With the MLS offseason in full swing, it is time for FC Dallas to start addressing roster needs ahead of the 2023 season. This week, we’ll look at the three positions of greatest need for FCD.
1) Center back
After declining the contract options for Matt Hedges, Lucas Bartlett and not picking up the buy option in Joshue Quinonez’s loan, FCD, at the time of writing, has two center backs on the roster: Jose Martinez and Nkosi Tafari. Martinez seems set as a starter with Tafari as a depth option, meaning FCD, at the very least, needs to pick up a starting level option along with another depth piece. They have already started to solve this with the signing of veteran MLS center back Sebastien Ibeagha from LAFC, which looks to have the depth piece of the equation solved. The club is still hoping to bring back Matt Hedges, though it seems inevitable that other clubs will be willing to offer more money at this point. If FCD does not bring Hedges back, they’ll need to look for another starting caliber center back and, unless they trade for someone, only Aaron Long and Alex Callens really fit that mold in terms of players available in free agency within MLS. If FCD doesn’t go for, or can’t land, either of those players, they are likely to look in the foreign market for that starting center back. This is probably the number one space to watch as the offseason goes on as there are big question marks here for 2023.
2) Defensive midfielder
It seems a bit strange to focus so heavily on defensive positions after FCD had such a good season statistically at the back, but the needs really do lie there. Defensive midfielder is another spot where FCD is going to look to see how they can improve in 2023. Veteran Facundo Quignon and homegrown Edwin Cerrillo combined throughout 2022 to be solid enough in that spot, but neither player are what anyone would call “MLS Cup caliber” in that position. Year after year, playoff results continue to prove that having an elite level defensive midfielder is crucial to success in MLS. Cerrillo is certainly capable of getting to that level at some point in his career, but his career is still young and he himself is still young and does not have the game reading and savvy that comes with more experience. Facundo Quignon has much more of that side of his game, but lacks the progressive passing and physical attributes that you’d like to see, and typically do see, in an elite MLS defensive midfielder (think of guys like Ozzie Alonso, Diego Chara or even FCD’s own former player Carlos Gruezo).
If FCD does make a move during the offseason (I would not be surprised to see them wait until the summer), it will almost certainly be a foreign signing with South America seeming the most likely destination to find a player considering technical director Andre Zanotta’s connections and experience working in Brazil. This spot may be where FCD splashes a large sum of cash to bring in a truly high level player as opposed to a player they want to develop for the future.
3) Right back
Another defensive spot, the need at right back is very clear after FCD declined the buy option on Nanu’s loan along with declining Eddie Munjoma’s contract option, leaving Ema Twumasi and teenage homegrown Collin Smith, who spent all of 2021 and 2022 with North Texas SC, as the only right backs on the roster. Twumasi had a solid season and improved greatly on the defensive side of his game over the course of the season but there was a lack of offensive production for the converted winger during the season and FCD will certainly want to improve there if they can. Their interest in upgrading the spot is clearly evidenced by their reported interest in signing Canadian international Richie Laryea on loan during the 2022 season. Like defensive midfield, this is another spot where a foreign signing seems most likely as there aren’t a great deal of available quality MLS right backs currently on the market. One way or another, someone is getting signed to play right back and compete with Twumasi for the starting job in 2023.
What do you think FCD’s biggest positions of need are during this offseason? Let me know in the comments below!
Featured Image: Bill Barrett/ISI Photos