They made the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, something those around the club considered a success in what was a transition year for a young team and young coaching staff. It was a promising year. Dallas held 54% possession, up from 49% in 2018. They completed nearly 2,500 more passes with a passing accuracy of 84%, up from 81% last season. They gained nine fewer points than last season, but most importantly, they made the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six years despite all the turnover and an even younger squad.
Now they want more. It's a big offseason for FCD and they're looking for quality, not quantity.
"We need two or three players to push us over the top and be a championship team," club president Dan Hunt recently told MLSsoccer.com. "The challenge from Luchi to Andre [Zanotta] and myself is that ‘Hey, I need two players I can count on in every position, but I need a couple of players that can put us over the top.’ We have all these great young pieces, but we need a little bit more veteran help to help them develop.”
The front office, led by Hunt and technical director Andre Zanotta, who joined the club last winter, hopes to increase the overall quality of the squad.
“You can always add a defender or two," Hunt said. "In the midfield, depending on what we want to do, is there a piece that’s a No. 10 that can help in attacking situations? Jesus Ferreira is a unique No. 10, a non-typical No. 10. Then you ask yourself is Paxton Pomykal’s best position a No. 10 or out on the wing? We go back and forth. I think you’ll see us add in the midfield."
Hunt continued to explain that the club planned on adding a center forward in the summer, as winter signing Zdenek Ondrasek had made just one start in the club's first 27 matches. But in July, a month before Ondrasek would fully break into the team, Hunt got a call from Gonzalez. The head coach explained the man nicknamed Cobra was really turning it around in training and he believed there was more to come over the rest of the season. Hunt and the front office obliged, pulling out of their plans to sign a striker.
Ondrasek would score seven goals and add two assists in his final seven appearances of the regular season.
“Cobra did a great job," Hunt said. "And [16-year-old Ricardo] Pepi right now is an exciting young project, but having another forward to help out would be a good thing for FC Dallas.”
Plan for USMNT players
It's not just incoming players that Dallas will be concerned with, however. As their Homegrown talent impresses and matures, overtures from clubs abroad will soon follow.
Pomykal, after signing a contract extension towards the end of the season, has his immediate future secured. But that won't stop interest overseas.
“I say this to every player that comes through: I would love for you to play your entire career here. But I’m a realist, and the game is not like that," Hunt said. "We want Paxton to stay as long as Paxton wants to stay, but we’ll be open-minded about a player’s growth and development, too. We also have a responsibility to the national team programs to continue to grow players. If a player is bumping up against a ceiling and has the opportunity to grow and get better, we’ll be supportive of that as long as it benefits FC Dallas and the player.”
While Pomykal got his new deal, fellow Homegrown star Reggie Cannon may be due for one himself. Hunt confirmed that the club is in discussions with Cannon's camp over a new contract.
“We are working on the possibility of re-signing Reggie at FC Dallas. We’re having thoughtful conversations with his agent," Hunt said. "We’re having a lot of conversations with players because we have a great core. We’re talking about what Reggie’s future looks like, we obviously would like to have Reggie, as long as he wants to stay.”
There is a lot to be decided in north Texas this winter.
“Andre Zanotta will be judged in this window," Hunt said. "When he joined us, he joined late in the process for 2019. He’s a very active person, very smart, we’re thrilled to have him. This is going to be Andre’s big moment.”