FC Dallas 25th Season Top 5 All-Time Players – Right Back

As we continue to celebrate the 25th season of FC Dallas, we’re on to Part IV 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. 

I’d like to welcome a new participant in our ranking this week, FC Dallas Spanish Play by Play Man, Carlos Alvarado.

Special thanks for participating in this Right Back ranking: 
Carlos Alvarado – FC Dallas Spanish Play by Play
Dave Dir – The Burn’s 1st coach, former color commentator
Steve Davis – The Dean of Dallas soccer writers and current FCD color commentator
Andy Swift – The KickAround, former Burn GM
Kevin Lindstrom – 3rd Degree writer since 2000
Dustin “El Jefe” Christmann – FCD’s 1st Fan, founder of the Inferno, former 3rd Degree writer
Chamo Jones – former 3rd Degree writer
Damian Wright – former 3rd Degree writer

For Part IV we move to the right side of the backline… 

The Top 4 in this Right Back ranking were quite clear, 5th place is where it got murky and the choice just squeaked in by virtue of the votes he did get being very high.  Like Left Back, there was no unanimous vote-getter at Right Back.

Top 5 FC Dallas Right Backs of All-Time

5. Jorge “Zarco” Rodriguez – 1997 to 2002

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No, your eyes do not deceive. No, I didn’t forget to edit this list.  Zarco has now ranked at two positions and gotten votes at three, and I bet we haven’t heard the last of him. 

You can go back and read his blurb when he ranked at center back if you want the resume, no need for me to repeat it here.   Zarco is currently the Head Coach of FAS in El Salvador.

A versatile player who generally did the job wherever he was needed.

Carlos Alvarado

4. Bobby Rhine – 1999 to 2008

Bobby Rhine, July 29, 2006. (Jason Gulledge, 3rd Degree)

Bobby was drafted by FC Dallas as a striker and played there from 1999 to 2004. In 2005, with the rebranding of the franchise Rhine was “rebranded” to right back by Colin Clarke.  From 2005 to 2008 Rhine played 84 games as a right back making 70 starts scoring 4 goals and registering 11 assists.  He added 2 more assists in 6 playoff starts.  

Career regular-season numbers of 23 goals and 34 assists most of which came during his striker days.

A rare one-club player, Rhine sits quit high on many FC Dallas franchise record ranks.
212 – 3rd in Games Played
136 – 10th in Starts
12,622 – 6th in Minutes
34 – 7th in Assists
9 – 7th in Game-Winning Assists
204 – 7th in Shots
95 – 8th in Shots on Goal
179 – 10th in Fouls Committed
202 – 6th in Fouls Suffered 202
27 – 8th in Cautions

Bobby Rhine passed away in 2011 at the age of 35.

One of the legendary players of the franchise transitioned from forward to right back for the final couple of seasons of his playing career. It was rough initially but evolved pretty quickly into a solid attacking option out of the back with his overlapping runs.

Chamo Jones

3. Zach Loyd – 2010 to 2016

12 June 2013 – FC Dallas defender Zach Loyd (#17) takes the ball from Houston Dynamo forward Andrew Driver (#20) during the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup game between FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas. FC Dallas won the game 3-0. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)

Unfortunately, Zach Loyd is yet another FC Dallas defender whose career was cut short by injury (concussion symptoms).  Today, Zach is only 32 and without the concussion might be just now nearing the end of his career.

Loyd started his career at right back, which is where he ranks today, although he did play center back in later seasons. 180 games played ranks 4th all-time in franchise history, 168 starts ranks 3rd, 14,742 minutes ranks 3rd, 176 fouls suffered is 8th, and 4 red cards ties for 3rd.  Loyd was named the FC Dallas Humanitarian of the Year three times (’14, ’15, ’16). 

Loyd wore Bobby Rhine’s #19 in the first two seasons of his career; but when Bobby passed away, Loyd got special permission from MLS to make a mid-season number change – twice -thus creating the un-officially retired #19.  First, for one game (Sept. 10, 2011) Loyd changed to #91.  Then for the rest of 2011, he wore the #12. Loyd switched again to #17 in 2012 and wore it for the rest of his time in Dallas.

