As we continue to celebrate the 25th season of FC Dallas, we’re on to Part XIII 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 XIII we stay on the bench with impactful subs. Guys who made a difference coming into games.
Special thanks for participating in this subs ranking, particularly given the holiday weekend:
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
Chamo Jones – former 3rd Degree writer
Kevin Lindstrom – 3rd Degree writer since 2000
Damian Wright – former 3rd Degree writer
It being Memorial Day Weekend – and perhaps due to the need to dig into the stats a little more – we unsurprisingly had the most dropouts in our panel.
This Impactful Subs ranking also saw the most variance in voting, probably because of peoples’ personal definitions of impactful. This was also the tightest spread too, as there were so many candidates. The separation from no. 1 through the honorable mentioned was really tight.
Still, a set of names emerged from the voting and we have a ranking even if our overall winner only got one first place vote.
Top 5 FC Dallas Impactful Subs of All-Time
5. Bobby Rhine – 1999 to 2008
The first portion of bobby’s career – from 1999 to 2004 – Rhine was a striker or wide mid making Top 5 in both positions. During this period he was a bench threat as much as he started. From 2005 on, Rhine made only 14 sub appearances compared to 70 starts.
Early in his career, Rhine was a super-sub playing and making an impact in the front or on the wing before Colin moved him to right back. His tireless work ethic and competitive fire made him instant energy off the bench.Dave Dir
4. Jeff Cunningham – 2008 to 2010
I was surprised to find Cunningham getting enough votes to crack the sub list because most of his run in Dallas was as the starting 9. But in 2010 – when FC Dallas made it’s only run to the MLS Cup – Cunningham became a super-sub as the season went on. That season he made only 13 starts, mostly early in the year, but came off the bench 14 times and still led FCD in scoring in one of the club’s best-ever seasons.
One of the league’s leading scorers of all-time, with blazing speed, is coming off the bench and running at your tired defense in 2010. Good luck!Kevin Lindstrom
3. Dominic Oduro – 2006 to 2008
Blazing fast is perhaps a little understating it. Dom was Fabian Castillo before Fabian Castillo, playing on the high wing and tearing apart defenses. If the man could have finished he would have been worth 20 million. He was an Honorable Mention in our Off-Striker rankings.
The recipe for Dom Oduro’s effectiveness with FCD was pretty simple: Take a young player, give him more speed than just about every other player in the league, and turn him loose as a second half sub against tired defenses.Dustin Christmann
2. Abe Thompson – 2005 to 2008
Drafted 16th overall in 2005 by Dallas, Thompson was a quality squad member in the Colin Clarke era. A solid athlete without any amazing skills or talent, Thompson was a very intelligent player and game-reader who was always in the right place resulting in clean goals and a fair number of assists. Thompson really showed the value of a quality soccer brain.
Thompson was traded to Kansas City for Allocation money in 2009. He played two season there before being traded to the Houston Dynamo for Kai Kamara. Thompson finished his career playing for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers from 2010 to 2012.
I haven’t crunched the numbers yet, but I’m pretty sure that you only looked at MLS games from the mid-2000s after the 75th minute, Abe Thompson would’ve been the league leader in scoring. That might be an exaggeration, but the guy had a habit of coming off the bench and knocking in a late goal.Dustin Christmann
1. Tesho Akindele – 2014 to 2018
We talked about him a bunch when he landed at #4 in our Off-Striker Top 5. Oscar Pareja’s 2014 draft pick was pretty much always in the gaffer’s 18 during his time in Dallas. Capable of the big, game-changing goal off the bench. 2014 MLS Rookie of the Year, the only ROY in FC Dallas history.
His career to this point is probably defined by his effectiveness off the bench, he won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2014 and maintained that level of danger while in Dallas.Kevin Lindstrom
Antonio Martinez – 2000 to 2003. “Chivas,” as he was known, came in at number 4 in our Top 5 Left Mids/Wings and was a significant contributor in the Dave Dir era. But he did some quality work off the bench almost as often as he started. Quick, nifty with the ball, and a quality passer, Martinez’s numbers show his quality.
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His rookie season consisted mostly of being that catalyst off the bench. He would unbalance defenses with his pace on the wing.Chamo Jones
Arturo Alvarez – 2005 to 2008. While with FC Dallas, Alvarez made 52 starts and 34 sub appearances with 11 goals and 11 assists combined. That ratio continued through his entire MLS career with 148 starts and 107 sub appearances. His ability to contribute as both a starter and a strong bench player helped him to a 12 years MLS career with a 5-year stint in Europe in the middle.
I remember Alvarez as instant-offense off the bench and being a real difference-maker at the end of games. While he didn’t defend much he could break down teams with an unbelievable change of pace and great technical skill.Dave Dir
Eric Avila – 2008 to 2011. The ultimate late game attacking midfield sub during Coach Schellas Hyndman’s tenure. The stats alone show how much Hyndman relied on Avila as a replace-a-defensive-minded-mid-with-an-attacking-mid sub.
Avila continued to be a super-Sub with Toronto FC (2011-2012) and Orlando City (2015) but was a full-time starter at Chivas USA (2013-2014). He’s continued his pro career in the USL with Tampa Bay Rowdies, Phoenix Rising, Las Vegas Lights, Birmingham Legion, and currently plays for new expansion side San Diego Loyal.
Avila makes the list on the basis of scoring the game-winning goal against Real Salt Lake in the dying minutes of game 1 of the playoffs setting up the team for the run to MLS Cup in 2010.Chamo Jones
Walker Zimmerman – 2013 to 2017. Zimmerman gets a shout out as he was the only outright pure defender to get a vote on this list. His inclusion is less about the number of subs as much as specific moments of sub greatness in his earlier years. Particularly 2015 when he made 10 starts and 10 sub appearances.
Zimmerman started earning Oscar Pareja’s trust by coming late in games as an extra defender in the 2015 season. He scored the epic header that sent the Seattle series to penalties and sealed the deal by rocketing the final penalty kick past Frei to win the series.Chamo Jones
Utility Players – a celebration of versatility.