FRISCO, Tx. — FC Dallas midfielder Carlos Gruezo is making his return to Germany after three-and-a-half seasons in Major League Soccer.
FC Augsburg announced Tuesday Gruezo was joining the Bundesliga side on a five-year deal. MLSSoccer.com reported the fee for Gruezo was $4.5 million, with incentives that could push it to $6.2 million. Dallas will also retain a 20 percent sell-on clause for any future sales.
Gruezo arrived from VfB Stuttgart in 2016 and made 98 appearances for FC Dallas in league play. In his time with Dallas, Gruezo was known as a stable piece of the midfield, a gritty defensive player not being afraid to get stuck into challenges. Under new coach Luchi Gonzalez, the 24-year-old played a bit of an advanced role, helping the attack as more of a No. 8. Gonzalez confirmed the deal had been in the works for six months, with the timing now being ideal for Augsburg, Gruezo, and FC Dallas.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for him,” Gonzalez told Pro Soccer USA. “He’s developed in this club. He’s given everything for this shirt. I have a really good relationship with him. We’ll always have a good relationship with him because he was a good professional. He showed respect on and off the field and that’s how he’ll be remembered at the club. The door I’m sure will always be open for him because he’s still really young. I had a short time to work with him and I enjoyed it.”
The move reinforces the MLS mentality of wanting to be a selling league. It’s the second player Dallas has sold to the Bundesliga, with center back Chris Richards going to Bayern Munich in January.
“For me, it’s a fantastic case,” FC Dallas technical director Andre Zanotta told Pro Soccer USA. “We bring a player from the Bundesliga when he was 20 and after four seasons, in his fourth season here, he’s been transferred back to the Bundesliga. It shows how strong what we’re doing here in FC Dallas and how the league is doing. For him, it’s great to be back in one of the top leagues in the world. It’s something good for everyone involved, for the clubs, for the league, for the player.”
The transfer shows how a side like Dallas can cultivate not just homegrown players, but others looking to take the next step in their careers. Gruezo was brought in after only making two appearances for Stuttgart in the Bundesliga. The Ecuadorian has grown by the consistent playing time in MLS and was able to make that jump back into one of Europe’s top leagues.
“It’s a natural thing,” Zanotta said. “You have Carlos interested and that’s what he told me. He wanted to go back and get this challenge again in his career. He was very young when he first went to the Bundesliga and now he has this opportunity with a different club, a club that believes in him and so I found it as something that happens. We’re really happy with the players that we have in this position here to step up. They’re already doing that. We have [Bryan] Acosta in that position and other players that will have the chance to play so we’re very confident. We’ll miss Carlos, but we’ll have very good players that can step up now with the same way Carlos has been doing the last four seasons.”
Gonzalez options to replace Gruezo are plentiful, including homegrowns Brandon Servania and Edwin Cerrillo. With Gruezo and Acosta being on international duty, both have been getting plenty of playing time and have performed well alongside Paxton Pomykal.
“We have players that are working hard too,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t see a void. No disrespect to Carlos, he is a very important player on any team but, we have a team. We have pieces. We’ve had Servania stepping it up. We have Edwin, who’s still learning. Both of those guys. You got Paxton, who at any moment, can play the No. 8 role. There’s options there. Jacori [Hayes], who had some injury issues a two weeks ago, he’s a player who’s given us a lot to compete. Acosta is there. We got some good cover and those are the guys who are going to do it for the club this season.”