FC Dallas has mulled an entry in the USL for a few years, but the question is how the team could maintain a roster.
When it comes to the sales and departures of players, FC Dallas has had a busy summer. First the team saw Fabian Castillo join Trabzonspor on a loan, only for academy standout Weston McKennie to sign with FC Schalke upon turning 18.
Currently, FC Dallas has an affiliate in the USL–the Oklahoma City Energy FC–but there has been occasional talk that FC Dallas owners Dan and Clark Hunt may set up their own team in the league. As we noted last year, such a team could be based either in the Dallas area or elsewhere in Texas.
By creating roster spots and playing time for players that are not ready for FC Dallas’ MLS roster,the USL would be an interesting fit. The question, however, comes down to how FC Dallas would retain talent. More from SportsDay:
Dan Hunt told 3rdDegree last year he was “shocked” to learn the width and depth of scouting clubs from outside the United States, specifically Mexico, have done on the FCD youth system and other MLS clubs. To hear Hunt describe it, the amount of attention paid to many of his club’s best and brightest academy players plays a part in the decision to hold off on starting a USL-Pro club. At the time he worried many can or will be picked off by larger, more glamorous clubs with better financial offers. This McKennie situation proved Hunt to be correct. He made McKennie an offer but it couldn’t match the power and value of what Schalke waved in the teen’s face.
A USL-Pro team would effectively become the FCD reserve team and play in the USL league also occupied by teams in San Antonio, Oklahoma City but also other MLS teams who have taken the leap like LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers. The idea being those younger players signed to pro deals, but not ready for MLS prime-time, need a place to get regular playing time. For a youth focused club like FCD, it seems to be a no brainer, but Hunt’s claims reveal a concern about being able to field a properly competitive USL roster without having to import and invest (i.e.: buy) whatever remaining number of players to fill out a roster.
Weston had to choose between being a reserve player for FCD or take the bigger offer and be a reserve player for a Bundesliga club. Seems like a no-brainer. If Hunt is unable to sign his best youth players to pro deals, what’s the point of his own USL team?
Recently word popped up FCD was considering a 2018 launch of its own USL team, and it didn’t go unnoticed it would coincide with the 18th birthday of many of the club’s brightest academy players.
Other MLS squads, including Sporting Kansas City, Orlando City FC, and the Philadelphia Union, have taken a similar step to integrate themselves in the USL in recent years, so it would not be an unprecedented move if FC Dallas ultimately makes that decision.
Image of USL action courtesy of OKC Energy FC.