The overpowering thought from Ricardo Villar's 2012 season will be "What could've been."
Villar was fantastic through the early part of the season, filling in for David Ferreira spectacularly, scoring twice in the first five games of the season, all starts for Villar. Unfortunately, in that fifth game against New England, the Brazilian suffered a tackle from behind by Shalrie Joseph that earned Joseph a post-game suspension while keeping Villar out for nearly the rest of the season.
Villar made two starts in the last three games of the season, but both were ineffectual, raising doubts as to whether Ricardo would be back in 2013.
Flashes of Greatness I thought Villar was not good enough in 2011, starting nearly half the games while failing to register a goal, but I was more than happy to eat crow by Villar's early-season 2012 performances. The Brazilian was arguably FCD's best player through those first five games, proving that he can play at a high level in MLS.
Strong Intangibles Villar restructured his contract to just $80k last year and holds a green card, not counting as an international player. When talking about a skilled but affordable backup for David Ferreira, it's tough to argue with Villar.
What an amazing feeling it must have been for Villar to score the game-winner in front of the sold out crowd in Frisco. The goal would be a harbinger of things to come as Villar scored a nifty free kick just two weeks later at Kansas City.
Can he stay healthy? Villar simply has to stay healthy in 2013. FC Dallas cannot cope without an attacking midfielder and Villar's absence was felt through much of the season, especially as FC Dallas went on their long winless streak.
Building for the future FC Dallas needs to start grooming a replacement for David Ferreira and at 33 years old, Ricardo Villar is not the future #10 for FCD. Minutes that Villar gets in place of Ferreira take away from minutes that could be given to someone who has a long-term future in Dallas.
As someone who was critical of Villar in the past, I was extremely happy to see him prove me wrong through the first month of the 2012 season. However, Villar hasn't proven that he can be at all effective playing out on the wings and he takes away minutes from what can be a younger player developing in the reserves. He will be back for 2013, but pre-season is huge for Villar.
2012 Season Grade
This is an extremely tough one to give fairly as Villar was good in the first 5 games but missed basically the rest of the season. I'll go with a 4.5 rating, which may be a bit unfair as the injury wasn't really his fault, but final product is what you have to go by.