The summer window in which FC Dallas has in the past signed an Academy player or two to Homegrown contracts is fast approaching. The 2018-19 Developmental Academy season is at an end and the playoffs are around the corner.
Most U19 Academy players will be graduating from the U19s and heading to college programs this fall. The time is ripe for a couple of signings and our sources say FC Dallas is talking to multiple players about taking the pro step.
Obviously, the existence of the North Texas Soccer Club changes things from the past. Now, instead of one or two homegrown deals signed in anticipation of the 2020 MLS season, FC Dallas can sign multiple players to USL contacts and have them join NTXSC right away to keep playing.
The Academy playoffs are in mid to late June. The 18th to the 25th for the U17s and the 17th to the 24th for the U19s. The FCD U19s are the #1 overall seed with a 19-3-1 record (58 points, +63 goal differential) and the U17s are the #3 overall seed with a 19-1-3 record (60 points, +55 goal differential) at the time this goes to press. After those games, the Academy season ends.
Homegrown vs North Texas
Incidentally, from the last time I wrote a list like this, the two players I predicted would sign Homegrown deals, Edwin Cerrillo and Dante Sealy, both did so. One of the North Texas contract suggestions, David Rodriguez, was also signed.
However, this summer I’m predicting no Homegrown signings from the Academy. Zip. Zero. Nada.
FCD will want to sign Academy players to North Texas SC contracts instead and save Homegrown deals for a player who they decide to move up from USL to MLS. Promoting a player from USL to MLS isn’t very likely… right now. That will happen this winter prior to the 2020 MLS season.
Also, my list does not include any potential signings out of the college ranks. Those, if any, will happen over this next winter after the 2019 NCAA season ends.
Three High Priority Signings
Tanner Tessmann – The FC Dallas Academy has a knack from producing spectacular midfielders. Weston McKennie, Paxton Pomykal, Chris Cappis, Brandon Servania, Thomas Roberts, Edwin Cerrillo… Tessmann is the next high-quality mid in the line of high-quality mids.
By nature, he’s a linking mid similar in style to Bryan Acosta but Tessmann is quite versatile and can also play as a 6, 10, wing, or even a 9… Skilled on the ball, particularly for a kid his size (6’2"), and can shoot really well from range.
Tessmann may be a tough contract to get. His dad PJ Tessmann is the director of Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney’s All in Team Foundation. So I would assume there is a heavy lean toward college athletics.
Tessman is already one of the key players for North Texas SC and hopefully, he and his advisors will see the value in a pro deal. I think the FCD goal will be to have him make the MLS roster next season if he signs this summer. If it comes down to it, I think a Homegrown contract now would be ok if it’s needed to get this deal done.
Jonathan Gomez – A natural left back. When FC Dallas traded Marquinhos Pedroso, Gomez was a factor in that decision. That may sound crazy as he’s just 15, but between the emergence of John Nelson with the MLS side and the potential on display with Gomez in the DA and GA Cup, FCD felt really confident about their future at left back.
Gomez could have another season as a U17, but there’s no need for that. He’s ready now to make the jump to North Texas SC and in my book, there’s no one in the Academy between him and Nelson that is USL contract worthy. Current U19 left-back Julian Hinojosa and the multi-positional Imanol Almaguer – who gets used as a left back with NTX – are both heading to college. Rather than continuing to use right back Kevin Bonilla on the left, Gomez should be signed and elevated after the DA season ends.
Kevin Bonilla – A U19 with another year to go at that age bracket, Bonilla has, if I recall correctly, committed to the University of Portland. But I give him a pro-grade as a right back and he’s already a big part of the North Texas team, usually as an opposite side left back due to the presence of Bryan Reynolds on the right.
With Reynolds now starting to make inroads with the MLS side, Bonilla should see more time as a right back with NTX. He’s essentially a full-time NTX player already and college soccer would be a waste of time for him. Sign him up.
Three "Investment" Signings
FC Dallas will be wanting to sign these next guys in the vein of Dante Sealy and Bryan Reynolds, the protection of their investment type move. None of these three are MLS ready right now and maybe not North Texas ready. But they have big-time upside and pro potential. FCD will want them under contract soon’ish.
Nicolas Carrera – If you’re looking for the next Chris Richards, Nico has the potential to be it. At 16 he already has the MLS body (listed at 6’2" 165 lbs). Immense range and a tenacious defender. He’s getting his US Citizenship in June. An ’02, he graduates from the U17s to U19s this summer.
North Texas has some center backs, so I would like to see Carrera signed to a USL contract and start the 2019-2020 season with the U19s. Then in the spring, come into North Texas camp with an eye on potentially moving into the NTXSC lineup.
Carrera turns 17 in a couple of weeks, so if he ends up spending all of the ’19-’20 season with the U19s that’s ok.
Diego Letayf – The U17s super smooth holding mid. He isn’t a destroyer, Letayf plays defense by positioning; intercepting everything through the middle. Graceful and fluid, he completely controls the pace of the game and dominates the middle third of the park.
Letayf is a Monterrey native though and has been getting a lot of caps with Mexico youth international teams of late. I’m sure some Liga MX clubs will be sniffing around, trying to poach him… so this one has a little urgency with it. Also an ’02, so he’s graduating up to the 19s as well. FCD needs to get pen to paper with him quick.
Beni Redzic – Redzic is an ’02 and doesn’t turn 17 until late September, but he’s played up with the 19s as a part-time starter all season rather than with the 17s. Stylistically he plays like Santiago Mosquera, and like Santi, Beni can be a little hot and cold.
There’s a lot of upside here, that’s why he’s up with the 19s and that’s why he should be signed now. Otherwise, some European teams are going to come looking at him.
After he signs, I want Redzic to play the 2019-20 season with the U19s rather than join North Texas. Mature, become The Man, start every game and dominate. Make the 19s his team. Then down the line, when it’s clear he’s progressed, move up to North Texas
Wait and See
That’s the end of my summer signings list, but I have two more guys I want to talk about.
Gibran Rayo – Rayo is a former Mexico U16 call up. A fast, slashing winger or forward. He’s been splitting time this year with the U19s and North Texas. There’s a lot of impressive tools here but he’s never quite put it all together in a dominant way. 22 games and 15 starts for the U19s this year with 7 goals.
He’s got another season with the U19s if the club so chooses. I think he should stay in this alternating mode with the 19s and North Texas SC next year as one of their Academy Call ups this fall.
While I’m not yet 100% convinced, I think long run he’ll be a really good North Texas signing. Too good for college but not MLS ready at 18. He’s just not a signing for this summer I don’t think.
Johan Gomez – The older Gomez is as pure a 9 and as pure a goal poacher as you will find. All he does is score goals.
An undersized striker, listed at 5 feet 9 inches, when you watch him play you won’t be blown away by any individual skill or quality.
Yet the stats are unreal… this season in the DA – 21 games, 23 goals. Last season with the 17s – 21 games, 20 goals. According to the stat sheet, he got 1 call up to the 19s last year… and scored a hat trick. He’s got 3 games with North Texas – mostly while Ricardo Pepi has been gone – and he nabbed a goal.
What are you going to do though, sign him to North Texas and make him watch Pepi play all year? Better to let this Gomez go to college this fall – he signed to play at the University of Portland – and track his progress. He could be snapped up this winter if he so desires – like Brecc Evans last year – if he’s ready and if Pepi perhaps moves up to MLS for 2020.