We’re deep into the offseason, and while we wait on FC Dallas to sign new players, draft players in next week’s SuperDraft or announce anything of note, I felt it was a good time to take a step back and analyze the club’s track record with the Designated Player slot.
For a little backstory, the DP rule was brought into Major League Soccer in 2007 when David Beckham joined the LA Galaxy. The rule allows MLS clubs to sign up to three players over the maximum salary budget charge. FC Dallas has done that for most seasons by filling all three slots.
Today, we’ll go from the club’s first attempt at using this slot all the way to the current trio of DPs. Here’s how I rank the club’s Designated Players from worst to first by grouping them into tiers.
Tier 3 - Big Swing and a Miss
17. Anibal Chala (2017)
I know to some, the original DP for the club is the worst, but he at least saw action on the field for the club, whereas Chala never saw an MLS minute. Instead, the club struggled to figure out what to do with him in 2017, sending him on loan L.D.U. Quito for the 2017 season before selling him to Quito due to a performance trigger in the loan agreement.
16. Pablo Aranguiz (2018-2020)
There was so much promise with this guy when he arrived in the summer of 2018. MLS bought into the hype and put him on the annual 22 Under 22 list. But it wasn’t meant to be in the end. Zero goals, zero assists in 20 total games played.
Maybe it was a product of Luchi Gonzalez not knowing what to do with him. Or maybe he didn’t actually want to be here in Dallas. Either way, after a couple of months where he failed to really make an impact in 2019, the club sent him back to South America, where he seemed to be happy again in Chile. During the covid season of 2020, he was officially sold to Universidad de Chile.
15. Denilson (2007)
I nearly made a tier just for Denilson and Franco Jara but opted not to go that route. Denilson was a product of the front office thinking a World Cup veteran was the answer to getting butts in the seats in their new stadium. After scoring from the penalty spot in his first start in Frisco, the Brazilian failed to find the back of the net or contribute to any other goals in seven games. The team struggled to figure out how to work him into the lineup and then opted not to retain him after the 2007 season.
14. Cristian Colman (2017-19)
Everyone probably remembers two different highlights of Colman during his time in Frisco. One was his debut goal in the Concacaf Champions League. The other was an absolute sitter of a goal in San Jose, where he missed from inches away. He appeared in 41 games across a pair of seasons with the club, scoring four goals, before being released after the 2019 season. (Note: he did suffer an ACL injury towards the end of the 2018 season but couldn’t work his way back in time to make an impact in 2019)
13. Andres Escobar (2014)
Escobar signed on loan from Dynamo Kyiv ahead of the 2014 season. He had four goals in 29 appearances across all competitions for the club. Honestly, he’s probably one of the more forgettable DPs in club history.
12. Julian de Guzman (2012)
Maybe it is unfair to have de Guzman higher than some of the last couple of names on the list, but he was one of those trades within MLS that made sense at the time. Just as the playoff push was getting started in 2012, the club swung for de Guzman from Toronto and even managed not to have to pay his full wages (TFC covered most of it). After 12 games and one goal, the club opted not to retain de Guzman in the 2013 season.
11 Eric Hassli (2013)
I’ll admit it; I loved Hassli during his brief time in Dallas. He came via another trade with Toronto FC, this time for a second round draft pick. He only appeared in 15 games for the club in that season and never found the back of the net, either. But man, he loved his BBQ.
Tier 2 - Decent but not game-changing
10. David Texiera (2014-15)
When I think back to Texiera’s time in Frisco, I always return to the lovely goal he scored in the Texas Derby. There were moments when Texiera really meshed well with the likes of Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz. And then there were times when he completely disappeared on the field. The club let him go after the 2015 season, and if you fast-forward to present-day Texiera, you can find him in the USL League One with Chattanooga. Yeah, he signed there ahead of the 2021 season.
9. Santiago Mosquera (2018-20)
I think Mosquera is another young guy on this list that fell victim to the early hype machine. He showed well in his preseason debuts back in 2018 with the club and got people really excited by what he could bring to the field. Instead, after 76 total games with the team, he only found the back of the net 13 times. Three of those goals did come in a hat trick performance over Colorado in the covid-season of 2020. Honestly, I think he could have gone higher on this list had he been in the right system or had a coach that could push him enough (yep, I don’t think Luchi was a good fit for him as a player).
8. Bryan Acosta (2019-21)
There were moments in 2019 and maybe even after the league resumed play in 2020 when Acosta was worth every bit of what the club paid him. But there were too many bad moments that left fans annoyed with how he’d sky a shot from 30 yards into the stadium's roof or fail to link the defense and the attack through the midfield. In some ways, he may have been the wrong player for the system at the time. In other ways, maybe it was just an unfortunate time for him to be in Dallas (ie: covid, changing coaches, etc).
