Image: FC Dallas
The third installment of the "FC Dallas' Roster" series. The previous posts can be found in these links:
"FC Dallas' Roster: Goalkeepers" (https://www.mlsnowpodcast.com/post/fc-dallas-roster-goalkeepers)
"FC Dallas' Roster: Centerbacks" (https://www.mlsnowpodcast.com/post/fc-dallas-roster-centerbacks)
Outside will feature a major change this season. Reggie Cannon and his successor Bryan Reynolds made the jump to Europe, leaving a hole at right-back. There are currently three options for right-back: Ryan Hollingshead, Ema Twumasi, and Eddie Munjoma. Twumasi has some MLS experience but not much, Munjoma has yet to feature for the first team, and Hollingshead, while he has played as right-back in a pinch, is not as strong there as he is on the left side.
Left-back for Dallas is more solid with Hollingshead being the usual starter there, while Johnny Nelson has filled in when needed. The main difference between the two players, aside from experience, is the attacking spark that comes from Hollingshead. Nelson is an MLS ready player but does not provide the same attacking spark that Hollingshead does, however as FC Dallas has began preseason, he is starting to get more attack minded.
Image: USA Today Sports Images
Hollingshead is entering his eighth year as in MLS and with FC Dallas. Since 2019 he has been one of FC Dallas' most consistent players, alongside Matt Hedges. Under Luchi, he was able to cement his spot in the starting eleven as a left-back instead of being used as the swiss-army knife guy that he was used as under Oscar, though he has still stepped and played out of position when needed.
In 2020, Hollingshead played in all but one regular season game. He scored 4 goals and tallied a single assist last year, which is lower than his production in 2019, 6 goals and 3 assists, however with the 2020 season being shorter than 2019, it's not a decline in skills on his part. His play in 2020 earned him a spot on MLS Team of Week twice (week 21 and 23) and made the bench for the MLS Team of the Week for week 15. (https://www.fcdallas.com/players/ryan-hollingshead)
So far in the three friendlies that FC Dallas have played, Hollingshead has been employed as the right-back, giving Johnny Nelson a chance to claim the left-back spot. Ema Twumasi, who was supposedly the first up as Reynold's replacement is currently injured and Eddie Munjoma, the other possible replacement for Reynolds, is still inexperienced. Hollingshead has played on the right before when needed but has admitted that he is uncomfortable on the right. A full preseason playing on the right may help covert Hollingshead into the next right-back for the team. (news on Twumasi's injury and Ryan's performance on the right can be found in the 103rd episode of 3rdDegree the podcast, link below)
Right now, Hollingshead will more than likely be the starting right-back on opening day for Luchi and the club.
Image: FC Dallas
Johnny Nelson, Dallas' 10th pick in the 2019 MLS Superdraft, has been a solid back-up on the left side of defense for FC Dallas so far. In his two years in MLS, he has played in 20 regular season games, starting in 12 of them. He has a single assist to his name so far. (https://www.fcdallas.com/players/john-nelson)
The departure of Cannon and Reynolds has left a hole at right-back that at the moment, looks to be filled by Hollingshead, which gives Nelson a chance to stake his claim as Dallas' starting left-back. He does not provide the same attacking spark that Hollingshead and the other Dallas outside backs have been known for in recent years but it looks as though this preseason is making strides as an attacking outside back.
Nelson will most likely be starting on opening day on the left.
Image: FC Dallas
Twumasi was originally drafted by Luchi and the club in 2018 as a winger. He played for Wake Forest College and during his time there scored 16 goals and recorded 11 assists. So far, he's made only 7 appearances for FC Dallas in his 3 years, spending most of his time on loan at Oklahoma City Energy and the Austin Bold. (https://www.fcdallas.com/players/ema-twumasi)
Despite primarily playing as a winger in his youth, Luchi looks to convert Twumasi into the next right-back for Dallas, following in the footsteps of Bryan Reynolds who made the switch as well. Unfortunately for Twumasi, it's been reported by Buzz Carrick at 3rd Degree that he is currently injured. (https://3rddegree.net/fc-dallas-wins-first-preseason-scrimmage-of-2021)
Twumasi has yet to play in a preseason game for Dallas and the club hasn't made an official announcement. When he returns to the club, he will have to beat out Hollingshead and Munjoma for the right-back spot.
Image: FC Dallas
Munjoma, signed in 2020 as the club's 27th homegrown player, has yet to debut for the senior team. Last season he played for North Texas Soccer Club, where he played in 5 games and scored 2 goals. Munjoma is still inexperienced, he will have a learning curve this season should he get minutes. Cannon had his shaky moments in his first few games as a starter, so mistakes should be expected.
Prior to the 2021 preseason, Munjoma switched to the number 2 jersey, which was vacant after Cannon's departure last summer. Given that the 2 is usually reserved for starters, it could mean that the coaching staff rank Munjoma very highly.
Munjoma, while he is believed to be competing with Twumasi for the right-back spot, has also played on the left for Dallas during preseason. Buzz Carrick on the 3rd Degree revealed in his podcast that Munjoma played on the left in his academy days due to Cannon being on the right, his switch to the right came in college. The link for that episode can be found above.
Munjoma will more than likely not start on opening day but will probably be in the 18 and could come off the bench to replace either Hollingshead or Nelson due to his flexibility.
By Melanie G. Isbell