Due to his injury, Loyd was left unprotected for the 2017 MLS Expansion draft where he was selected by Atlanta United but he never played for the 5-Stripes.

Loyd is currently a coach for Vickery United, a youth soccer team for refugees in the North Dallas, as well as Lone Star Republic of the UPSL (Who have fantastic kits).

Zach was a quality defender who was one of the first who played the position with true balance to his game, in my opinion. He was a quality 1v1 defender with the ability to get involved in the attacking third and in build up.

Dave Dir

2. Diego Soñora – 1996 to 1997

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Soñora started his career at Boca Juniors where he won 5 titles between 1988 and 1995, which should give you some idea of his talent level. 

In 1996 he was convinced to join the Dallas Burn as one of the club’s original allocations by Burn assistant coach Carlos Cordoba.  Soñora was quality in both attacking and defending in an era when many outside backs were just defensive in nature.

A cornerstone of the first two Burn teams, Sonora made 47 appearances, all starts, mostly as a right back – although he did play some wide mid and wing back – scoring 3 goals and adding 9 assists.  Named an MLS All-Star in 1996 and 1997. Soñora tied for the Burn lead in assists in 1996 with 7 (Gerell Elliott). 

In 1998 Soñora moved to the MetroStars and in 1999 he played for DC United, winning an MLS Cup, before joining Chilean side Deportes Concepción. Soñora currently coaches in Argentina and owns the Escuela de Futbol indoor facility.

One of most underrated and forgotten stars from team’s past. Arguably, the best attacking outside back in team’s history.

Andy Swift

Side note: Diego’s sons Alan and Joel were both born in the US and are eligible for US national teams. Both are midfielders and play in Argentina, Alan (21yo) at Independiente and Joel (23yo) at Arsenal de Sarandí.  Joel has been capped by the US at the U17 and U20 levels.

1. Reggie Cannon – 2017 to 2020

Reggie Cannon dribbles up-field against the Philadelphia Union on opening day of the 2020 season in a 2-0 FC Dallas win, February 29, 2020. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)

Despite being only 21 and starting for only 2 seasons, Reggie Cannon was the clear top choice in our poll with 5 first-place votes out of 9.  Cannon has moved to the top of the USMNT depth chart so he’s certainly as talented as anyone to ever play right back for this club. 

Now in his 4th season as a pro, Cannon has made 64 appearances and 61 starts (as of this writing) with 2 goals and 4 assists.  While Cannon has never been named an MLS All-Star or to the Best XI, he has been ranked on the coveted MLS 22 Under 22 list for 2 years running (5th in 2019, 7th in 2018).

Yes, the sample is relatively small so far. But considering his upside – not to mention the lock-down defensive work and passing in all three-thirds of the field – I think we’ll come to recognize him as the club’s best at this position if he isn’t already.

Steve Davis

Side note: With Reggie topping the right back list, the entire current starting back 4 ranks in the top 5 (and Goalkeeper as well).  Is there some recency bias at play here? The last two seasons are decidedly middle of the pack statistically. However, the league overall is certainly better than it’s ever been so perhaps current players can fairly be said to be some of the best in club history.

Honorable Mention

Atiba Harris – 2009 to 2010 and 2015 to 2017.  Harris had two stints with the club, the second time around he was converted to a right back by then Coach Oscar Pareja.  33 cautions ranks 4th at FCD, he twice led FCD in cautions for a season with 8 each in 2010 and 2015.   41 games and 40 starts as a forward from 2009 to 2010 with 6 goals.  84 games and 63 starts with 5 goals form the right back position between 2015 and 2017.

At the age of 35 Harris still plays for the OKC Energy.

Harris is probably a surprise entry on this list, but the veteran player contributed to FC Dallas’ 2016 historic Double.

