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2012 Season Evaluations: Matt Hedges

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UNC Center Back Impresses When Thrust Into Action

Jamie Sabau

Previous Evaluations: Fabian Castillo - Julian de Guzman -Andrew Jacobson -Jair Benitez - Ricardo Villar - Bobby Warshaw

Where would FC Dallas have been in 2012 without Matt Hedges?

Schellas Hyndman and FCD likely couldn't believe their luck when Hedges, the top rated senior defender in the draft, fell into their laps with the #11 overall pick. Dallas happily snapped him up, and from day one Hedges showed he could play at this level.

The national championship winner from UNC made his MLS debut just five games into the season, and after breaking into the starting lineup on May 9 against Seattle, Hedges would fail to start just one more game the entire year.

Ridiculously finishing outside the top 5 of MLS Rookie of the Year voting, Hedges heads into 2013 with a point to prove with his center back partner, George John, locked in for the next three years.

Pros

Fantastic Aerial Ability Simply put, the partnership of George John and Matt Hedges doesn't get beat in the air. Ironically, their aerial prowess was shown best in a game where John was not available, the 3-3 draw at San Jose. Had John been in there, as opposed to Hernan Pertuz, FC Dallas surely wouldn't have drawn that game.

Leadership It's not easy for a rookie to take leadership, but anyone who watches FCD can see that Hedges has quickly become one of the future leaders of the team.

Goal-Scoring You never have your center backs because they can score goals, but Hedges three strikes placed him in a tie for fourth on the team in scoring this season. His goals were timely as well, either game-tying or go-ahead goals.

Moment of the Season

Hedges best game of the season came in September's 3-3 draw at San Jose. Hedges had the late goal that should've won the match, but his performance was so much more than that. As I detailed in a STC piece, Hedges was a monster all game with 16 clearances, 10 recoveries, 4 interceptions and 3 blocked shots.


Cons

Isn't Messi Seriously, I got nothin. Maybe he could improve his passing accuracy a bit, but it's tough to fault Hedges for anything this season. He hardly put a foot wrong.

Final Thoughts

Schellas Hyndman's batting average on picking defenders in the first round of the draft is pretty much unblemished and he's found another gem in Hedges. The big defender from Indiana should be parked next to George John for the next three years and the only question is whether he will have a sophomore slump or propel himself into the national team discussion.

2012 Grade

I tend to grade these on a curve, taking everything into evaluation when deciding on a grade. Given Hedges rookie status and output on the field, I have to give him a 9.0 for the year. There was hardly anything more that could be asked of him in 2012.