As we continue to celebrate the 25th season of FC Dallas, we’re on to Part IX of our top 5 player rankings by position.
To make these rankings, I approached several people I know and respect who have been working around, writing about, or following the team for 25 years to give input. They may come and go over the course of the season as schedules allow. I will be giving them credit on each story to which they contribute.
For Part IX we flip to the left side… the 11s. Wide left midfielders and wingers.
Special thanks for participating in this left mid or wing ranking:
Carlos Alvarado – FC Dallas Spanish Play by Play
Dustin “El Jefe” Christmann – FCD’s 1st Fan, founder of the Inferno, former 3rd Degree writer
Dave Dir – The Burn’s 1st coach, former color commentator
Steve Davis – The Dean of Dallas soccer writers and current FCD color commentator
Chamo Jones – former 3rd Degree writer
Kevin Lindstrom – 3rd Degree writer since 2000
Damian Wright – former 3rd Degree writer
At the left mid/wing position there one truly dominant player who received 7 of 8 first-place votes in this tier. The one non-first place vote he got was for 2nd place. So he was as decisive a winner as pretty much any vote-getter we’ve had.
After that, however, it was a complete mess. I do think this was because of the relative quality at left mid (until recent years). Votes were scattered among many players all moving up and down the table.
2nd and 3rd place stood out just a bit with the number of votes they received and with a little tabulation of the results the 4th and 5th place nods emerged as well. While we didn’t end up with a tie, it wasn’t obvious at first who separated for the bottom two spots.
Unlike the right side, players that transition from left mid to left back didn’t really factor.
Top 5 FC Dallas Left Mids or Wings of All-Time
5. Juan Toja – 2007 to 2008
Toja finished 5th on our list of linking mids (8s) – receiving the same amount of votes there as he did here as a left mid – which I think tells us something about his perceived role in the team and the unsettled nature of the squad at that time.
I won’t rehash him again here, but I think you can call Toja the biggest case of “what if” in club history. He was well on his way to becoming an FC Dallas club legend before he left. So in many ways, his departure remains a real dark moment for many fans.
Toja played 51 games for Steaua București (more than he played in Dallas), 37 games for Aris, and 23 for the Revolution playing two seasons at each. But with none of those teams, just as with FC Dallas, was he really healthy enough to play a full schedule.
Due to a lingering injuries, he hasn’t played since 2013 so he missed what should have been the prime of his career from 28 to 32 (He’s only 34 now).
Like I said, “what if?”
One of the best FCD has had on the left side. Fast and technical, as well as helping to defend when required.Carlos Alvarado
As the old joke goes, “he only uses his right foot for standing!” But what a left foot it was. Toja was skillful and creative, and came close to stealing the show at the 2007 MLS All-Star game.Steve Davis
4. Antonio “Chivas” Martinez – 2000 to 2003Embed from Getty Images
“Chivas,” as he was called by literally everyone, was a nickname he earned for being a true fanatic of the Mexican club.
In an era of traditional wide mids and crossing, Martinez was a player who liked to dribble and pass in combination more like a 10 or false wing. He was perhaps ahead of his time.
Martinez was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2000 MLS SuperDraft, 22nd overall, by Dallas. A creative player and quality playmaker on the wing, Martinez twice had a 3 assists game – a feat still tied for a club’s single-game record with several other players – and ranks 2nd in franchise history with 0.53 assists per 90 minutes as well as 4th with 0.34 assists per game. He also took a lot of corners in his day (he’s 5’7”) ranking 9th in franchise history with 115.
With Dallas: 68 games, 37 starts, 7 goals, and 23 assists (10th in FCD history). Traded to the LA Galaxy in 2003 (part of the Suarez trade, maybe the club’s worst-ever); Martinez signed with Salamanca (Spain) and then Necaxa in 2004; before, sort of, making the dream move to Chivas USA in 2005.
Martinez is currently an Assistant Principal at Agnew Middle School in Mesquite, Texas.