7. Franco Jara (2020-now)
We all know the story about how the club got Jara to come to Frisco. Dan Hunt fell in love with the guy during the CCL when Pachuca downed FC Dallas in Frisco. He was a game-changer then, and Hunt assumed that would translate well in MLS when he got him to sign a DP deal in 2020.
I think off the field, Jara could easily be listed as a game-changer with regard to how the young team looks up to him these days. On the field is a slightly different story as he lacks the pace to be a weekly starter in MLS, and outside of his hold-up play, he isn’t really one to ignite the attack like he probably did during his days at Pachuca.
Still, 17 goals in 78 games isn’t terrible, but when you factor in his high salary of over $3 million, it is hard not to get frustrated by this signing. I think had he had double-digit goals in 2021 and in 2022, things could be different here.
Tier 1 - These are the types you want as DPs
6. Alan Velasco (2022-now)
Is this too low for Alan? Maybe but I still think this signing has been every bit what we wanted it to be. From his goal scored in his debut against Nashville back in March to his free kick goals, Velasco has been what we wanted a young DP to be for this club.
I think the sky is the limit, too, for him, as he wants to be here and knows he can use this club as a springboard to Europe.
5. Fabian Castillo (2011-16)
I know the end of his run in Frisco left a bitter taste in our mouths, but the other years here were fun to watch. He was an MLS All-Star in 2015 and even had a couple of call-ups to the Colombian national team that year. Across nearly 160 games with FC Dallas, he tallied 34 goals (5th all-time at the club), or 39 across all competitions. He also contributed 31 assists across all competitions as well.
But it is hard to discuss Castillo without bringing up his transfer from Dallas in the 2016 season to Turkey. He blamed the club for how it all went down, while many may recall him bolting Texas for Turkey differently.
4. Jesus Ferreira (2022-now)
Jesus is a unique DP for the club. Not only was he the first Homegrown player to work his way into a DP contract, but he is also the first father-son DP combo in club and league history (more on his dad in a minute). We won’t get into his pre-DP years as much in this piece, but his first DP year was a smashing success that saw him tie a club record for goals in a single season, make the league’s All-Star team, earn a spot on the Best XI team and win the Young Player of the Year award. Oh, and he became the first FC Dallas player to appear at a World Cup. So yeah, not bad. It feels like the best yet to come with him, too, given his age and desire to leave a legacy here.
3. Carlos Gruezo (2016-19)
I think one argument could be made that FCD has yet to replace Gruezo in their lineup since selling him to FC Augsburg during the 2019 season. Gruezo wasn’t a guy that will flash a ton of big stats like goals or assists but what he did bring was a presence in the midfield that really helped lockdown the defense and, during the 2016 season, helped push the club to a Supporters’ Shield trophy and a US Open Cup win. He did score three goals during his stay in Frisco. Still, the Ecuadorian international always seemed eager to return to Europe to remain on the national team’s radar (which seemed to work as he appeared in a couple of games for Ecuador at the 2022 World Cup).
2. Mauro Diaz (2013-18)
Weirdly, like Castillo, the ending of his time here wasn’t great, but everything else in between was so fun to watch. Diaz helped guide the club in 2016 to a Shield and USOC title. Many of us believe that had he not gotten injured in the home finale that year against Seattle, the team likely could have gone on to win a treble at MLS Cup.
Diaz showed in 2015 and 2015 just how special he could be when he 13 goals and 23 assists across those two seasons. But coming back from the injury was tough to overcome. He missed a good chunk of the 2017 season, and in 2018, the club sold him to Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai FC of the UAE Arabian Gulf League. The timing for his departure was right as he didn’t appear happy towards the final months of his time in Frisco.
1. David Ferreira (2009-13)
After waiting a year after the Denilson signing, FC Dallas tried their hands at another DP and immediately struck gold. Ferreira helped guide FC Dallas to their only MLS Cup appearance in 2010, the same season he was named league MVP after scoring eight goals and adding 13 assists during the regular season. In total, he scored 24 goals and added 39 assists during his time with FC Dallas.
After signing a long-term contract with the club, he moved his family to Frisco and thus gave us Jesus Ferreira. Like others on this list, he suffered a bad injury midway through his time in Frisco as he tore his ACL in a match in Vancouver in 2011.
Alright, now it is your turn. How did we do here on this list? What changes would you make if you were putting together your own rankings? Let’s discuss/debate it all below.