Ande Zanotta looks on - FC Dallas
Courtesy FC Dallas

Breaking down FC Dallas' busy offseason as Obrian, Martinez and Vargas headline additions

In a winter of uncertainty, FC Dallas have checked off the bulk of their offseason tasks. 

The club added wingers Jader Obrian, Freddy Vargas and Kalil ElMedkhar as well as defender Jose Antonio Martinez, while finding new deals to keep goalkeeper Phelipe and center back Bressan in Texas.

It's been a busy few months. 

“Overall, we achieved the goals we had," technical director Andre Zanotta told reporters on a virtual press conference. "I can never say we’re done, because we always need to be open for opportunities, but we have limitations in roster and international spots. I wouldn’t say many more (additions).”

Here's what they've done so far. 

Swapping at the wings

The options for head coach Luchi Gonzalez will have to choose from on the wings are going to be vastly different in 2021 than 2020. Obrian and Vargas headline the additions, while Fafa Picault and long-time FCD attacker Michael Barrios have been traded away. 

“There are sacrifices you have to make and risks you have to take to get better," Gonzalez said. "We felt the wing position is that. We felt it was a bigger risk if we didn’t try to make these types of moves.”

Gonzalez is also banking on a much bigger contribution from Paxton Pomykal, who was limited to just 150 minutes in 2020 due to injury. A natural central midfielder, he can adeptly play out wide as well. It's a position Gonzalez expects to utilize him at times this year. 

As for the external additions, Dallas are high on Obrian. The 25-year-old comes to MLS being second in the Colombian league in goals despite playing out wide, with 13 goals in 22 appearances. He's expected to make a big impact.

Vargas joins from the Venezuelan top flight, where the 21-year-old has already amassed 113 career professional appearances. 

“Freddy is another player with verticality, can play inside channels, run at players, get in the box, create shots and crosses," Gonzalez said. "We felt like he had those tools not just today but for the future.”

Dallas embrace the fact that neither player are big names yet.

“Don’t forget Michael Barrios came to FC Dallas as an unknown player at an age where there were a lot of questions about his potential because no one knew who he was," Gonzalez said. "That’s a process we’re not afraid to explore and do it again and again.”

"No. 1 center back choice"

With club captain Reto Ziegler departing, Dallas had a clear need in central defense. 

Before long, they signed their top target in Martinez from Spanish side SD Eibar. He made 20 La Liga appearances on loan at Granada in 2019-20, while he spent 2016-18 with Barcelona B. 

“When we started discussing through when we made the decision, Jose Antonio was our No. 1 choice at center back," Zanotta said. "I feel very pleased that we could make it happen. He’s 27-years-old and could have stayed in Europe but chose to come to MLS after playing regularly in La Liga.”

Martinez, Matt Hedges and Bressan are the club's top options in central defense, while 2020 first round SuperDraft selection Nkosi Burgess and homegrown teenager Justin Che also feature into the depth chart.  

"Still an FC Dallas player": Latest on Reynolds

There is one big storyline still trailing FC Dallas. 

Teenage fullback Bryan Reynolds has been linked all winter with a move to Europe, reported to be a target for a handful of huge clubs, namely Juventus, AS Roma, Club Brugge and many others. 

For now, though, he's still technically a member of FC Dallas. 

"Bryan is still an FC Dallas player," Zanotta said. "Obviously there's a lot of rumors and speculation, there's concrete interest from clubs in Europe, but there's not much more I can say. We never know what's going to happen."