As we continue to celebrate the 25th season of FC Dallas, we’re on to Part VIII 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 VIII we move to the right side of midfield… the 7s. Wide right midfielders and wingers.
Special thanks for participating in this right 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
Andy Swift – The KickAround, former Burn GM
Damian Wright – former 3rd Degree writer
At the right mid/wing position there were two players who are very clearly at the top and are separated from each other by the slightest of margins. Both were almost universally the top two choices and if not the top two were still unanimous choices for everyone.
Then we had two players who very clearly 3rd and 4th, in that order.
But after that came a pack of four players all basically tied for the 5th position. It was a smattering of multiple votes each and while I could nitpick the tallies to separate them – or just pick the one I voted for – I decided to list the entire pack at 5 to give each some love.
You will also see a lot of right mid/wing to right back conversation in the bottom portion of this Top 5.
Top 5 FC Dallas Right Mids or Wings of All-Time
The 4-Pack at 5.
Arturo Alvarez – 2005 to 2008.
A left-footed player, so you may be surprised to see him on the right mid/wing list. While Alvarez did sometimes play on the left he more often played on the right where he could take advantage by cutting inside and shooting. A terrific ball-handler who could beat almost any defender on the dribble.
Four seasons in Dallas with 86 games, 52 starts, 11 goals, and 11 assists. A super sub – he was really good in that role and pretty much made a 16-year pro career out of it – with FCD he was really only a full-time starter in 2007.
Drafted by San Jose, Alvarez came to Dallas along with Richard Mulrooney and two picks for Brad Davis and one pick – wow, what a trade – in 2005. He was traded back to SJ in mid-2008 for allocation money and went on to play for the Quakes, RSL, Pacos de Ferreira, Videoton, Chicago Fire, and the Houston Dynamo.
Funny side stat: Alvarez is tied for the FCD single-game record for fouls with 9. He committed then against DC United on May 28, 2005, in a 2-0 win. He must have been really frustrated that day or something.
While Arturo had some defensive deficiencies, when he was on the field there were few that added more danger to the attack. He had a gifted touch and a great ability to come inside and create havoc with a quick release or his ability to play a penetrating ball. Underrated as a server, he had the complete package as a winger.Dave Dir
Atiba Harris – 2009 to 2010 and 2015 to 2017
I talked about Harris in our Right Back Top 5 because he was an honorable mention there. He had 2 stints at FC Dallas, in the first one he was a striker/winger under Schellas Hyndman. Oscar Pareja converted Harris to right back in 2015. 41 games and 40 starts as a forward in 2009 and 2010 with 6 goals and 7 assists.
Harris was a very direct, pacey, vertical type winger and at the age of 35 Harris still plays for the OKC Energy.
Atiba Harris had those qualities that every coach looks for in a player and was very versatile. I saw him as a right defender and forward but I always liked him better as a midfielder.Carlos Alvarado
Jackson – 2010 to 2013
Jackson was originally signed as a defender – and he too made the Top 5 Right Backs Honorable Mention section – but he played more of his time in Dallas in the midfield, the bulk of it on the right side.
Jackson played 91 games for FC Dallas with 78 starts in four seasons. 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.
For the record, Jackson got my 5th place vote. I really liked him as a midfielder.
Now 31, Jackson was still playing with Fresno FC in the USL Championship last season.
Fast and skillful; could have been even higher on the list, but his head never quite seemed to be in the right place.Steve Davis
Bobby Rhine – 1999 to 2008
Rhine was #4 in our Right Back Top 5 list but appears here too as he got some votes at right mid/wing. Drafted in 1999, Rhine played as a striker, wing, and midfielder until 2004. In 2005 he was converted to right back.
From 1999 to 2004, Bobby scored 19 goals and notched 23 assists. He still ranks quite highly in many club records which you can read about in the right back ranking.
Another winger for me that maybe slips minds suffers when you think of the best because of his ability to play multiple roles over his career at the club. Just the sheer number of games and 30 goals put him in the top five for me and he had an unmatched work ethic and an engine to match that made him a fantastic player on the flank. Add to that his impact on the team in the locker room and impact in the community both as a quality human being, a quality leader and a promoter of the game and he could easily be the #1 in my book.Dave Dir
4. Marvin Chavez – 2009 to 2011
A pacey direct winger who loved to start deep and run past defenders, Chavez joined FCD on loan from Marathon part way through 2009. He became a bigger figure in 2010 and was a key part of the Cup run starting in the final against Colorado. Acquired permanently for 2011 he then had a really excellent season before he was traded by Hyndman to San Jose for Allocation money in December of that year.
54 games, 43 starts, 6 goals, and 6 assists over three seasons with FC Dallas.
After leaving Dallas, Chavez played for the Quakes, Rapids, Chivas USA, San Antonio Scorpions, Rayo OKC, and finished up with a return to Marathon in 2017. He also has 48 caps for Honduras including the 2014 World Cup.
Pure chaos. Speedy winger that would unbalance the defense with every touch. Unfortunately, his chaotic style at times would unbalance the offense too as they were never quite sure what he was going to do.Chamo Jones
3. Mark Santel – 1996 to 2000Embed from Getty Images
One of the Dallas Burn’s original Allocation Players so you know he was highly thought of before MLS even started.
Pre-MLS, Santel was one of Dave Dir’s A-League Championship players from the Colorado Foxes. Santel came out of former US Soccer hotbed of St Louis and played in college for the Billikens where he was a 3-time All-American.
