Who Will Be FC Dallas' Next Breakout Player?

Since Luchi Gonzalez first took over as FC Dallas’ head coach in 2019, the club has seen at least one homegrown player have a breakout season and cement their place in the starting eleven. 2019 saw Paxton Pomykal and Jesus Ferreira becoming key components of Luchi’s squad. Ferreira led the team in goals with eight goals in thirty-three appearances, while Paxton was named to the 2019 MLS AllStar team, alongside veteran teammate Matt Hedges. 2019 also saw Brandon Servania and Edwin Cerrillo earn time with the first team. Although it wasn’t as high-profiled as Paxton and Jesus’ season, Servania and Cerrillo were quickly able to prove that they could be inserted into the lineup whenever the regular first team starters were unavailable due to injury or national team call ups and give little drop off in terms of skill.

2020 saw the rise of Bryan Reynolds and gave fans a glimpse of what Ricardo Pepi and Tanner Tessman could bring to the club. Bryan Reynolds originally signed for Dallas in 2017 but did not make his first team debut until 2019 and made only 10 appearances for that season. He became a key part of the club mid 2020, after starting right back and fellow homegrown player, Reggie Cannon was transferred to Portugese club Boavista. Reynold's play quickly earned him notice from top clubs oversea and he is currently involved in several transfer rumors, specifically with teams in Series A.

This is a short list of the most likely players to experience a breakout year in 2021. It will focus only on players who have been a member of the roster for at least a year.

Ricardo Pepi- Pepi has one of the best chances of getting first team minutes in the new season. Sitting under DP Franco Jara on the depth chart, Luchi already began giving him minutes as a sub in most games last season. During the playoff game against Portland, he was able to score nearly ten minutes after coming onto the field, giving the Dallas the equalizer they needed that eventually led to their win against Portland in penalties. There is some speculation that Dallas could switch to a two striker system, if that ends up being true, Pepi could fill that second striker role. His competition for the second striker position is Jesus Ferreira and possibly newcomers Jader Obrian and Kalil ElMedkhar. Last season, Ferreira spent most of his time in the midfield, despite his team high eight goals in 2019, Luchi seems to prefer Ferreira as a midfielder. Should Pepi continue his form into the new season, he would be the most likely to be Dallas' next big player.

Tanner Tessman- Tessman had a solid rookie season last year. During his first season, he played twenty-one games, including post-season, starting ten of them. His play has earned him a call up to Jason Kreis’ U-23 US National Team, he was also said to be joining Bayern Munich for a training stint but that has not been confirmed by FC Dallas yet, despite a report from ESPN. Unfortunately, the Dallas midfield is already crowded with players veteran players like Andre Ricaurte, Thiago Santos, and Bryan Acosta and fellow homegrowns Paxton Pomykal and Jesus Ferreira. Tessman will have to fight to make the spot his own but he has the skills to do it. His play last year has already led many to believe that he will be the next Dallas homegrown to go to Europe.

Ema Twumasi- Twumasi is a little older on the list at twenty-three years of age. Drafted in the 2018 Superdraft, he has not been a core part of the club, instead spending most of his time on loan, first to the Oklahoma City Energy in 2018 and then to the Austin Bold from 2019 until the end of their 2020 season. Originally an attacking player, he has been named as a possible replacement for Bryan Reynolds should he get transferred to another team as has been rumored for the last month. Twumasi’s main competition for the starting right back spot would be homegrown Eddie Munjoma or Ryan Hollingshead, should Luchi move him to the right back spot in order to give Johnny Nelson a chance to earn the left back spot. Twumasi played for a few minutes for the first team upon his return.

Eddie Munjoma- Like Twumasi, Munjoma has a chance to become the starting right back should Bryan Reynolds leave. Signed last year as a homegrown, Munjoma has yet to make his senior debut. Before joining Dallas, Munjoma played four seasons in college soccer for Southern Methodist University. If and when Reynolds leaves, the starting right-back spot will be free to anyone.

Dante Sealy- Sealy will most likely split his time both FC Dallas and the USL-One team, North Texas Soccer Club, should protocols allow. He made his senior debut in 2020 and got minutes in five games as a sub. During those games he registered two shots but no goals or assists. Right now, the winger pool is thin for Dallas. Fan favorite Michael Barrios was recently traded and Santiago Mosquera's contract was not renewed, leaving Dallas starting anew at both the left and right winger spots. Jader Obrian and Kalil ElMedkhar were recently signed, both have played as wingers in the past. Paxton Pomykal can play as a winger if needed but even then, the pool is rather weak should any of them come down with an injury or just need a rest. Sealy will probably see more minutes as a sub with a start every now and then.

By Melanie G. Isbell

Twitter: M_Isbell95

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