FC Dallas 2019 regular season player grades

FC Dallas Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez

For FC Dallas the regular season has ended and a playoff game at Seattle looms in two weeks at the end of the international break. Winning or losing their playoff game(s) won’t affect the big picture for FC Dallas in the club’s first season under Luchi Gonzalez. So we’re moving ahead with our evaluations and that means the time has come to grade the 2019 FC Dallas season.

Let me remind you that I give grades based on expectations. I’m not giving out an F to someone who never plays if they were never expected to play.

Let’s start in the back.

Goalkeeper

Jesse GonzalezA-Solid season with 8 shutouts, 84 saves, and a 1.31 GAA. But more importantly, he turned a weakness, passing (career avg 58.4%) into a league-leading positive (80.3%). That’s a staggering jump in ability (+21.9%). He only gets a minus for the time-wasting silliness.
Jimmy MaurerBTurns in really good performances when he is called on to play and keeps himself ready to go. But he’s not going to displace Jesse.
Kyle ZobeckB+He’s not likely to see any playing time but is a really positive teammate and a good leader. He works with young guys well and helps coach up the North Texas guys who come into FCD training. So far he’s holding off Carlos Avilez for the 3rd spot on FCD’s roster.

Defenders

BressanC+Solid when called upon but commits too many fouls. A red card waiting to happen. Was brought in to challenge for a starting spot and hasn’t really done that.
Reggie CannonA-Solid season. Just maybe not the progression on the offensive end we hoped for. Solidified his spot in the USMNT pool but has a little let down after returning from US camps.
Matt HedgesAFantastic season, quiet leader. Raised his passing game 2% above his career average to play Luchi-Ball.
Moises HernandezCPlayed 17 games for San Antonio FC, just about half their season, but led them in yellow cards. Had some injury problems. Doesn’t seem to be in the long term FCD plans.
Ryan HollingsheadA+An MLS Best XI caliber season. Just amazing. Led MLS defenders in several stats. 6 goals tied for 3rd on FCD. Could still improve a little on the defensive end but is arguably FCD’s MVP.
Callum MontgomeryD4th overall draft picks should be challenging to start in MLS. Montgomery didn’t play a minute. On the upside, he has shown some real progress with North Texas SC, but this grade is for FCD.
John NelsonB+Might be the steal of the MLS SuperDraft. Naturally a lefty, but can also play right back and even center back. Almost took the left back job from Hollingshead, and it took at MLS All-Star worthy season to keep him out.
Bryan ReynoldsB+The 18-year-old made big strides. Proved himself a versatile bench contributor playing in 10 games. Should be ready to challenge for a starting spot going forward.
Reto ZieglerAAt the age of 33, captained the defense to the 7th lowest goals against in MLS. Went 4 for 5 on PKs. A prototypical Luchi-Ball center back.

Midfielders

Bryan AcostaBLooked pretty good as the linking-8. Was asked to convert to holding-mid after the sale of Carlos Gruezo and performed better than expected. But he led MLS with 12 yellow cards and was 4th in fouls committed.
Eric AlexanderBNot sure what anyone was expecting of a veteran player brought in to fill the bottom of the roster and be a good training player and teammate.
Pablo AranguizF0 goals, 0 assists in 11 games (7 starts). Off-field issues may be the root cause as he never settled in Dallas and missed his family. Loaned back to Chile midseason, It would be a surprise to see him return.
Francis AtuaheneDHampered by injuries, the 4th overall 2018 SuperDraft pick has never broken through. Went on loan to Austin Bold where he made 3 starts in 8 games played with 1 (terrific) goal and 1 assist.  Did score a nice goal for FCD at SJ when the roster was gutted with call ups.
Michael BarriosAFCD’s only consistent offensive threat. Tied the franchise single-season assist record with 15 (Jason Kreis – ’99).
Edwin CerrilloB-Started the season with a bang earning his way into the US U20 team at the last stage but seemed to be derailed by that opportunity and never quite played the same.
Edwin GyasiFA complete bust. After basically quitting on the team in the Orlando heat, only made one more sub appearance.
Jacori HayesCA fantastic teammate and squad member, but after his breakout 2018 should have challenged to be a starter in 2019 and that has never quite come to pass.
Santiago MosqueraC+Based on his form in the spring he was expected to be one of FCD’s best players but he’s been derailed by injuries and inconsistent play. When on form and healthy he’s a game-breaker.
Paxton PomykalA-FCD’s MVP of the first half of the season, Pomykal was slowed in the second half of the year by nagging injuries. One of the best U20s at the Worlds, he’s gotten into the Olympic team and USMNT picture.
Thomas RobertsB-6 games and 3 starts are more than was expected of this 18-year-old rookie Homegrown. He’s stuck behind Pomykal and Ferreira. Needs to dominate the playing time he’s getting at North Texas SC.
Brandon ServaniaB+Not in the picture for much playing time to start the season, Servania used a terrific U20 World Cup to catapult himself up the roster during the second half of the season and finished as a lock starter at the 8.
Ema TwumasiC-The 11th overall pick in 2018 hasn’t broken through with Dallas either but has made a (career-saving?) splash at Austin Bold. 11 starts, 15 games as a right back, mid, or wing. 2 goals (t-5th on team) and 20 chances created (6th on team).

Edit: It was pointed out I left off Carlos Gruezo, although that’s because he’s been sold and is not with the club anymore. If I had given him a grade it would have been an A.

Forwards

Dominique BadjiCStarted the year as the first choice 9 and based on the spring looked set for a breakout 10 to 15 goal season… which didn’t happen. Finished the year in a battle at left wing. Pretty much on career average with 6 goals and 3 assists.
Cristian ColmanInc.Basically missed the entire year with a torn ACL. Now he’s technically healthy and 100%, but that’s not the same as being back to prime career form.
Jesus FerreiraAStarted the year without a clear position. Won the job at the 9. Then late in the year won the job as the 10. The 18-year-old is FCD’s leading scorer on the year with 8 goals. Added 6 assists too. 
Zdenek OndrasekB-If the season where the last 8 games this would be an A++ grade. But alas, it’s not. The whole year matters and for the first 26 games, Cobra was of little use to the organization. Once he figured it out though, what an ascent.
Ricardo PepiB+After tearing up USL-1, the 16-year-old Pepi signed on with FCD as a Homegrown. Made some starts in the US Open Cup, got some sub time in MLS, and is making strides in training. All ahead of schedule.
Dante SealyC-Signed a “protect the investment” type Homegrown deal and was loaned to North Texas for the season. Was never expected to play for FCD this season. But he hasn’t yet won a starting spot with NTX and is behind multiple players on the depth chart at wing.

Coach

Luchi GonzalezBIt was always going to be a year of learning for a head coach with zero pro-level coaching experience. As expected he made some mistakes but showed great self-awareness and recognition of the learning opportunities. Brought a positive, exciting style of play his squad seems to like. He’s all in on the new Academy/Homegrown mantra at FC Dallas.

That’s it for the regular season grades… on to the playoffs and then 2020.

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