Santel played a little center back, sweeper, and even wing back, but he’s mostly known as a wide midfielder. He could even play on the left when needed. A prototypical get to the end and cross wide mid, Santel was named an MLS All-Star in 1996 and 1997.
After the 2000 season, Santel was traded to the Kansas City Wizards where he played one season before retiring. He left Dallas with 133 games, 114 starts, with 5 goals and 22 assists. Santel is still is tied for 8th in franchise history in Game-Winning assists with 8. Add in 1 goal and 5 assists in 15 playoff games for the Burn.
A former US U20 – he played in the 1987 Youth World Cup in Chile – Santel has 13 caps with the USMNT.
Santel is currently the Business Manager for Belmont Partners in St Louis.
Mark Santel was one of the best American wingers to ever play the game in this country from the early 90s until he retired in 2001. His versatility and quiet personality hurt his notoriety during his MLS career when he often changed roles. He had excellent pace, even better acceleration, and the ability to blow by players that made them look like they were standing still. When defenders adjusted, he had that unique ability to cut the ball back that I have rarely seen – maybe second only to Preki in the early days of the league.Dave Dir
2. Ronnie O’Brien – 2002 to 2006
O’Brien started his career at Middlesbrough before joining Italian giants Juventus. While at Juve he went on loan to AC Lugano, Crotone, Lecco, and Dundee United before being sold to FC Dallas part way through 2002.
A pure conventional wide mid and the best pure crosser in team history, O’Brien could score from range, loved to run at defenders, and could switch the ball on a dime.
After a great start in 2002, O’Brien, unfortunately, had his leg broken by Dema Kovalenko in just the third game of the 2003 season. While Ronnie, being a good dude, forgave Kovalenko, FC Dallas fans never have. When the same player breaks the leg of two different players in your team – that has to be an MLS record, by the way – fans tend to hold a grudge. Thankfully, O’Brien made a full recovery and went on to have a sublime career in Dallas.
2-time MLS Best XI (2004, 2004), 3-time MLS All-Star (2004, 2005, 2006), and 2005 FCD MVP. 101 games, 90 starts, 12 goals, and 35 assists. The 35 assists are 6th all-time in franchise history and Ronnie ranks 6th in Game-Winning Assists (9), 8th in Corners (119), 3rd in Assists per 90 (0.38), and 2nd in Assists per Game (0.35)
After a knee injury limited him in 2007, O’Brien was traded to Toronto FC prior to the 2008 season for their first round pick. O’Brien spent one season in Toronto and one season in San Jose then retired.
O’Brien won the 1998 Under-16 European Championship with the Republic of Ireland but was never capped by their senior team. He was called up one time during a US tour but declined the invitation.
Undoubtedly the best golfer in FCD history – O’Brien was a scratch golfer even in his playing days – Ronnie complete his PGA coaching license after retiring from soccer and is now the Director of Golf at TPC Craig Ranch.
Not many clubs in this world can boast a former Man of the Century and former Juventus player on their roster. But the Burn and FCD had both of those things in O’Brien. He was everything that you’d want in a winger: terrific skill with the ball, great crosses, and solid defending. He was possibly the best playmaker during his time with the club and when Dema Kovalenko broke his leg in the third game of the 2003 season it turned what was shaping up to be a not-very-good season in the all-time worst season in club history.Dustin Christmann
1. Michael Barrios – 2015 to Current
Los Toros current rampaging right wing and devastating speed threat. Barrios arrived in Dallas from his hometown club Uniautónoma in 2015 after scoring 35 goals in 136 games for UAC.
FCD’s 2017 MVP, Barrios has never quite broken in the national consciousness despite his amazing play here. In 2019 he tied the FC Dallas single-season assist record with 15 (Jason Kreis 1999 MLS MVP season). He’s also led FCD in game-winning assists every year since 2017.
At the age of 28 he already ranks in in multiple FCD all-time stat categories.
Games: 160 – 6th
Starts: 139 – T-8th
Minutes: 12,211 – 9th
Goals: 30 – 7th
Assists: 39 – 4th
Shots: 262 – 5th
Shots on Goal: 111 – 4th
Corners: 211 – 4th
Game-Winning Assists: 11 – 5th
Multi-Goal Games: 4 – 8th
Assists per Game: 0.25 – 7th
Assists per 90: 0.29 – 6th
Who knows how high the stats could pile up?
Barrios is turning into a club legend before our eyes. Initially, just a helper for Fabian Castillo to keep teams honest, it is he who has become the most dangerous offensive player in recent years.Damian Wright
When I look for examples of how you don’t need to be a big person to be great in soccer, Mikey is the first person that comes to mind. But since I don’t want to seem like a complete homer, I always go with that Messi guy or that Maradona guy.Dustin Christmann
No honorable mentions because of the 4-way tie for 5th.
One Season Wonder
Mauro Rosales – 2016. Rosales was a playmaker, attacking mid, and 10 for most of his career. Traded to Dallas prior to 2016 for Blas Peres. Rosales was a big part of the 2016 Double-Winning season playing mostly as a false wing on the right coming on as a late game sub. He would often tuck inside giving FCD a double 10 look next to Mauro Diaz.
23 games, 4 starts, 2 goals, and 3 assists in the 2106 regular season. The high-water mark might be his start and 58 minutes in the US Open Cup Final against the Revolution.
Rosales was SO important to the team’s historic “double” in ’16. And even though he often played nominally as an outside MF, he was really more of a playmaking winger who tilted inside regularly. When he wasn’t playing the 10 in place of Diaz, the team could have two “10s” on the field.Steve Davis
Left midfielders and wings. The 11s.