As we continue to celebrate the 25th season of FC Dallas, we’re on to Part X 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 X we move to the forward line with off-strikers. The other kind of 10, if you will.
Now you may feel that making a distinction between off-strikers and pure 9s is overkill but I felt strongly that there have been excellent players at this club in both positions and limiting ourselves to just 5 total strikers wouldn’t do them justice. Hence the distinction.
Special thanks for participating in this off-striker 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
Off-striker is kind of an old school position that FCD hasn’t used in a few years. Typically these are the “other” striker in a frontline two-man combo like a 4-4-2 or 3-5-2. There are however some recent players that fit this category, as you will see.
Once again we had a dominant #1 choice who got 7 of 8 first-place votes. There were also clear #2 and #3 choices in a clear order. And like most of the other offensive positions, there was a wide spectrum of choices overall.
Top 5 FC Dallas Off-Strikers of All-Time
5. Bobby Rhine – 1999 to 2008Embed from Getty Images
Dallas Legend Bobby Rhine makes our top 5 rankings for the third time. His previous two nods came at right back (4th) and right mid (t-5th). Off-striker was Rhine’s most natural position and was where he played when drafted out of UConn.
From 1999 to 2004 – he converted to right back in 2005 – Rhine scored 19 goals with 23 assists mostly as a 2nd striker and sometimes as a wide mid. If you are interested in his all-time club records rankings you can read about them in our Top 5 Right Backs.
Rhine played forward with high intensity and work rate; he would have been wonderful in a modern, high-press team which wasn’t really a thing in the late 90s.
I’ll admit that this is a bit of a sentimental pick for me, but before he moved back to the midfield and later to outside back, Bobby was a reasonably productive withdrawn forward, showing the qualities that allowed him to extend his career once he started falling down the depth chart at forward: a high work rate and a willingness to get stuck in and win balls. He’s on my Mount Rushmore for this club, so why not list him in the top five at the position where he started his career?Dustin Christmann
4. Tesho Akindele – 2014 to 2018
Akindele was drafted 6th overall by Oscar Pareja in 2014 (FCD moved up to take him from 10th) and made an immediate impact winning the Rookie of the Year award with 7 goals with 3 assists that season. He remains the only ROY winner in club history.
Pareja, when he was Rapids head coach, originally spotted the 4-time All-American at the Colorado School of Mines where Akindele remains the school’s all-time goals leader with 76 goals.
A Canadian international, Akindele played high-striker, off-striker, both wings, and both wide-mid positions during his time in Dallas but he was certainly most effective playing off another high striker and running into the box from deep. Often an attacking sub, Akindele had a knack for big goals.
With FCD, Akindele scored 24 goals and 8 assists in 133 games but had only 67 starts. He’s 1 of only 7 players in club history with a hat trick and has the 2nd highest scoring percentage in club history with a 19.4% goals/shots ratio. He was part of the 2016 Double-Winning team.
After Pareja left following the 2018 season, Akindele was traded to Orlando City, which turns out to be fortuitous for him since Pareja landed there one season later.
Tesho scored so many big goals during his time with Dallas. The hat trick against San Jose in a nationally televised game that sealed his Rookie of the Year honor. The goal against Seattle in that epic playoff elimination game of 2015. The brace against Atlanta United in the last 10 minutes of the 4th of July game.Chamo Jones
3. Maxi Urruti – 2016 to 2018
Given the fact he played his entire time in Dallas as a lone striker, you might be surprised to find Maximiliano Urruti on this list of off-strikers. Obviously, our panel recognized that Urruti mostly played as a “false-9” in Pareja’s 4-2-3-1 system.
Urruti started his career with Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, the club to which I imagine he will someday return. After initially joining Toronto FC in MLS, Urruti moved to the Portland Timbers where he won the 2015 MLS Cup. After the Cup win, Urruti turned down the contract offer he received from the Timbers and was selected by FC Dallas in the MLS Re-Entry Draft. Which has to make him the best Re-Entry Draft pick in club history.
A tenacious worker, Urruti is terrific at the high press and attacking from deep. It would have been interesting to see him play off a true 9 in a two-striker system but that never really happened in Dallas.
3-time FCD Golden Boot winner, Urruti was the focal point of the offense during his run in Dallas. A run which peaked in the 2016 double (US Open Cup and Supporter’s Shield).
While Urruti ranks 9th all-time in FC Dallas goals with 29, his efficiency was a sore spot as he’s 3rd all-time in shots (311) and 5th in shots on goal (110) in just 95 games. In other words, he needed a large volume of shots.
Urruti remains 10th in offside with 55, 9th in goals per 90 minutes with 0.33, and 10th in assists per game with 0.23, that later stat being the most remarkable. His final stat line in Dallas reads 95 games, 90 starts, 29 goals, and 20 assists.
Urruti still plays for the Montreal Impact to whom he was traded following the 2018 season.
