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Mauro Diaz Transfer: What does it mean for FC Dallas?

Jun 2, 2018; Frisco, TX, USA; FC Dallas midfielder Mauro Diaz (10) in action during the match against the Los Angeles FC at Toyota Park. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
  1. FC Dallas announced today that Mauro Diaz will be transferring to Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai FC. After six seasons, Dallas and Diaz decided that now would be the best time to move. 

The team has some options to fill the hole Diaz leaves. In 109 games (84 starts), Diaz had 23 goals and 44 assists. At times, FCD has looked a bit lost without him offensively. His creativity on the ball produced moments of magic, when he was on the field. 

Where does the team go from here?

Within the team

Within the side, Dallas can do multiple things to replace Diaz. For one, the team can run the 4-4-2 formation that worked well for them in the past. The mentality will change with the look, as Dallas would surrender more possession than usual, but it has produced results. Much of the team’s success last season came from the 4-4-2. It produced counterattacks, which can give speedsters Michael Barrios and Santiago Mosquera chances to exploit that pace in space. 

Óscar Pareja can also run the 4-3-3 that the team usually plays with Diaz on the field. Dallas has run the 4-3-3 with some variation of Jacori Hayes, Kellyn Acosta, Victor Ulloa or Carlos Gruezo. It’s worked at certain times, too, but it puts a bit more pressure on Acosta to be more creative in the attack. Don’t expect much possession in this look either. It gives the team the familiarity of the formation, but it would miss some of its kick with Diaz gone.

Paxton Pomykal has been noted as the backup for Diaz. However, he has yet to play a single game at the attacking midfielder role, a position he feels very comfortable with. Minutes are going to open up for Pomykal, and there may be chances to see him play that role more often — but he has only played four MLS games in his career. If Dallas wants to throw him into the lineup, it can, but that’s doubtful. Pareja will not want to rely on a player with so little experience and give him more pressure. The ideal situation is to see Pomykal get more minutes and be ready for that kind of role next season. 

Finally, Santiago Mosquera at the attacking midfielder spot seems intriguing. He has the technical ability to play that role, with his passing and dribbling. Mosquera shifted into the middle for certain games this season and performed well, stringing passes together. If Dallas really wanted to, it could put out a lineup of Roland Lamah, Mosquera and one of its draft picks, which would most likely be Ema Twumasi.

Outside of the team

Dallas will likely have to dip into the transfer market this summer. With the additional funds from the Nedyalkov and Diaz transfers and the July 10 window coming shortly, the team has needs to fill. 

It has a very big problem at leftback. Nedyalkov’s departure means there’s only two of them on the roster: Ryan Hollingshead, who is more of a wingback than a fullback, and Maynor Figueroa, who has been very bad in the role and at this point in his career is more of a centerback. 

At the minimum, the team needs to find a backup leftback. Former homegrown player Moises Hernandez has been training with the squad and could be a temporary solution for the rest of the season. 

The team also needs a second striker, a target man. Cristian Colman has shown the importance of needing a target man with his hold-up play and his tendency to stray higher up the pitch. In a two-striker set with Maxi Urruti, this allows Urruti to drop deeper and press, while still having Colman up top to provide an attacking presence. Many times, Urruti is seen making deep runs from the midfield because of his tendency to press into the midfield. He seems tired and out of breath, forcing him to take long shots that are poor decisions. 

Colman has shown the need for a forward, even if it won’t be him. Pareja can deploy his 4-4-2 if the team adds another forward. Diaz’s departure also allows the team to be a bit more flexible formation wise. Dallas may not need a direct replacement for Diaz and can instead bring in the striker the team has needed for the past few seasons.

The issue with relying on the transfer market is FC Dallas’ summer transfer history. To be blunt, it has been terrible. Here are the notable players Dallas has brought in during the summer.

Luis Gonzalez Monagas SC
Getterson J Malucelli
Aubrey David Saprissa
Carlos Ruiz N/A
Norberto Paparatto N/A
Ezequiel Cirigliano River Plate
Rolando Escobar Deportivo Anzoátegui
Walter Cabrera General Diaz
Erick Portimonense
Mauro Diaz River Plate

The only great signing out of that group was Diaz. Seattle signed Raul Ruidiaz, D.C. signed Wayne Rooney — so if Dallas is going to transfer its best playmaker, the replacement needs to be as skilled. If not, there’s likely going to be a lot of upset fans and Dallas could face a tall task competing for the MLS Cup this year, which is the team’s ultimate goal.

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