We’re just past the midway point in our season and FC Dallas continues to look like a team that could be a MLS Cup contender once again this season.
After 18 games, we have players that are at or near the top of the league in goals and assists. Which may makes our decision on who is the team’s MVP thus far a good debate.
Nathan Hill - Kellyn Acosta
This is a tricky question to answer. The first half of the season has been a team effort. Matt Hedges, Walker Zimmerman, Maynor Figueroa, Carlos Gruezo, and Michael Barrios have played solid roles alongsise newcomers Roland Lamah and Hernan Grana. I think you can clearly argue that Urruti deserves the love, but Kellyn Acosta, though cooling off a few degrees from his feverous start to the season, gets my nod. Kellyn’s play was the cohesive glue for FC Dallas’ early season exploits while others got up to speed, acquainted themselves with the team, or dealt with injuries. Kellyn is the heart of this team right now and potentially the heart of the USMNT. He deserves the love.
Jeff Loftin - Maxi Urruti
He’s already set a new career high for goals (not goals per 90 though...) and is continuing to heat up. With the various injuries and changes in the lineup, Maxi has been consistent and has picked up the slack when the team has needed him. Kellyn is the engine that drives the team, but without the goals that Maxi has provided the team would be mired around mid-table. The front office brought in Colman to be the number 9 on the team and I think that it inspired Maxi to up his game even more. I think there is a case to be made for Kellyn, Barrios, Gruezo, and Maynor but to me, the guy putting the ball in the net is our most valuable guy at this point. Mark it down - Maxi gets 25 goals this season and is a contender for MVP (would win if it weren’t for that guy up in Chicago).
Etan Cohn - Maxi Urruti
Urruti’s workrate, determination, fitness, and defensive abilities made him a valuable striker last season despite his mediocre scoring stats. This year, he has offered those same abilities, but in addition has gotten himself near the top of the league in goals scored, and has provided plenty of assists and set-ups as well. Much of that happened while the team was still trying to gel, and Diaz wasn’t there to play him perfect through passes until just recently.
Jared Tilley - Michael Barrios
Michael has been the guy driving the bus for the first half of the year. He has changed his game to help the team get the results needed. He leads the league in assists and has been really, really good defensively. When the team was struggling, it was Mikey who was the main threat. Where as players like Maxi need a dance partner, Mikey has been able to make something out of nothing.
When the team needed a result in USOC, it was Mikey who came in and made the difference. When the team breaks on the counter, it’s usually Mikey leading the line and setting up tap-ins for Rolly and Maxi. He has been this teams most underrated player and my midseason MVP.
Scott Hiney - Maxi Urruti
Let’s talk about just how influential (and critical) Maximiliano Urruti has been to FC Dallas’ success this season. The team is 5-0-4 in games he’s scored or assisted in, and the team is outscoring their opponents 25-12 in those games — compared to being outscored 7-5 in the nine games he hasn’t scored or assisted in.
He’s already eclipsed a career-high in goals with 11 in just 16 games, he’s notched three games with at least one goal and one assist AND he’s already equaled his career-high assist total with four. His position has been sublime this year, not only pestering back lines and keepers consistently throughout a match, but by getting wide when needed to keep a spacious attack and rapidly improving his passing ability. He’s this team’s MVP so far and, if not for Chicago’s Nikolic, would find himself right in the middle of the league’s MVP debate.
El Chico Carmona - Maxi Urruti
This was a tough one to decide on, as several players have elevated their games from last season. Maxi Urruti has been the one constant for the team, game in and game out. To think that Maxi has surpassed last season's scoring haul without Diaz being around for the better part of the season, should tell you just how big those goals have been.
With Diaz missing, several players stepped up, but it's Urruti who's stepped up the highest, and with Diaz back, Urruti may not be done raising his game.