Clavijo freshens up FCD backline without breaking bank
Maybe you should call him Billy Beane in Sambas.
FC Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo engaged in some soccer "Moneyball" on Wednesday with the additions of Homegrown signing London Woodberry and central defender Stephen Keel, who the club selected in the Re-Entry Draft.
The offseason departures of central defender Hernan Pertuz and outside back Carlos Rodriguez left the FCD backline in sore need of depth, but Wednesday’s signings fill those gaps at less than half the cost to the salary cap while freeing up two international slots.
“[Woodberry] is a Homegrown player that is more mature than we’re used to seeing from the kids coming out of our academy right away,” Clavijo told MLSsoccer.com. “He has four years in college and mentally he’s more mature than he was in the past.”
Woodberry joins FC Dallas after a successful career playing for legendary coach Sasho Cirovski at the University of Maryland. The McKinney, Texas, native started 22 of 24 games for the Terrapins during his senior year, leading them to their first College Cup in four years while earning Third Team All-American honors.
While Woodberry slotted in at central defense in his time at Maryland, FC Dallas’ ninth Homegrown signing should immediately contribute at outside back, with a move back to the middle of the field possibly targeted in the future.
“I think that to be a central defender he needs to bulk up a little bit because when you look at our league and look at the strikers, they all play strong and physical,” said Clavijo. “We need to work with him and I think that little by little he may transition into a central defender, but I think right now I can look at him more as a right back.”
To address the need for depth in the center of defense FCD locked up Keel, selected by Clavijo in Stage 2 of December’s Re-Entry draft, to a contract for the 2013 campaign. Keel began his career under Clavijo at Colorado and joins Dallas having played 25 games over the past two years for New York.
Never one to shy from the international market, the two foreign player slots and additional cap space will come in handy for Clavijo as he looks to complete his offseason checklist with rumored additions of another forward and a goalkeeper potentially on the horizon.
“I value the international players and what they bring to the league, but at the same time an international player needs to be better than the American player,” said Clavijo. “Because it makes no sense to go scout outside when we have quality players here in the United States.”