Instant offense from the wing. Early in his career, he came off the bench to provide a spark, a change of pace, and he always did. In 2002, as a regular starter, he led the team in assists. He is one of the few players in club history that could get entire sections of the stadium to stand and cheer in anticipation with every touch.Chamo Jones
3. Brad Davis – 2003 to 2004
An MLS great by most estimations (368 games, 122 assists), Davis mostly played left midfield in Dallas but also spent some time as a central playmaker. An amazingly accurate passer and even though he was a great crosser he often played on the wing as a modern false wing – just like his predecessor Martinez – working as a playmaker from the outside.
Acquired in 2003 from the MetroStars (who had drafted him in 2002), Davis played 2 seasons in Dallas with 45 starts in 55 games player registering 8 goals and 7 assists. The Burn’s 2003 Golden Boot winner. Davis still ranks 7th in franchise history with 150 corners.
Prior to the ’05 season, he was traded to the Quakes (who moved to Houston in 2006) for Richard Mulrooney and Arturo Alvarez. Davis played 11 seasons for the Dynamo before playing one final year with Sporting KC in 2016. Six-time MLS All-Star, two-time MLS Cup Champion, 2011 MLS Best XI, and runner-up 2011 MLS MVP.
Davis is currently the Technical Director of Kansas City Scott Gallagher Soccer Club.
While his time was during a rough patch of Dallas history, Brad Davis was one of the best attackers despite the team’s limitations. His career beyond Dallas shows his quality.Kevin Lindstrom
2. Brek Shea – 2008 to 2012
Dane Brekken “Brek” Shea is undoubtedly the best player of all-time from College Station, Texas, and the highest-ranked conventional wide mid in our list.
Shea came out of the Texans SC program (Now RISE Texans) – that produced Chris Richards and Chris Cappis – before joining the US U17 residency program at IMG. Drafted 2nd overall by FC Dallas in the 2008 SuperDraft after signing a Generation Adidas contract.
FCD’s sole All-Star in 2011 and 2012, MLS Best XI in 2011, and FCD MVP in 2011. Shea was an MLS MVP candidate in 2011 with 11 goals and 4 assists and remains tied for 6th all-time in FCD history with 9 game-winning goals.
98 games, 78 starts, 19 goals, and 14 assists over 5 seasons in Dallas and he wasn’t a full-time starter until his third year. Plus there was the season Schellas Hyndman tried to make Shea a center back, saying that based on his size and skill set Shea might be a $10 million defender. Which was probably true.
In January of 2013, Shea was transferred to Stoke City. He has since played for Barnsley, Birmingham City, Orlando City, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Atlanta United along the way converted to left back. Shea has 34 caps with the United States and is a former U17, U20, and U23.
Shea – always one of the most colorful characters in MLS history – is currently out of contract at the age of 30.
The worst sufferer of “million-dollar talent, ten-cent head” in the history of the club. Yes, the guy had skills. Not only was he a good winger with speed and skill, but he was a decent forward and left back as well. He was headed for national team stardom and a big international payday. He got that big international transfer to England when he went to Stoke in 2013 and callups to the national team. But because he hasn’t had the maturity to build on his talent and early successes, his time in England came to an unceremonious and forgettable end and he hasn’t remained with a team for more than two seasons since returning to MLS.Dustin Christmann
1. Fabian Castillo – 2011 to 2016
The most dangerous left winger in FC Dallas history. Probably the first high winger at the club as the game worldwide moved away from the 4-4-2
His transfer to FC Dallas at 18 was facilitated by then Academy Director Oscar Pareja with whom Castillo lived for several years in Dallas. Looking back I was somewhat surprised that Castillo was in Dallas for six seasons total as it feels much shorter in hind-sight.
159 games, 138 starts, 34 goals, and 30 assists. 2015 MLS All-Star, 2015 MLS Best XI, 2014 & 2015 FC Dallas MVP, and 2015 FCD Golden Boot (9g, 9a). Led FCD in game-winning goals in 4 out of his 6 seasons. Ranks in the FC Dallas Top 10 in 12 different categories.
