The MLS offseason is in full swing and the league has released the lists of players eligible for free agency and the upcoming re-entry drafts. This week, let’s look at five players FC Dallas should look at going after on these lists.
Teenage Hadebe, Center Back – Re-Entry Draft
Yes, a former Houston player. Hadebe was deemed surplus to requirements by Ben Olsen after missing a chunk of 2023 due to injury and losing his starting job in Houston. The negatives: he’s on a high salary, over $1.3 million guaranteed in 2023, so there’s either a DP spot or a significant buy down needed there and he takes an international spot. But beyond that, there are a ton of positives. He’s in his prime at age 28, he’s 6’2″, pacey, left footed and has experience in MLS. Choosing him in the re-entry draft would avoid Dallas having to pay any allocation money to get his rights. In my view, any center back Dallas would find overseas would be just as, if not more, expensive on the balance sheet at the end of the day. They would need to negotiate with him for anything beyond 2024 but, for me, this is as good as it gets for a center back within MLS going into 2024.
Matthew Hoppe, Forward – Re-Entry Draft
To be honest, I’m not totally sure how choosing Hoppe in the re-entry would work with him having been on loan to San Jose from Middlesbrough in 2023. I’m assuming that it would basically give FCD the rights to negotiate with Middlesbrough for a deal or for a new loan. Hoppe’s career has taken a bizarre trajectory after his breakout in Schalke’s disastrous relegation season, taking him to a few spots in Europe where he just hasn’t caught on. Under Nico, he might be able to find some form and offers a profile of forward that Dallas simply doesn’t have. Hoppe is 6’3″, towering above the majority of the team, much less the current forward group. He can play as a 9 or on the wing, so he offers some nice versatility. That said, his contract from 2023 is way too high for the production he provided, so that would be something Dallas might want to work with. Certainly an interesting name in the bucket for FCD.
Kipp Keller, Center Back – Re-Entry Draft
First a Houston center back, now an Austin center back? Keller became a bit of a meme in 2023 for his comically poor back pass to Jared Stroud early in the season against St Louis that gifted the expansion team a goal. But Keller is still very young and was a highly thought of prospect out of the draft. Dallas is in need of center backs in general, they only have two on the roster currently in Nkosi Tafari and Sebastien Ibeagha. Keller, who is on a low salary and doesn’t take an international spot, might be worth taking a flyer on to see if he can restart his career further up I-35.
Kellyn Acosta, Midfielder – Free Agent
This one is a bit of a pipe dream. LAFC has already announced that they are in discussions with Acosta to bring him back but FC Dallas should surely pick up the phone and give Acosta and his agent a call to gauge his interest in a homecoming to where his career got started. Dallas doesn’t necessarily need Acosta but it would be a huge signing for the fanbase and undoubtedly be a big piece in an already pretty strong midfield. The question is really, 1) can Dallas actually afford him and 2) does Acosta actually have any interest in coming back. It seems likely that he’d have to give a bit of a hometown discount for FCD to be able to bring him back to town. Is it likely? No, but I’d love to see Dallas make a run at him.
Kei Kamara, Forward – Free Agent
Kamara has already played for a record 10 different MLS clubs, why not make FCD number 11? Despite the fact that Kamara will turn 40 in 2024, he continues to be a productive player in MLS, having scored 5 goals in 2023 for Chicago and 9 for Montreal in 2022. Dallas certainly wouldn’t want him to be a regular starter but there are few players still going in this league who are more accomplished in MLS. Kamara has been a bit of a locker room issue at other teams in the past but there haven’t been any recent stories of that, so age may have dulled his penchant for stirring up trouble. If Dallas wants someone relatively cheap with a proven goalscoring record, there are few better players around MLS.
A few other interesting names – Dax McCarty, Jonathan Mensah, Julian Gressel, Denil Maldonado, Maxi Urruti, Donovan Pines, Franck Boli
These names all feel far less likely than the other 5 for a variety of reasons but all stick out to me as potentially interesting players. McCarty and Urruti are veterans who could make returns to Dallas and provide some quality. Maldonado and Pines are relatively young center back options who would be a bit cheaper than Teenage Hadebe but may not have the same quality and Jonathan Mensah is a veteran center back option. Julian Gressel has obvious quality, his crossing is practically world class, but he’s probably too expensive and not a great fit for how Dallas plays. Finally, Franck Boli only lasted a season in Portland but showed some sparks that might be interesting as an attacking option for Dallas.
Who do you think FCD should target in free agency and the re-entry draft? Let me know in the comments below!
Featured Image: Sporting News