As everyone who has seen the guy knows, he was tireless and relentless. Not THE most skillful goal scorer, but more than made up with that trademark work rate.Steve Davis
2. Kenny Cooper – 2006 to 2009, 2013
Kenny Cooper Jr – who attended Jesuit – returned to his home town club after starting out with Manchester United’s youth set up and then moving into their pro ranks. While he never took the field for United’s first-team he was loaned out twice for some action.
Cooper signed with Dallas in 2006 and was one of the best strikers to ever wear the hoops. Blessed with the body to be a pure high 9, Copper had the desire, soccer mind, and skills of a winger and despite numerous attempts to convert him during his career he always played the same off-striker style.
In total, Cooper played 121 games in Dallas making 105 starts with 46 goals and 11 assists over four seasons. If Tyrone Marshall hadn’t broken Cooper’s leg in 2007 the numbers would be even more remarkable.
2008 was particularly noteworthy as Cooper won the MLS Golden Boot (18g, 3a) – finishing 2nd behind Landon Donovan – and was the MLS Comeback Player of the Year, an MLS Best XI, and an MLS All-Star.
FCD MVP in 2006 and 2008. Cooper’s 46 goals still stand alone in 2nd place in FC Dallas history.
After flirting with Cardiff City and Rosenborg – whose bids were rejected by MLS – Cooper transferred to 1860 Munich in July of 2009. 1860 loaned him to Plymouth Argyle for a time but eventually Cooper came back to MLS on a free transfer to Portland Timbers. From there Cooper went to New York Red Bulls – where he dropped another remarkable 18 goal season – before coming back to Dallas in 2013.
The second time in Dallas didn’t go as well as the first for Cooper with only 6 goals in 31 games, only 19 of which were starts. After the season, and after Coach Hyndman’s resignation, Cooper’s contract wasn’t picked up by the club. He went on to play for Seattle Sounders for two seasons and finished up his career in 2015 with the Montreal Impact.
Cooper now runs the Kenny Cooper Academy at the Performance Indoor Training center in Frisco and can occasionally be seen helping out the FC Dallas coaching staff.
One of the strongest strikers I’ve ever seen. Despite not being the best in one-on-ones he had a lot of power as a forward. I think if he hadn’t been injured his contribution to the club’s history would have been even greater.Carlos Alvarado
1. Jason Kreis – 1996 to 2004Embed from Getty Images
The Man. The Burn/FCD GOAT. The #1 face on the club’s Mt. Rushmore. #JK9.
After graduating from Duke in 2004, Kreis played with the New Orleans Storm and Raleigh Flyers before being selected 43rd overall (5th round) by the Dallas Burn in the 1996 MLS Inaugural Draft.
Mostly a wide mid prior to MLS, Kreis was often thought to be a tweener. Burn Head Coach Dave Dir recognized Kreis talent and used him in multiple roles: right mid, attacking mid, and final as a striker.
A starter in Dallas from the get go, Kries scored the first goal in club history against the Kansas City Wiz in the Burn’s 2nd ever game.
In 1999, Dir shifted Kreis to off-striker and arguably the best individual season in club history followed. Kreis’ 18 goals and 15 assists – the first 15 & 15 season in MLS history – earned Kreis the MLS MVP making him the first American-Born MVP in league history.
A Hall-of-Fame-worthy career was just getting started.
1999 MLS MVP
1999 MLS Best XI
1999 MLS Golden Boot
18 goals in 1999 – tied single-season club record (Cooper)
15 assists in 1999 – tied single-season club record (Barrios)
2-Time MLS Player of the Month (Only 6 players in franchise history have been named POTM)
7-Time MLS Player of the Week
5-Time Burn Golden Boot winner
6-Time Burn Game-Winning Goal leader
3-Time Burn Assist leader
3-Time Game Winning Assist leader
2-Time Burn MVP
7-Time MLS All-Star
3 four-assist games – 3 of the 7 in club history.
1 hat trick – 1 of 7 in club history
Kreis still owns 10 major club stat records and is in the top 10 in 6 others to this day.
247 games – 1st
91 goals – 1st (a staggering 45 ahead of 2nd place)
28 game-winning goals – 1st
10 multi-goal games – 1st
65 assists – 1st
19 game-winning assists – 1st
686 shots – 1st
313 shots on goal – 1st
300 corners taken – 1st (imagine how many goals he doesn’t have by taking corners)
357 fouls committed – 1st
358 fouls suffered – 2nd
227 starts – 2nd (I see you, Matt Hedges)
20,290 Minutes – 2nd
34 Cautions – 3rd
121 offside – 2nd
6 PK goals – t-4th (Zarco Rodriguez took more PKs back then)
Kreis has 14 caps with the USMNT.
After tearing his ACL in 2003 (damn you Southlake!) Kreis – who is one of the hardest working rehabbers I’ve ever seen – returned in 2004 to pass Roy Lassiter and become MLS All-Time leading scorer at that point.
