We’re not quite at the midway point in the 2022 season but given that the international break comes at what feels like that time, we’re going to roll with it here on this post.
FC Dallas is off to one of their best starts to the regular season in a few years under new manager Nico Estevez. The club has already matched its win total from a season ago with a 7-3-4 record. The club also sees two players in the top five of the league’s Golden Boot race and the defense has seen a drastic improvement from the previous season.
So what has gone well? Let’s dive into some things:
New additions showing well
FC Dallas made several key additions to the roster going into this season with Alan Velasco and Paul Arriola being the two main ones that grabbed all the headlines.
For Arriola, I’ll let MLSSoccer.com’s Andrew Wiebe explain what has made him great so far in a piece had online before the win in Orlando last weekend:
The basics are five goals and two assists. The deeper you go, though, among wingers…
Chances created from open play: 1st
Crosses from open play: 1st
Expected Assists: 1st
Big Chances Created: 1st
Expected goals (non-PK): 1st
I’m sure some of those numbers improved after his brace in Orlando but let’s just say that Arriola has been every bit worth the allocation money paid to obtain him from DC United.
Velasco in his short time with the club has also been stellar. He is dangerous on and off the ball and his intro with the club against Nashville was a great indication of what we can expect from him with this group.
But let’s not sleep on how well keeper Marrten Paes has been in goal for FC Dallas too. The Dutch keeper was brought in on a short-term loan that goes through June (though we fully expect him to get a fat-new deal with the club in the coming days) and since his arrival, he has solidified himself as one of the league’s best keepers (just ten goals given up in 12 games).
Defense is showing up
Speaking of the defense, having both Matt Hedges and Jose Martinez healthy again to start the season has been a massive boost to go alongside Paes in goal. FCD has only given up 13 goals in the 14 games played this season, which in terms of goals against, leads the Western Conference in that department. Dallas is only trailing Philadelphia and NYCFC, who have each given up just 10 goals apiece so far.
Jesus and Paxton being themselves
MLSSoccer.com’s Matt Doyle had this in a recent post about Pomykal that sums up his season so far very nicely:
Among all MLS central midfielders this year (minimum 200 pass attempts), Pomykal leads the league in pretty much all the basic numbers (passes attempted, completed, passes leading to a shot, pass-before-the-pass, etc.), but it’s the underlying numbers where he really stands out. Among central midfielders he leads the league in:
Defenders bypassed (i.e., the number of defenders his passing takes out of the play)
Defenders bypassed per 90 minutes (he’s almost 20% higher than the No. 2 guy on the list)
xG generated from possessions in which he’s involved (FORTY PERCENT higher than the No. 2 guy)
Passes that break the opposing backline (i.e., passes in behind)
Passes hit under pressure (he’s at 281; the No. 2 guy on the list is at 199)
Progressive passes per game
Progressive passes that end in the final third
Having him healthy and contributing to nearly everything on the field at times has been vital to this team so far in 2022.
Ferreira, on the other hand, has been just a killer in front of the net by scoring nine goals but more recently we’re starting to see his assist numbers pile up too. To those who still question him as a #9, just stop it. Watch the goals.
Major League Soccer's Leading Scorer: Jesús Ferreira pic.twitter.com/EriLA7I9bv— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) May 15, 2022
Finding results that wouldn’t have normally been there
I’ve said a few times this season that Dallas has picked up a win or a draw in a game that in years past would have easily been a loss. Look at the wins over Colorado or even the most recent one against Orlando. The same could be said about the early season draws in New York or Chicago. In a lot of those situations (not the Orlando one), FCD was outplayed in some areas of the field and yet they still managed a positive result.
Injuries haven’t piled up (yet)
If you look at the injury report most weeks this season, it has been pretty light compared to previous seasons. To be 14 games in the season and not have one major injury feels rare but to also not have any lingering injuries already that are keeping a player out for a game or two also feels rare as well. FCD made a big move this offseason when they hired Nico Estevez who brought in Miguel Villagrasa as the club’s Head of Performance. Having someone on the technical staff that is dedicated to the health and wellness of the players has been an absolute game-changer.
Role players making a difference
FLIP THE SCRIPT!— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) May 29, 2022
Franco Jara gives us the lead with a cheeky finish. pic.twitter.com/zAljyvM751
Week in and week out we’re seeing guys step up when their number is called. Part of it is due to Estevez figuring out which rotation makes sense for heavy stretches of the schedule and part of it is down to the form of the players too. We’ve seen veteran guys like Franco Jara take a lesser role off the bench, Facundo Quignon battle it out with Homegrown Edwin Cerrillo for a starting defensive midfielder spot, and Nanu and Ema Twumasi battle it out for the starting right back spot too. The team has been better off because of these guys competing and taking on roles that they might not have wanted to this time last year.
Obviously, there is still some room for improvement too when you look at the three losses or the games that ended in a draw earlier in the season. We’ll try to dive into those here in the next few days.
Let us know what we missed on this list above though for what has gone well. Discuss it below!