The 2017 season is at about its midpoint for FC Dallas. Expectations were high for the team this season, and although a lot has changed from five months ago when the team started playing competitive games this year, FC Dallas is near the top of the standings with half the season left and pieces starting to fit together. It’s time to take a look back across that period and grade the players.
The grades account for expectations (for example, if a rookie were to get an A and a guy like Matt Hedges or Michael Barrios gets a B, it does not mean the rookie is better, it means they exceeded their expectations by a lot). They include the MLS Regular Season, US Open Cup, and CONCACAF Champions League. So every competitive game so far in 2017 for FC Dallas.
Players who have not played or have not gotten many minutes of action were not graded. The list of players on the roster who have gotten playing time but were not graded are: Reggie Cannon, Coy Craft, *Mauro Diaz, Jesus Ferreira, Jacori Hayes, *Ryan Hollingshead, and Paxton Pomykal.
*Diaz and Hollingshead have a few games each, but with their injuries it would be unfair to grade them since neither has really been 100% at any point during the year.
Chris Seitz: C+
Seitz started the year with the keeper job, and now, halfway through the season, he no longer is FCD's #1 in the box. His game away at Pachuca was a turning point, but had Jesse Gonzalez not had a huge game when given the chance (especially in his game against Minnesota), Seitz perhaps would still be FC Dallas' first choice goalkeeper. FC Dallas is lucky to have two MLS starting-quality keepers that can switch like this. FC Dallas will still be in good hands while Jesse Gonzalez is gone with the USMNT.
Jesse Gonzalez: B+
Gonzalez' opportunity came, he took it, and he hasn't looked back since. His shot stopping ability has helped this team out. His distribution is still shaky and he isn't convincing at the back when defending set pieces, but overall Jesse has been great, and looking forward he will probably improve those weaknesses pretty soon. He may have even blossomed himself onto the national stage this year.
Maynor Figueroa: A-
This guy has stayed consistent and been an integral part of the team this year. He is smart in going forward and helps balance out Grana by staying back and covering when Grana attacks up the opposite flank. Figueroa's trademark left-footed switches into the attack have made a reappearance in 2017, and it's probably under-appreciated by many FC Dallas fans.
Hernán Grana: B+
This has been an interesting start to the season for Grana for sure. His attacking style has been an asset to Dallas, and his defending is alright, but not great. He is able to track back, though. His stamina has been impressive, and he is fighting hard for this team. Grana is one to keep an eye out for in the second half of the season. He could be a big contributor.
Atiba Harris: B
As a depth player, Atiba is great. He provides experience and has been surprisingly good at center back when asked to play there. He is also a good threat on set pieces offensively. Atiba is prone to defensive mistakes, and it's hard to blame him. He was playing as a winger just a few years ago.
Aaron Guillen: B
Guillen has also been solid as defensive depth. He has helped the team as a stopgap when there are call-ups and/or injuries as a safety option that can be dependable defensively.
Walker Hume: B
So far, Hume seems like he was a good draft pick by FC Dallas. He really has shown promise. For the time being, he just gets a "B," but he seems to be learning and getting more comfortable, and could get some higher marks if he gets more playing time in the second half of the year.
Walker Zimmerman: A
When the year started, Zimmerman was extremely good, and was a leader at the back with his defensive partner, Matt Hedges. They worked very well together and complimented each other’s abilities. The past two games coming back from his injury, Zimmerman has not looked the same, but he should definitely improve while his injury heals up and he gets used to playing again. The question is, how much of the bad play was the injury, and how much was him not playing next to Hedges?
Matt Hedges: A+
You know it already. Hedges is the best MLS defender in the league, and it really is hard to dispute that. He has continued his tremendous play this year.
Kellyn Acosta: A+
"The Year of Kellyn" has become a thing. Acosta has stepped up this year and delivered for FC Dallas and bombed himself onto the national stage with the USMNT. To start the year, Acosta stepped in to fill some of Diaz' roles. He moved a little higher than usual, even if he wasn't playing Diaz' exact position. Acosta provided many more goals than expected, and also showed some seriously improved set piece abilities. Now Clavijo is convinced the offers from Europe will start arriving soon, and that one of them might be too much not to take.
Carlos Gruezo: A
While Acosta has been getting the glory, his more defensive-minded and deeper central midfield partner has been delivering as well. Gruezo wins the ball back so many times for Dallas, and has been a big distributor of the ball this year, too. An added bonus is that he has cut back on getting yellow cards, which was a problem while he was adjusting to the team and league last year.
Victor Ulloa: A-
Victor Ulloa has excelled this year the same way he did last year. It is true that he could start in pretty much any other MLS team, but it's hard to compete with guys like Gruezo and Acosta. Ulloa seems to have a great attitude about it though, and Ulloa still sees a lot of minutes. Pareja also awarded Ulloa with the captain’s armband once or twice. Acosta will continue to play with the USMNT, and Gruezo may get some Ecuador National Team call-ups, and we don't have to worry much, because Ulloa is also one of the best holding midfielder in the league and can lead the way.
Carlos Cermeño: A-
Expectations were pretty low for Cermeño at first, but in his limited time on the field, he has earned plenty of respect among fans. Cermeño is depth for now, but high-quality depth. Cermeño has been consistently good in his minutes that he has gotten.
Michael Barrios: A
Barrios does a fantastic job as a consistent contributor as a winger. He makes teams scramble and have to defend against him. This year, he has offered even more as a provider. Without Barrios, this team might be in a really sticky situation this year.
Roland Lamah: First quarter of the season: C-; Second quarter of the season: A
Lamah didn't show much at the beginning of the year, but than... boom! He got one goal in Chicago, and the floodgates opened. Although he still sometimes disappears and his crossing could be better, Lamah is seriously putting up the scoring numbers. His experience and ability to get into dangerous positions is helping FCD for sure.
Javier Morales: C-
The signing of Javier Morales has surprisingly been a huge miss for FC Dallas. He doesn't seem to fit in with Dallas' counter-attacking style.
Maxi Urruti: A+
The driving force of this team has come from Urruti. He helps Dallas in many ways, and he has found his goal-scoring touch this year. He was my vote for midseason MVP.
Cristian Colmán: C-
Colmán has not been the guy FCD fans have been hoping for just yet. He has failed to deliver through the first half of the season, but he is a long term project, and hopefully he can score a few goals in the second half and kick start his career in Dallas.
SHORT FILM:— Big D Soccer (@BigDSoccer) July 5, 2017
Lamah playing the role of: Colman’s first MLS goal
Colman playing the role of: Himself pic.twitter.com/obympPais9
Tesho Akindele: C+
Akindele is good during some games, and bad in others. His inconsistency has been a liability to FC Dallas this year. He can still be a super sub that can score a goal when needed, but his case for starting has weakened considerably since the start of the season.
Oscar Pareja: A
Pareja has lead FC Dallas through a tough first half of the season and more than survived it.
Lone Construction Worker: —-
FC Dallas stats at Toyota Stadium in 2017: Wins: 9; Draws: 3; Losses: 1
You decide what the Lone Construction Worker’s grade should be and put it in the comments below.