Unfortunately, it all ended a bit sourly in Dallas. In November of 2004, the Burn – then under Hunt control – unceremoniously traded Kreis to Real Salt Lake where he became the first goal scorer in RSL franchise history as well. (That has to be an unbreakable record – first ever goal for two MLS franchises.)
I, for one, am really pleased to see the club reach out to Kreis during this Covid-19 shutdown and honor their most important player.
In May 2007, Kreis retired to take over as RSL’s head coach. He walked away as MLS’ all-time leading scorer with 108 goals – a record that didn’t last long as he was overtaken by Jamie Moreno later that year. Kreis Coached RSL to the 2009 MLS Cup, becoming the youngest coach to ever win the trophy
He’s since coached NYCFC, Orlando City, and at the age of 47 is currently the US U23 coach, Inter Miami Academy Director, and Head Coach of Fort Lauderdale CF (Inter’s USL-1 side).
Jason Kreis made his name as someone running off of others. He had incredible soccer intelligence and timing. He simply had the competitive intangibles that allowed his hidden talents to produce results.Dave Dir
Eddie Johnson – 2001 to 2005. Drafted out of the US U17 team in 2001, Johnson was one of the youngest players to ever sign with MLS (Nike Project-40). After playing sparingly his first two seasons, Johnson emerged in 2003 and then led the Burn in scoring in 2004.
Johnson is one of the fastest strikers to even grace a Dallas kit. He could play as both a 9 and as an off-striker, filling each role depending on who his partner striker was at the time.
Prior to the 2006 season, he was traded to Kansas City. Johnson went on to play for Fulham, Cardiff City, Aris, Preston North End, Seattle Sounders (where he did his best work), and DC United.
Johnson has been capped 63 times by the USMNT with 19 goals and was a member of the 2006 World Cup squad.
Since retiring, Johnson has been working on his US Coaching licenses and does personal instruction with professionals as well as kids.
While only at the beginning of his career, he was one of the best off-strikers in the history of the club. His run-ins with the club’s coaches as he struggled to mature dented his legacy but he was one of the best talents during his era.Dave Dir
Roberto Mina – 2005 to 2007. An Ecuadorian forward, Mina started his career with Huracan, playing with Emelec and El Nacional before joining FC Dallas in 2005.
A big-bodied striker who perhaps should have been more of a 9, Mina liked to drop deep and combine into midfield playing a 2nd striker role. He was always a dangerous and unpredictable player during his stay in Dallas.
Often hampered by injuries, Mina only played 37 games with FCD making 24 starts, scoring 10 goals and adding 5 assists. All of Mina’s production came in just two seasons as he was ruled out for all of 2007 after injuring his knee in a pre-season friendly.
Playing a nomadic career after leaving Dallas, Mina was last seen on the books at Guayas FC in 2016. He has 12 caps with Ecuador.
The Ecuadorian had a lot of quality but never really got into a flow with the team’s style amd personnel, but probably deserved a better career in Dallas.Kevin Lindstrom
Dominic Oduro – 2006 to 2008. A Ghanaian striker drafted out of Virginia Commonwealth 22nd overall in 2004 after winning the CAA Player of the Year award.
Blessed with crazy speed, Oduro was mostly used as a dangerous late-game sub while playing for FCD. 77 games but only 29 starts with a respectable 9 goals and 4 assists over three seasons.
FCD traded Oduro to New York Red Bulls in 2009 and he went on to a very impressive 13 year MLS career with Houston, Chicago, Columbus, Toronto, Montreal, and San Jose. 63 career goals, 32 assists, in 346 MLS games, and 213 starts. Not too bad at all.
Since leaving San Jose following 2018 he’s been playing for the Charlotte Independence in the USL Championship.
As fast as any forward that has ever played in Dallas but not always consistent with the final touch in front of goal.Carlos Alvarado
One Season Wonder
Damian – 1997 & 1998. While it says one season, technically it was two, but you will see why I said one in a moment. A supremely talented one-name Mexican attacker, Damian was the proverbial talent-rich head case. (Damián Álvarez Arcos is his longer Spanish name)
When he was on, he’s was so tantalizingly good. In his debut with the Burn in 1997 Damian notched 11 goals and 7 assists in just 19 games. That’s remarkable production.
Unfortunately, he skated off to Chivas of Guadalajara that winter, and when he came back to Dallas in 1998 it just wasn’t the same. After 13 games he made a massive contribution to club history by being traded to the New England Revolution for Oscar Pareja.
Damian went on to play for Club America, Pachuca, and Toluca to name just a few stops in his career. He had caps with Mexico’s U20s, U23s, and senior side but the last of those came in early 1997 before coming to Dallas.
Embed from Getty Images
A late addition to the roster in 1997, he managed to score 11 goals in 19 games as the secondary striker. Had his own crazy move to create space that I’ve yet to see again… some sort of windmill action. He scored the first Olimpico in club history.Chamo Jones
High-Strikers. The pure 9s.