The year 2013 will be remembered as the year in which FC Dallas took a league leading position and torpedoed it beyond help. However, a few valiant souls fought tooth and nail against this outcome. They deserve to be recognized for their contributions.
Blas is an easy choice in this scenario. He has been nothing short of excellent for most of the season, and he has 11 goals so far this season. That's more than twice as much as Kenny Cooper, and more than Cooper, Jackson and David Ferreira combined.
When he isn't banging in goals, he's out there assisting in small ways in the attack, or verbally leading the team's front line. He takes far too easy a tumble every now and then, but his guile and willingness to skirt the line of fairness has, at times, earned Dallas points that the team has absolutely not deserved. If he has a problem being the heel for opposing fans and for referees, he shows no signs of it. He does whatever he can get away with to get a foul called in his favor.
Some might call that cheating. FCD fans would probably hate seeing him on the other side and being subjected to his antics. Luckily for the Toros, he's wearing red and white stripes and using his wily ways to infuriate everyone in the league, while gaining as much of an advantage for his team as possible.
But if you look past that, he is eminently likable. His pride at representing Panama is infectious, his visible frustration when things go wrong shows he cares, and he takes responsibility for his actions. He's also the best goal-scorer that FCD has had since Old Kenny Cooper.
Raul Fernandez AKA "Superman".
Boy, was I upset at Kevin Hartman being let go. At a time when FCD needed leadership and stability, the team cut a man's whose skills were sorely in need in exchange for a second string keeper from a relegated team in France.
That's how some people viewed it. Some rightfully pointed out that being a keeper for Peru's national team meant that Raul saw quality that you could never expect to regularly see in MLS. Yet all were rightly anxious about the appointment. His salary was sizable, his mettle in regular league starts was untested, and he was coming in to fill some big shoes.
It's worked out wonderfully. Raul might cost a lot, but he has more than earned his spot on the roster for the foreseeable future. His feline-esque reaction saves are the only thing that has separated the Hoops from certain doom on numerous occasions, and his frequent highlight reel saves gives fans something to brag about to other teams.
Oh sure, he might have the odd, terrifying spill in which he doesn't properly grasp the ball. But those issues have lessened as time has passed. His communication is leagues better than it used to be, and his positioning has also improved. Raul is a better keeper now than in his first four matches, and he can only improve next season.
If the centerback arrangement stays similar next year, you can (hopefully) expect a much more cohesive back line next season.
Take the armband off Ferreira, and give it to the towering Greek titan. We have waxed poetic enough about his value to the team, enough that it doesn't bear repeating save for this one bit:
When John isn't on the field, things are a damned mess. When he's on the field, the whole back line visibly improves.
He has also started scoring set piece goals (back when Michel was still worth having on the field), a shiny weapon to wave in the face of those who would foul Diaz, Jackson or Blas.
Giving Michel a "mention" of any sort is tricky. He has been abysmal for the past three months, but without him FCD could be looking at Chivas USA levels of futility. He is being ignored now, but his early season deadball skills proved absolutely invaluable in helping Dallas torment the entire league. Since then, he has been terrible in possession and has been relegated to the bench.
So where do you rank Michel in terms of positive impact for FCD? It is hard to come by a more oddly shaped, soccer-playing duck than Michel Garbini Pereira. Mostly he is poor to mediocre, but sometimes he's great, in very specific and useful situations.
So who of the aforementioned has your vote for team MVP? Does someone not on the list merit consideration? If so, who would get your vote for MVP and why?