FC Dallas roster looks strong going into 2017

If you’ve been distracted from FC Dallas’ offseason like the rest of the Metroplex, here’s a quick rehash of everything that’s happened since the team left the field after the playoff defeat to Seattle in November.

First the departures. Forward Carlos Ruiz moved on after a late stint last year. Mauro Rosales was let go by the team, as well as Getterson who turned out to be a rare flop. Meanwhile, Fabian Castillo’s move to Turkey became official and defender Zach Loyd was taken by Atlanta United in the expansion draft.

But the front office has been busy to make up for those losses. The team signed three homegrown players to the senior team — Jesus Ferreira, Reggie Cannon and Bryan Reynolds — to boost the squad’s depth if need be. They picked up Javier Morales from Real Salt Lake as a temporary replacement for injured playmaker Mauro Diaz. They signed speedy winger Roland Lamah to replace Castillo. And they added more depth to key spots in Friday’s SuperDraft.

And most importantly, FC Dallas appeared to have signed attacking forward Cristian Coleman out of Paraguay as a much needed No. 9 in the lineup, though the team has not confirmed the acquisition yet.

While the loss of Diaz still looms as a big concern, the feeling is that this team, at least on paper, looks to be one of the strongest for FC Dallas as the team aims for more trophies in 2017.

FC Dallas’ best moves this offseason came with filling in holes in spots that are vital to Oscar Pareja’s favored 4-2-3-1 formation. The Hoops started the offseason by bringing in Lamah as a winger in Castillo’s old spot. Lamah, a Belgian international, has spent time playing in Ligue 1, La Liga and the Premier League during his 13-year career, scoring 39 goals. But more importantly, this move opens up options on both sides of the pitch. Michael Barrios had a great start to 2016 thanks to teams focusing on stopping Castillo; however, once Castillo left, Barrios found it much tougher to get up the pitch. Now with two speedy wingers on both sides, opponents will have to pick their poison on which side to stop.

The team also found a much-needed replacement for Diaz with Morales. The 10-year veteran of MLS found himself a free agent after being let go from Real Salt Lake. During his time at RSL, Morales appeared in 240 matches and scored 49 goals. But more importantly, he’s tallied 81 assists in that time frame. That’s crucial because that’s exactly what FC Dallas needs. They need him to come in and distribute the ball around for at least half the season. He may not be exactly what Diaz is, but the Hoops don’t need him to be a copy of Diaz; they just need him to be good at the position. And his familiarity of the league and CONCACAF action is a big plus to avoid any learning curve to the league.

But the biggest move hasn’t quite been announced yet, although signs point towards it being made official soon. There’s a report that FC Dallas has signed Coleman for $2 million (link is in Spanish), and late Friday FC Dallas president Dan Hunt tweeted that the “got their forward.” So the expectation that some sort of announcement will be made soon.

Coleman might finally be the No. 9, or striker, FC Dallas needs to push the team over the MLS Cup hump. All we really have to go off of is his highlight video on YouTube, but it looks good. He seems to be fast, which is a plus, and his finishing looks solid. As for stats, he’s scored 31 goals in 103 matches in the top Paraguay league, according to Flashscore.com. Those skills, plus Maxi Urruti’s work rate and skill could be tough for opponents to deal with if the two tag team at the striker spot at the top of Pareja’s formation. But again, we’re still waiting for confirmation of that.

FC Dallas also added three homegrown players since the end of the season, as well as drafted Jacori Hayes, a defensive midfielder out of Wake Forest, Walker Hume, a defender out of North Carolina who looks similar in build to Matt Hedges, and Adonijah Reid, a winger out of Canada. None of these players will likely see (or at least hopefully they don’t), but they add depth and are part of a bright future for the club.

Of course, all of this is still on paper, and even the best looking rosters on paper can fall apart once they get onto the pitch. There’s also the usual chemistry issue with the players, although the culture Pareja has created at the club will likely minimize those issues. The biggest worry is getting the players to gel before the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals against Árabe Unido (Panama) on Feb. 23.

But this lineup (if the Coleman acquisition is confirmed) is the best roster FC Dallas could do given the situation. All areas of concern have been shored up and in some cases, the new players are better than the ones that were replaced. If the players can gel quickly, this roster might be the strongest the team has fielded in years, if not the club’s history.

Is it Feb. 23 yet?