FC Dallas: Lamar Batista another example of mastering youth development

FC Dallas signed Lamar Batista for USL affiliate North Texas SC. Whether Batista makes it or not, it shows their mastery of youth development.

Lamar Batista is ready to surge into MLS for FC Dallas. However, while FC Dallas hope the young defender can one day compete in America’s top-flight, first he has to prove himself in the team’s USL League One squad, North Texas SC.

The team picked up the defender after his 2019 option at Los Angeles FC was declined. He has experience at full-back and centre-back, though the latter is where he will likely settle. Batista, though, actually came into the professional game as a defensive midfielder. The Portland Timbers gave him a look with the first team in preseason but he moved to LAFC before dropping out of the MLS circle entirely.

While Batista’s sites are in getting his shot in MLS, staff will get him to understand he has to show he can help North Texas SC win first. That, though, should be easy to do. In 2019, North Texas was the best in USL League One with a record of 17-6-5. They won the league’s inaugural title. Besides winning the USL League One regular-season title in 2019, they also won the league championship.

Standing at six-foot-six, Batista is a raw and untamed prospect. The majority of his experience has come in the USL League One or USL Championship, where he played for Timbers 2 and more recently with the Pheonix Rising.

In reality, had he been capable of playing in MLS, LAFC or the Timbers would have noticed. They are smart organisations, and smart organisations rarely let excellent players leave the door having declined a contract extension.

Batista, too, has arrived on just a one-year deal. This is a low-risk punt from FC Dallas and North Texas SC. They sign an athletic talent on a cheap deal with the hope that he might one day develop into something useful. There is nothing wrong with that.

And Batista arrives with expectations of success, too, which is a positive sign of his worth ethic and highly competitive attitude. “When the season does start, North Texas will be ready, and I want to be sure that we can secure another [title],” he told FCDallas.com.

He also has been on the FC Dallas radar for some time, too. “I went to visit FC Dallas when I was 15,” Batista said. “[Luchi Gonzalez] invited me out, so I’ve actually known him for quite a few years. A lot of people don’t know that, but we go way back.

“We were working on a potential move for me to join the Academy and go to school here for two years, but I had some family issues going on at the time and we decided it was best I stay in Oklahoma, but we were to stay in touch. It all works out that we’re reunited. It feels right.”

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Whether Batista can earn a return to MLS or not remains to be seen. He has a lot of impressing to do. But FC Dallas continue to show that they understand the frailties of youth development and know how to spread their risk. They are the best in MLS at this, and Batista is just another example.