As we continue to celebrate the 25th season of FC Dallas, we’re on to Part XVI of our Top 5 rankings.
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 XVI we’re talking about the best individual seasons in team history. Not seasons by the team, but by the singular player.
Special thanks for participating in this best season 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
Steve Davis – The Dean of Dallas soccer writers and current FCD color commentator
Dave Dir – The Burn’s 1st coach, former color commentator
Kevin Lindstrom – 3rd Degree writer since 2000
Again, we had a clear number one then a solid group of vote getters. Clearly, stats jump out in terms of seasons of excellence. Goals and assists get the glory. But there have been some noteworthy seasons by the defense as well.
Top 5 FC Dallas Seasons of All-Time
5. Kenny Cooper Jr – 2008
MLS Best XI, MLS Comeback Player of the Year, MLS All-Star, and 2-time MLS Player of the Week (18, 19). 18 goals (t-franchise record) and 3 assists. Cooper scored some amazing goals this year and carried the team offensively.
His 18 goals in 2008 were remarkable to watch, especially as it was a local Dallas boy tying the club record. I remember everything he touched going in.Dave Dir
4. Mauro Diaz – 2016
MLS Best XI and MLS All-Star. 5 goals (3 game-winners) and 13 assists (7 game-winners). Like all great playmakers, he was a marked man and was fouled 81 times. His US Open Cup impact was extraordinary and he brought FCD the only Double in club history.
What might have been had Diaz not crumbled to the turf late in the year, finished for the season, just before the playoffs? But by then he’d left his mark. Diaz was at his wizardly best in the U.S. Open Cup final, a night that remains THE best individual performance I’ve ever seen at Toyota Stadium.Steve Davis
3. Jeff Cunningham – 2009
MLS Golden Boot and MLS Best XI with 17 goals (7 game-winners) and 8 assists (3 game-winners). MLS Player of the Month for September and 4-time MLS Player of the Week (16, 20, 26, 30). Amazingly, Cunningham was only fouled 18 times, I guess they couldn’t catch him.
This is why defense matters. In 2009, Jeff Cunningham was the club’s second scoring champion. But saying that sort of downplays how truly unstoppable he was that season. He got 17 goals but got them in only 1918 minutes, an insane scoring average of 0.81 goals every 90 minutes. In addition, he assisted on eight other goals, meaning that he had a hand in half of FCD’s league-high 50 goals that season.Dustin Christmann
Sadly, since he did all this for a club that finished 7th in the West because only one team in MLS in 2009 gave up more than FCD’s 47 goals.
2. David Ferreira – 2010
MLS MVP, MLS Best XI, and MLS All-Star. 8 goals and 13 assists (5 game-winners). Ferreira was utterly dominant despite also being a marked man. He was fouled a staggering 84 times. He was the focus of the offense in a very defensive team.
David Ferreira led FC Dallas to the club’s first – and so far only – MLS Cup and was recognized for his work as MVP. A player different from all those who came before or after.Carlos Alvarado
1. Jason Kreis – 1999Embed from Getty Images
MLS MVP, MLS Best XI, MLS Golden Boot, MLS All-Star, and 6-time MLS Player of the Week (1, 5, 12, 17, 29, 20) with 18 goals (t-franchise record, 6 game-winners) and 15 assists (t-franchise record, 7 game-winners). First 15/15 season in MLS history and first American-born MVP. MLS Player of the Month for July.
Let’s face it, you knew this one was coming.
This is a no brainer for me. I have never seen a player have the kind of individual year Jason had in 99, and that is saying a lot.Dave Dir
He was the league’s first American-born MVP… and to date there have been just six of them over 24 previous seasons. This was a good young player at his very best, having settled into a new position – and scoring on the regular from that spot.Steve Davis
Kevin Hartman – 2010. MLS Player of the Month for August. An absolutely stunning 0.62 GAA by Hartman with 9 shutouts in only 20 games with just 12 total goals allowed. The 0.62 is the only GAA below 1.00 by a primary keeper in club history. His 78.9% save percentage is the best single-season in club history.
An absolutely sick season.Kevin Lindstrom
Matt Hedges – 2016. MLS Defender of the Year. The leader of one of the best defenses in MLS. As usual, a very clean season for Hedges with only 28 fouls committed, just barely over 1 per game (he played 26 games).
Embed from Getty Images
Everybody thinks about the 2016 season as the Mauro Díaz Show, and with good reason, but Matt was the only winner of a league individual award that season from Dallas – winning MLS Defender of the Year – and here’s why: Cap’n Matt played in 26 out of 34 league games that season. In those 26 games, FCD gave up 19 goals total. In the eight that he didn’t play, they gave up 21 goals.Dustin Christmann
Other Vote Getters
There have been many quality seasons in FC Dallas history and I hate to leave anyone out. These are all the players that got at least one vote from our committee.
Leonel Alvarez – 1996. MLS Best XI and MLS All-Star. He probably could have been MVP. MLS Player of the Week (19). 3 goals, 5 assists, 14 cautions, and 2 red cards. He taught the franchise how to be professional.
Alain Sutter – 1997. MLS All-Star and MLS Player of the Month for May. 2 goals and 8 assists in just 21 games. Stupid calamari.
Ariel Graziani – 2000. MLS All-Star and 2-time MLS Player of the Week (1, 16). 15 goals and 3 assists playing alongside Kreis.
Tesho Akindele – 2014. MLS Rookie of the Year and MLS Player of the Week (23). 7 goals and 3 assists by the runaway ROY winner.
Michael Barrios – 2019. Tied the franchise assist record with 15. Added 5 goals to boot. It’s amazing how little attention this recording tying season got.
Great seasons is a fun bit, so here are a few other great season I wrote down while I was researching.
Mark Dodd – 1996. MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and MLS Player of the Week (11). 160 saves, 6 shutouts, 160 saves, and a 1.46 GAA.
Mark Dodd – 1997. MLS Player of the Month for May. 183 saves, still the club record. 3 shutouts and a 1.60 GAA.
Ariel Graziani – 2001. MLS All-Star. 11 goals and 8 assists. 40 of his 83 shots were on goal, that’s pretty much 50%.
Oscar Pareja – 2002. MLS Best XI. 1 goal, 6 assists, 65 fouls committed, and 58 fouls suffered. The FCD engine.
Ronnie O’Brien – 2004. MLS Best XI, MLS All-Star, and MLS Player of the Week (22). 2 goals and 10 assists.
Carlos Ruiz – 2005. MLS All-Star, MLS Goal of the Decade (May 28, 2005, vs. D.C. United), and MLS Player of the Month for May. 11 goals and 2 assists.
Ronnie O’Brien – 2006. MLS All-Star. 1 goal and 11 assists.
Brek Shea – 2011. MLS Best XI and MLS All-Star. 11 goals (5 game-winners) and 4 assists, Shea was a legitimate MLS MVP candidate.
Fabian Castillo – 2015. MLS Best XI, MLS All-Star, and 2-time MLS Player of the Week (7, 9). 9 goals and 9 assists. His most dominant season.
Matt Hedges – 2015. MLS Best XI. Led FCD to a tie for 2nd best Goal Against (29) and a first-place finish while committing only 26 fouls.
FC Dallas Villains – Mmmmhhhhuuuaaaaaa!!!