One of the players that FC Dallas picked up this past off season with the most intrigue for me was Canadian international Kyle Bekker. In college he was an offensive juggernaut with a dangerous free kick and the eye for the defensive splitting pass in the final third. Somehow all of that kind of disappeared once he was taken by third overall by Toronto in he 2013 MLS SuperDraft and he has struggled during his two year stint with TFC.
The change of scenery and the chance to be coached by Oscar Pareja brought a big sense of optimism for him and for the fans. Two season without a single goal from a player of his technical ability seemed unheard of but perhaps this club would be able to bring out the best of Bekker.
So far Bekker hasn't completely delivered on the high promise from his college days, but as FCD fans have begun to notice, Bekker offers something that could really help this club moving forward, especially on the offensive end. Bekker didn't start his Dallas career on a great note going an atrocious 18/32 (56%) passing back on 4/10 but has since settled in and has delivered a better performance going 64/82 in passing (78%). And with improved performances from him and the decline on the return of investment from Michel (especially in set piece delivery), now would be a good time to inject Bekker into the starting lineup more.
Let me present my case with the following:
Orange = Key passes (passes that lead directly to a shot attempt)
Blue = Assists
It's no surprise to see Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo lead in this category as they are the catalysts for this team's offense. What's surprising to me is that Bekker's chance creation is pretty high given how few minutes he's played in comparison to Castillo and Diaz.
Here's a look at the team's passing usage:
(I only included midfielders, forwards and the fullbacks since they're the ones who are generally the ones most involved in the attack.)
Passing usage is simply measuring the percentage of chances created (key passes + assists) per pass. So Mauro Diaz clocks in at 5.7%, which means 5.7% of his passes lead to a shot or a goal which is a pretty healthy rate of return. Now take a look at Bekker who has a pretty high rate at 10%.
This is of course a very small sample size, so I'm not saying he's twice the offensive power than Diaz or anything of the sort. Part of his high percentage is game state and that he's coming in as an offensive sub, so his percentages will be higher. But when you compare it to Michel, who's sitting a lowly 2.5% and he already doesn't offer much in terms of the run of play, it's time to bench Michel and go with Bekker, at least until Acosta returns.
Bekker offers more mobility, about the same passing range, and because Michel's set pieces are so poor right now (by his standards), Bekker's is about on par delivering in the free kick. I know Michel's history against the Sounders speaks loudly but given the stage of the season we're in, I'd much rather give those minutes to Bekker and let him show us and Pareja that he truly belongs here and is the right partner for Victor Ulloa.