We're continuing with our 2015 Position Battles series, with Part 5: Holding Midfielder. In the absence of a true destroyer type defensive midfielder, it looks like FC Dallas will line up with two holding midfielders to shore up the middle of the pitch and make sure they don't get overrun by opposing teams.
At this stage of their careers, I just cannot see any of the contenders able to play the position by themselves yet. Last year was Victor Ulloa's break out year, getting a surprise start against Portland back in March 29th and never relinquished the starting position since May 4th. Despite the mass exodus of veterans (Andrew Jacobson, Adam Moffat and Hendry Thomas), Ulloa will now be challenged a younger crop of players each with their own set of unique skills. Regardless of who wins the two spots, one will feature a young player which is exactly what Pareja hopes to see.
So let's break it down and don't forget to cast your vote down below!
Obviously out of this group, Michel is the only one logging any stats in terms of goals and assists. He is of course the set piece taker of choice, so the goal numbers are skewed more in his favor due to the penalties he takes. I did intentionally leave it out as everyone else had 0s, but it is worth noting that Michel does score and create goals. Probably the most surprising stat are how many tackles Michel actually is able to log per 90. Michel does have a lot of deficiencies in his game, but he is pretty decent at open field tackles which does help Dallas win the ball back.
Case for Ulloa
He is familiar with Pareja and whatever system he chooses. He's also seemed to have earned the trust of Oscar, which can be a huge boost in confidence with the way you play. Ulloa is very composed and tidy on the ball. He won't serve up that magical through ball to stretch the defense, but he won't give the ball away easily either with a misplaced pass or being caught in possession. Ulloa led the team in passes per 90 last season, and he should be very much up the task for 2015.
Case for Bekker
I have not seen too much of Bekker, but what I did see was a player very similar to Ulloa. Very neat and tidy on the ball and liked to combine with short quick passes with his teammates which would be incredible to watch the exchange between Ulloa-Bekker-Diaz if that ever happens. He also looks to have a bit more energy in terms of closing down passing lanes with urgency, which is something Dallas needs if Ulloa does end up being the starter.
Case for Michel
His left foot. From the run of play, Bekker and Ulloa (and even Acosta) are better than Michel. But no one on the team, or even possibly in the league serves up a dead ball as dangerous as Michel. He may be a one trick pony, but he is very, very good with that one trick.
Case for Acosta
Some argue that this is his true position and that his ceiling here is the highest. I don't agree, but I recognize he validity to those arguments. Acosta can play here easily and does have the defensive instincts to flourish and protect the back four. Pareja does like playing youth, so I won't be surprised if Acosta gets a few starts in the midfield this year.
So what do you guys think? Vote below in the polls, sound off in the comment section. When we've covered all positions on the field, I'll tally the votes up and put together the Fan's Choice Starting XI.