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2023 FC Dallas Player Recaps: Asier Illarramendi
The veteran midfielder was a huge addition down the stretch for FC Dallas.
Today, we begin our look at the FC Dallas roster with player recaps. Up first is one of the newer FC Dallas players this season, veteran midfielder and Champions League winner Asier Illarramendi.
Illarramendi came to Dallas over the summer following the club’s tough run of injuries that was hurting the roster. FC Dallas opted to trade away one of their Homegrown players (Edwin Cerrillo) to open up the space on the roster for him.
The veteran played 11 games after being signed in the summer, with seven being starts. He didn’t get on the scoreboard but easily contributed to the setup of goals from his play in the midfield. But as you’ll see, he was a force on the defensive side of things.
We saw it a lot down the stretch this season when he was on the field. He finds ways to get in the channels and block passing lanes. His passing helped move the ball forward a lot more than we saw in the spring and early summer from other midfielders.
Again, hard to pick out a moment where he got on the stat sheet, but I’ll go with this setup that he helped start against Seattle in Game Two as his highlight.
Will he be back in 2024?
When he was signed to a six-month contract for 2023 with an option for 2024, it felt like a smart rental for the club. But given the way he played in that short span between late August through the playoffs in November, he is well worth retaining for 2024. Illarramendi seems to want to be in Dallas and has taken to the city well.
The big question may come down to his option cost for the club in 2024. He made just a little over $300k in 2023. He will be in line for a raise, and if it is a big one, it may make retaining him difficult for the club to do, depending on what other heavy contracts they retain for next season.
Either way, I think they will make it happen, and he stays for another year.
I was a bit skeptical at first with the thought of the club signing a guy like this only to try to drive up some ticket sales on the heels of the post-Messi buzz that hit the town in August. It turned out not to be the case at all. Illarramendi wanted to be in Dallas and appeared to really be a calming presence on the field when he arrived.
He won over many fans over with how he calmed things down in the midfield and pushed the ball forward into the attack. I’m in the mindset now that a preseason camp will be a big boost for him and the club too, come next year.