Kevin Lindstrom
Atiba Harris, 2015. (Craig Marcho, 3rd Degree)

Ryan Suarez – 2001 to 2003. One of my personal all-time favorite FC Dallas players.  56 games, 55 starts, 2002 MLS All-Star, and a legit 2001 Rookie of Year candidate. 4 goals and 5 assists for Dallas.  Traded to LA Galaxy in the Ezra Hendrickson deal during the 2003 disaster season. Earned the LA Riot Squad (LARS) Player of the Year Award in 2004, which should tell you something.  Suarez was a better man marker than a zonal defender.

I’ll let El Jefe preach on this one.

Man, what could’ve been. This guy had all the physical skills: He was big, he was fast, and he was decent with the ball at his feet. There was a reason why he was starting so many games his rookie season in 2001, was in the 2002 All-Star Game, and was depicted on the Dallas Burn Strike Force lunchboxes (alongside Jason Kreis, Oscar Pareja, and Eddie Johnson) that the team gave out at a game in 2002.

If you look at the 2020 media guide, he’s still got more assists than most of the fulltime defenders that have played for this team… from just two and a half seasons with the team.

Only problem, he was a bit of a hothead. He committed needless fouls, and shot off his mouth a little too often. Things started heading downhill when he reacted poorly to being moved to center back at the start of 2003, and he was traded away before the end of the season. 

Dustin Christmann
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Jackson – 2010 to 2013. Initially arriving on loan from Sao Paulo in 2010, Jackson Gonzalves was purchased outright in 2012.  Jackson played 91 games for FC Dallas with 78 starts. To my memory, he was better as a midfielder but he was brought in as a right back.  A terrific player when he was up for it with high game impact.  11 goals and 13 assists during his stint in Dallas before being traded to Toronto FC after getting into a fight with David Ferreira at halftime of a game against Seattle.

Now 31, Jackson was still playing with Fresno FC in the USL Championship last season.

When he wanted to play he was perfect for the position. A very talented but immature player.

Carlos Alvarado
11 May 2013 – FC Dallas midfielder Jackson (#6) is surrounded by DC United defenders during the MLS game between FC Dallas and DC United at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas. FC Dallas won the game 2-1. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)

One Season Wonders

Heath Pearce – 2009 to 2010.  Signed by FCD late in 2009 after his attempted signing with Bursaspor in Turkey missed the deadline. Technically he was with FCD for 2 seasons but only played 6 games after that late ’09 signing so really… just 1 season. 34 games and 32 starts in total with 7 assists, 6 cautions a fair bit of it as a right back.  A 2010 MLS All-Star, Pearce was traded to Chivas USA for Allocation money in Feb 2011.  He retired with 35 US Caps. 

Pearce is currently the Chief Brand Officer for The Soccer Collective.

Heath Pearce, FC Dallas, during a game against DC United, May 8, 2010. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)

Hernan Grana – 2017.  Brought in by Fernando Clavijo and Oscar Pareja for the Concacaf Champions League push of 2017. But he was also as an older veteran and was part of the 2017 collapse.  A 2017 MLS All-Star, Grana made 30 starts with 1 goal, 4 assists, and 8 cautions in his one season in Dallas.

Grana is still playing with Ferro Carril Oeste in Argentina.

Hernan Grana of FC Dallas (#2) heads the ball against Arabe Unido during Concacaf Champions League play at Toyota Stadium, February 23, 2017. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)

Today I Learned

Mark Santel – 1996 to 2000. Today I learned that Mark Santel played some right back for the Burn. Take it away, Coach Dave Dir.

Mark Santel could be one of the best wingers we ever had in Dallas and played wide in the 3-5-2. But when we moved to a four back system he primarily played right back.

He had an incredible engine and deceptive pace that created so many issues for opponents. He was a quiet but surprisingly tough and aggressive defensively.

Dave Dir

Santel is currently the Business Manager for Belmont Partners.

Mark Santel, #7 in blue, 1997 MLS All-Star. (Courtesy MLS)

Up Next…

Holding midfielders.

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