Wise words from the Prophet Muhammad that’s often lost in the “win now” world of sports. FC Dallas has historically done this well when it’s come to their players and their development, but at some point in the reality of professional sports, players have to deliver something of value to the team or risk being cut.
What that value is entirely subjective, but there are markers that can be used to determine what that is. For example, defenders should defend... scoring goals is bonus, but their primary value is helping the team earn clean sheets. Defensive midfielders should shield the back line. Wingers should be able to create width and space for goal scoring opportunities. Designated Players players should be key pieces to your team, especially based on how much they eat up in the salary cap structure of MLS. Which brings me to a DP that needs to step it up now:
El Principito aka, Pablo Aranguiz.
Last year, there was excitement and also caution applied to Aranguiz as he was picked up as a like for like replacement for one of the best players to ever play for FC Dallas (Don’t @ me), Mauro Diaz. Aranguiz inherited the #10, moves like Diaz and has a similar vision and passing skill set as the Magical Unicorn.
What hasn’t happened, despite all the similarities, are any kind of significant game changing contributions.
Aranguiz has now started 8 games, featured in 17 and has logged 687 minutes in league play. He has amassed a total of 0 goals and 0 assists so far. Not great production from a #10 and especially not for a Designated Player.
To be fair, Aranguiz has been asked to do a lot more than just facilitate the offense this year as Luchi Gonzalez’ system has demanded midfielders play a more two-way style. So there’s some leeway for Aranguiz’ production, but this is the stretch for Aranguiz to solidify himself as an FC Dallas player or someone who made a brief stop in Frisco.
You may not have noticed, but the last two games that Dallas were without their primary playmaker Paxton Pomykal, Aranguiz went the full 90 for the first two times in his FCD career. Both have resulted in losses, and not a whole lot offense being generated by him.
Again, Aranguiz has to play both sides of the ball, which he has done admirably as a traditional attacking midfielder. He has committed himself well to what Luchi has asked of him to get out there, but still the offense isn’t flowing through him as it should. Aranguiz is currently only averaging 1.6 key passes per 90. For context, whether fair comparison or not, Diego Valeri averages 4.4 key passes per 90.
With Pomykal expected to miss a long stretch of games due to injury and the U20 World Cup in Poland this summer, the time is now for Aranguiz. He will be afforded every opportunity to showcase his talents and prove he belongs and deserves the DP tag. This is the ride or die time for El Principito.