel they could justify that expense based on Nelson’s injury and play. This doesn’t rule out the possibility that Nelson gets another shot with FCD if another team is not interested, but he is undoubtedly at a challenging point in his career.
Things just never worked out for the former DP midfielder in Dallas. Acosta showed flashes of his talent, and why FCD used a DP spot on him, his first goal against the LA Galaxy in 2019 sticks out, along with a few of his performances in the first part of 2021, where he finally looked like he was putting everything together. But a combination of time missed due to national team call-ups and injuries, along with consistent personnel changes in the midfield, meant that Acosta struggled ever to put together consistent performances and justify his price tag and the use of a DP spot.
Speaking of things not working out, Andres Ricaurte was not surprised to see in the list of declined contract options. Ricaurte is unquestionably a highly talented player, his ability on the ball is right there with some of the best players in the league, but FCD could never find his best spot. Ricaurte is a deep-lying playmaker; he wants to pick the ball up in midfield and spray passes and make plays from there. He is not the type of midfielder who wants to attack the box regularly and take a lot of shots on goal.
Unfortunately, Dallas needed him to be more of the latter than the former, and Ricaurte was often miscast in Dallas as an attacking midfielder where he did not thrive. The writing was on the wall with this decision when Ricaurte could barely get off the bench in the last part of the 2021 season.
In a disappointing season, Freddy Vargas was perhaps the biggest disappointment on the roster. Vargas came in with a lot of hype from Venezuelan fans and media and backed that up with strong performances in training camp and in the preseason. But once the season started, that all seemed to disappear, and, before we knew it, he was playing games with North Texas SC and not even making the bench for the first team.
Vargas has talent, but it is clear that Venezuela to MLS was too big of a jump for the young winger.
Zobeck is the lone player to have his contract expire instead of having an option declined. The third-string keeper did not make any first-team appearances this season after making his MLS debut in 2020. It is unlikely that Zobeck is going to attract any attention elsewhere in MLS, but he may get a preseason invite and have a shot to earn another contract as the third-string keeper.
He has been everything you would want out of that role in his second stint in Dallas, and if he beats out someone else in camp, I’d be happy to have him back in 2022.
What is your take on FCD’s initial offseason roster decisions?
Did they make the wrong move by retaining or letting go of any of these players?
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