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FC Dallas. A team that has seen some success year in and year out in Major League Soccer. But why can they not seem to get over the hump? As one of the MLS originals, formerly known as the Dallas Burn, FC Dallas have made the playoffs 17 times. But with this rich history, they have only won two titles and they were the U.S. Open Cups in 1997 and 2016. So where is the success? Where can they find it? For Dallas, they certainly have faith in their future, and I believe that their homegrown players are the way they need to continue to go.
FC Dallas have had their fair share of stars on their roster in the past. Whether it was the Guatemalan striker, Carlos Ruiz or the Colombian winger, Fabián Castillo. But FC Dallas has found that it is their academy and their homegrown products that will lead them to have their way in the league.
Currently on their roster, FC Dallas has 10 different homegrown players with their standouts being goalkeeper Jesse González, midfielder Paxton Pomykal and fullback Reggie Cannon. These homegrowns are no slouches either. González is only 24 and has made over 100 appearances for FC Dallas since he signed on in 2015 and had a few stints with the Mexico youth national teams. He helped lead his team to the 2016 Supporters’ Shield and the U.S. Open Cup. While he is still young, he offers plenty of leadership to this team and could continue to show he is a force to be dealt with in the league between the posts.
Pomykal is on the other end of the spectrum as he has shown to be a very young and dangerous attacking midfielder. He is calm in possession and is a great outlet pass for a counterattack. He is only 20 and seems to just be getting better. He was made an MLS All-Star last season and made 12 appearances for the US U-20 teams and one appearance for the US men’s senior team. His play has given him notice overseas and could soon be the next American to make another splash in international football.
The final homegrown is Reggie Cannon who, like González, has proven to be a veteran for this Dallas team and is easily one of the top five right backs in Major League Soccer. He provides plenty of pace in the attack and is stiff when he is defending. He allows for strong crosses from the right side of the field and is great in high pressing situations. Cannon is only 21 and like these other top homegrown players will continue to allow Dallas to have success in the league. But with this success in the homegrowns, where is their missing piece? For me, it is a true striker and a sense of identity.
It is hard to look at the numbers when it comes to goal scoring that we have seen with Zlatan, Josef Martinez or Carlos Vela. But Dallas hasn’t had a great front man in a while. In their last five years, their top scorers of the season have only made double digit goals twice. Their best individual scoring season was Jason Kreis in 1998 and Kenny Cooper in 2008, both with 18 goals. But without a true number nine, Dallas lacks a killer instinct. While they can be strong in possession and do not concede many goals, they do not score many either. The first step for FC Dallas is to sign a scary frontman. Their second step is finding their identity.
While there has not been much turnover in coaching, FC Dallas has not been able to keep up with the former champions and the real gunners in this league. FC Dallas seems to be torn on killing you in possession and striking at the right moment or hunker down and counterattack. Luchi Gonzalez, who is their current coach, needs to create an identity with this team because they clearly have the talent to have success. But he needs to get a lockdown on this team before he starts to lose some of these homegrowns.
Dallas will eventually start getting noticed and having their younger players scooped up sooner and the gold in Frisco will soon disappear and Dallas could find themselves at the bottom of the league. But I don’t see that happening for at least another five years. So hang on tight FC Dallas fans and go fill up Toyota Stadium because your time is coming in Frisco, TX.