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Why FC Dallas is gambling on Maarten Paes

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The short-term loan is a gamble but his numbers may help keep him here if he can earn that starting job quickly.

FC Utrecht v Fc Twente - Dutch Eredivisie Photo by Angelo Blankespoor/Soccrates/Getty Images

FC Dallas recently signed goalkeeper Maarten Paes on a six-month loan from FC Utrecht with an option to buy following the loan spell.

Just 23-years old, Paes joins FC Dallas after four seasons with FC Utrecht. He started out his goalkeeping career at VV Union and joined the NEC Nijmegen’s academy. From there, Paes eventually developed into a backup goalkeeper in the 18-19 season and later joined Utrecht’s U21 and U23 teams during that season. He debuted for Utrecht’s premier side during the 19-20 season and impressed enough to win the starting job for some time as just a 21-year-old. With this impressive accomplishment at the club level, Paes has also competed internationally for the Netherlands at the U19 and U21 levels.

With Paes being so young and playing on many different stages, he certainly has a lot of promise and in this article, I will attempt to compare him with Jimmy Maurer, the current goalkeeper of FC Dallas.

Shot-Stopping

xG Against vs Conceded Goals

  • During the 21-22 season, Paes has allowed about 13.5% more goals over the season than what would be expected and in the previous season, Paes allowed about 7% more goals over the season than what would be expected.
  • Both of these numbers rank Paes below-average in the Eredivisie, indicating that Paes is not the best at stopping goals even when he should be.
  • Jimmy Maurer, the current FC Dallas goalkeeper, actually prevented about 5.5% goals across the 2021 season and 41.5% goals per game during the 2020 season.

Save %

  • During the 20-21 season, Paes ranked 20th out of 33 goalkeepers in the Eredivisie with a ~65.6% save percentage.
  • Paes improved on this mark in his most recent season in the Eredivisie, still just ranking 14th out of 23 goalkeepers in the Eredivisie, but most importantly improving his save % to ~68%.
  • An additional red flag in my personal opinion of Paes is typically goalkeepers who have a low save percentage and allow more goals than expected are goalkeepers who see a lot of shots
  • However, this is not the case for Paes, as he ranked 15th and 25th in shots against per 90 in his last two seasons in the Eredivisie, with his defense giving up around 3.8-3.9 shots per game.
  • Jimmy Maurer, on the other hand, had save percentages of ~67.8 and ~81.7% in his last two seasons while facing more shots per game (4.3-4.5). These statistics make it pretty clear that Maurer is the better shot-stopper among the two.

Exits per 90

  • Another facet of goalkeeping is a goalkeeper’s aerial ability, which the number of exits accurately predicts.
  • Paes ranked 12th in 21-22 with ~1.4 exits per 90 and nearly last in the 20-21 season, with ~.6 exits per 90
  • In comparison, Maurer had about 1 and 1.7 exits per 90 in his last two seasons in the MLS. Although Paes was terrible with his exits in the 20-21 season, there’s not much of a difference between these two goalkeepers in their most recent season so for the sake of completion we’ll say that they’re about equal in their aerial ability, with a slight edge to Maurer.
MLS: FC Dallas at LA Galaxy Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Passing

  • No doubt his best overall trait, Paes ranked 5th in 21-22 in pass % with a completion rate of ~87.4% and 4th in 20-21 with a completion rate of ~88.4%.
  • However, Paes only ranked 20th and 27th in passes per 90, which could be cause for concern if he cannot maintain his completion percentage with more attempts
  • With around the same number of passes per 90, Jimmy Maurer completed ~86% and ~89.6% in his last two seasons. These numbers are also pretty identical between these two goalkeepers, indicating that their general passing ability is roughly the same.

Long Passes

However, here is what separates Paes from most other goalkeepers and possibly the reason FC Dallas targeted him:

  • In the 21-22 season, Paes ranked 1st in long pass %, with a completion rate of ~73.2%.
  • This was no fluke as in the prior season, Paes ranked 7th in long pass %, with a completion rate of ~71.2%.
  • However, similar to his passing per 90, Paes also does not attempt many long passes:
  • He ranked nearly last (30th) in the Eredivisie during the 20-21 season in long passes per 90, attempting ~7 per 90
  • This season, he improved his mark and is currently ranked 18th, attempting ~7.7 per 90
  • Paes low attempt rate for long balls is also indicated by his average pass length as he ranked 18th (21-22) and 29th (20-21), showing that he doesn’t attempt many long passes each game and that most of his passes are short and accurate.

In contrast to Paes's deadly accurate long balls, Maurer only completed ~60% and ~69% of his long passes in his last two seasons. This presents a significant difference between Maurer and Paes and may provide some insight into how Nico Estevez looks to set up this MLS season. If they end up starting Paes, surely one of the major reasons will be because of his ability to accurately pick out a long pass.

Summary

Overall I think this is a very interesting move for Paes, as it shows what Nico Estevez favors by opting for a player who is below average at saving shots but can pass pretty well out of the back. Another interesting detail about this move is the fact that it is only a six-month loan. Given that Maurer is already a solid goalkeeper within MLS, I’m not sure if Paes will get the time or looks that he needs for FC Dallas to make the move permanent (which I’m assuming is their goal).

However, in the short term, I think the tandem of Jimmy Maurer and Maarten Paes is a good combination as you can mix and match two different skill sets; Maurer’s being his shot-stopping and Paes’ being his distribution from the back. Furthermore, Paes is still very young at only twenty-three years old, so he has time to develop his shot-stopping ability and become a well-rounded goalkeeper who is capable of manning the sticks at FC Dallas for a long time.