A number of Dallas academy standouts have had training stints with Bayern, while Bayern II spent time this winter at FCD's Toyota Soccer Center in Frisco, Texas, highlighted by a preseason friendly against the FCD first team.
It extends further than the playing field, though Chris Richards' sale to Bayern Munich has dominated the headlines. The clubs have shared ideas, philosophies and scouting.
“It’s been a fabulous relationship with Bayern Munich, we’ve executed on so many things," FCD president Dan Hunt told MLSsoccer.com in February. "A lot of these partnerships you’ve heard in the past in MLS have really been a handshake, nothing more, no substance to them. This has a ton of substance, including multiple visits — frankly, Bayern Munich is regularly here."
The partnership was billed as a landmark player development deal, one that would create extra pathways between professional soccer in Germany and America.
Richards moved to Bayern on a permanent basis after a successful loan, while Dallas players developed with training stints in Germany. With no players swapping Bavaria for Texas yet — be it first team, second team or youth — Hunt teases FCD fans to expect that to change soon.
“We have an open international slot and salary space to bring a Bayern player on loan if we need one," Hunt said. "It’s always complicated. Your positional needs change almost daily. … As we get closer to the summer, we’ll address. If it’s not for this summer, then it has to be for 2020.”
While Hunt points out that FC Dallas haven't generally pursued aging superstars, he admits that he wouldn't rule out the possibility of Arjen Robben or Frank Ribery one day donning a Dallas kit.
“Those are two global superstars, I’ve admired them over the years," Hunt said. "The success that pair has had is unbelievable. If MLS is something of interest to them, I think both would do very well. … Once they get on the field, they beat people with superior talent and score goals. Who doesn’t want that for FC Dallas?”
Hunt has a point, and with the wingers both set to leave Bayern after their contracts expire this summer, the opportunity just may be there.
It wouldn't be what Dallas is best known for, though, which is producing Homegrown Players through their academy. The partnership is expected to aid in that as well.
“It’s a great relationship," Hunt said. "The idea exchange, they’ve helped us with scouting. Obviously Chris Richards with [his] opportunity, we’ve had other players get to go like Paxton Pomykal, Brandon Servania and Thomas Roberts to have that training opportunity. They’ve had successful stints there.”
With the genesis of the club's USL League One team North Texas SC alongside the partnership with Bayern, that movement isn't about to slow down. In fact, the route from the FCD academy to professional minutes is only getting more accessible.
“We will only get better by getting these players minutes and now we’ll be able to give these players an outlet with North Texas SC," Hunt said. "USL League One is going to be an incredibly difficult environment for young players — they’re going to be playing against men who are professionals. This is going to put our players in difficult situations, and they’ll grow from it."
It's all part of the ethos at FCD, a club that's signed more players to Homegrown contracts than any other MLS team. Over the winter they even promoted their former academy director Luchi Gonzalez to head coach.
“Something philosophically here, we love to grow our own. Homegrown players, homegrown coach," Hunt said proudly. "The fact that [Gonzalez] has had that relationship with those players is a positive.
“Luchi was such a good teacher of the game both on and off the field, I think there’s even more maturity with these players," Hunt added. "I’m excited for this generation of young players coming through FC Dallas.”
Carter Baum contributed to the reporting of this story.