Games: 159 – 6th
Starts: 149 – 8th
Minutes: 12,016 – 10th
Goals: 34 – 4th
Assists: 30 – 8th
Shots: 305 – 4th
Shots on Goal: 125 – 3rd
Cautions: 22 – t-10th
Offside: 124 – 1st (ouch)
Game-Winning Goals: 12 – 3rd
Game-Winning Assists: 8 – t-8th
Goals per Game: 0.21 – 10th
Assists per Game: 0.19 10th
Unfortunately, Castillo departed FCD on a sour note, vanishing in the middle of the 2016 season and forcing the club to deal him to Trabzonspor in Turkey. The move would hardly be considered a success as Castillo played just 38 games over 2 seasons with just 3 goals. Castillo signed with Xolos for 2018-19 and moved again to Querétaro for 2019-20. He turns 28 in just over a month.
When I look at his statistics, those really don’t tell the story. In 2014 he was maybe one of the most dynamic players I had seen in the league, scoring 10 goals that season. He had the ability to run at defenders and get to the end line and just needed to finish a little more consistently. Castillo then got to pair up with Barrios in 2015 and they made up the quickest winger duo in club history and I felt that was his best season making the All-Star game. Castillo wreaked havoc on opposing defenses the entire time he was in Dallas and was able to break teams down with ease.Dave Dir
Arturo Alvarez – 2005 to 2008. One of the 4-pack of players we ranked 5th at right wing, where he played more often on his opposite foot, Alvarez gets on Honorable Mention at left wing. Four seasons in Dallas with 86 games, 52 starts, 11 goals, and 11 assists a fair bit of it as a super sub.
Alvarez is currently a Realtor with Kingshill | Martini Group Compass.
I think that despite his injuries he helped the team a lot. A very talented player and in one on one situations he almost always managed to get the pass off. I remember his outstanding performance in the 2007 Super League against Mexican teams.Carlos Alvarado
Brian Haynes – 1996 to 2000. Like a lot of Dir’s core players, Haynes had an established pro career prior to the launch of MLS, winning titles with the Colorado Foxes. Haynes turned pro out of Erskine College back in 1989. He played five seasons with the Burn – 77 games, 38 starts, 8 goals, and 6 assists – before becoming an assistant coach. Remains tied for the club record for fouls suffered in one game (8), which tells you something about how annoying he was to play against. Haynes has 21 caps for T&T.
2013 NASL Coach of the Year with the Atlanta Silverbacks, Hayes is currently the U19 Academy Coach for Inter Miami.
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Brian Haynes was one of the smoothest left wingers to grace the cotton bowl surface. He had incredible pace, a cannon left foot, the ability to accelerate with such ease, and was one of career the best servers of the ball in club history. He was a true left-footer and rarely used is right and yet even though teams knew he was going left they rarely could stop him. He was on the back-half of a great career when he arrived in Dallas and after an unfortunate injury coming into the ’96 season, he still managed to play 88 games for the Burn.Dave Dir
Ryan Hollingshead – 2014 to Current. While he’s reached his professional peak as a left back where he ranked #3, Hollingshead does contribute as a left mid or winger from time to time. 2012 Pac-12 Player of the Year mostly as an attacking wide mid or winger with 7 goals and 8 assists.
He’s currently sitting on 145 games played for FC Dallas and should finish his career in the Top 10 in many FCD All-Time ranks.
The utility player of the club that is very effective as a left mid. He combines well, looks to put the defense on its heels, and creates chaos with his attacking movements. He also takes his chances very well converting at a very high rate.Chamo Jones
One Season Wonder
Dave van den Bergh – 2009. A product of the Ajax youth system, van den Bergh played the bulk of his career with FC Utrecht before coming to MLS and playing for the Wizards and Red Bulls. He was acquired via trade for Dom Oduro for the 2009 season and proceeded to have one of the best single assist seasons in club history: 30 starts with 3 goals and 11 assists.
Shockingly, FCD waived VDB prior to 2010 after he reportedly questioned Coach Hyndman’s methods. With FCD holding his rights and apparently being unwilling to part with them, he was effectively forced into retirement.
VDB is currently an assistant coach with the New England Revolution.
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He only played one season in Dallas, but you could see he was at a different level. In terms of level of play, a longer run in Dallas could have easily seen him higher on the list.Kevin Lindstrom
Righties – There have been a few righties who either played left mid from time to time or for an entire season. Enough PT they got consideration in our left side ranking. So shout out to both Michael Barrios and Mark Santel for getting a vote each on the left side.