With no action this past week and the next, we have a nice pause in our Workhorse of the Week voting, so that gives us a chance to speculate wildly.
Who will win the Workhorse of the Year this season?
Yes, this award is probably one of the most highly anticipated awards over the course of the season. I have an inside source that suggests most FC Dallas squad members would prefer to win this illustrious award than sign a contract with FC Barcelona or any other large European team. It’s that glorious and respected of an achievement.
The potential winner of the award is the kind of player surely to go down in FC Dallas history. Here’s who I think has an inside track:
Kellyn might end up getting sold this summer for big bucks to a team intent on winning lots of trophies and dominating play. If he sticks around though, he is probably the clear frontrunner with the added edge of a sudden offensive output. Kellyn’s work rate is insane, and he deserves to be the face of the franchise in the future. This is a homegrown player who meets expectations with each move to the next level of demand on his play. We are all curious to see what he could do in the midfield for the USMNT, but do we see him in that role against Panama tonight? Maybe.
Carlos has become one of the best signings in FC Dallas’ recent history. He obviously brought some incredible skill and a steady presence that probably made both Victor Ulloa and Kellyn Acosta better. He is the quieter of our midfield players but maybe that is ultimately a good thing. I imagine at some point he is going to return to Europe if he keeps playing this way or at least demand a better contract in the future. I think he probably wins the award this year, because while he may not get goals and assists, his play will be a key to whether or not FC Dallas in in the hunt for the Supporter’s Shield.
Unfortunately, as beloved as he is, Victor is probably going to get fewer minutes this year even if he continues to serve as a vital piece on this roster. If Ulloa had the experience playing another position, we might see him deployed like Ryan Hollingshead, but Victor is best as another quiet, hard-working midfielder with stunning offensive moments of his own. At one point, there was a smallish debate about whether or not Vic and Kellyn make a better team than Carlos and Kellyn. I’ll let you argue that below. However, because of reduced minutes, I don’t think Victor will be in the running for the Workhorse of the Year nod this time around.
Again, Walker is another guy soon to be headed to Europe, barring a complete step backwards in his level of play. He is still young and needs a tad more seasoning, but with more USMNT calls, that experience is on its way. It’s crazy to think that Walker might eventually overshadow the incredible defensive prowess of one Matt Hedges, but Walker has got a high ceiling. I’d love to see more goals from him this year as an addition to his game. If he can get there and be more of a dominating presence on corners and free kicks, Walker is gone by this summer.
And if he’s not, he might win the Workhorse of the Year.
As Captain, Matt has earned his place as one of the great defensive players for FC Dallas and eventually for MLS. Why isn’t a Premiere League team looking to snag him away? Matt is mature, hard-working, mistake free, and a clear leader. You can build a spine of a team around Matt. Without Matt, I don’t think Walker would have improved as quickly as he did. Do you have a mid-tier squad with some young players that needs guidance and stability? Grab him. Matt will be in the running for Workhorse of the Year though, because European teams don’t know good talent when it hits them in the face. (Brek Shea obviously didn’t count as I think about underrepresented American talent in Europe.)
I love Ryan. He is a solid player for FCD that can slot in all over the place. He will get minutes at RB, RM, maybe even LB, and LM this season. But is he Workhorse of the Year material again? I don’t know. He is going to have work hard to earn minutes on the field and show that he is ready to take the next step. Regardless, could he be a sort of closer for this team, coming on to hustle, harass, and stir up trouble late against tired opponents? I think this season will decide a lot about Ryan’s future and how he is going to carve out his niche.
Let’s give a healthy nod to the man between the sticks, life-saver Christ Seitz. He should be in contention for the Workhorse of the Year, but goalkeepers often get looked over in these tallies. It’s something I’m going to be more intentional about not doing this season, offering more nods to those tough, quiet performances by our veteran GK that keep FC Dallas in some of these hard fought games. He deserves some love and this is a big year for him too.
Maxi is going to have plenty of enough goals this season, so I am not at all worried about him winning the Workhorse of the Year. He may be more in contention for MVP instead. But he will get plenty of votes for those relentless performances that should turn him into the focus of an upcoming Energizer battery ad campaign. Urruti is the pace setter for this team, and it makes sense that European teams may come around to take a gander at what he could bring to their squad.
Who am I missing? Who do you think is going to win this year’s Workhorse of the Week?