FC Dallas 25th season top 5 all-time rankings – utility players

As we continue to celebrate the 25th season of FC Dallas, we’re on to Part XIV 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 XIV we cover all our bases with Utility Players. I mean this is the baseball sense of players who can play several positions competitively.  Think Craig Biggio, an MLB All-Star at both catcher and 2nd base.  Players versatile enough to start and perhaps even excel in multiple positions.

Special thanks for participating in this utility player ranking: 
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
Chamo Jones – former 3rd Degree writer
Kevin Lindstrom – 3rd Degree writer since 2000
Andy Swift – The KickAround, former Burn GM

The top 3 clearly separated themselves in the voting for utility players and even though it was a tight race there was a very clear order among them.

Then there was a scattering of votes among many players.  Places 4 and 5 came in with just a few more votes than some of the others. 

Top 5 FC Dallas Utility Players of All-Time

5. Atiba Harris – 2009 to 2010 and 2015 to 2017

Atiba Harris, 2016. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

It’s no surprise that the players making this list have appeared before on our rankings, usually multiple times, that’s the very definition of a utility player.  Harris fits that bill having been named an Honorable Mention in our Right Back Top 5 and coming in for a tie at 5th in our right wing/mid ranking.

Harris was in Dallas twice, the first time as a striker/forward/winger in 2009 and 2010 and then as a right back form 2015 to 2017.  Since leaving FCD he’s played for OKC energy as a center back. 

41 games, 40 of them starts, as a forward/wing in 2009 and 2010 with 6 goals and 7 assists. 84 games and 63 starts with 5 goals from the right back position between 2015 and 2017.

A midfielder by trade, but SO many club supporters still forget the guy started at striker  — striker! — in the biggest game this franchise has ever played, the 2010 MLS Cup final. Later, he was a useful right back under Oscar Pareja. 

Steve Davis

4. Richard Farrer – 1996 to 2002

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Farrer only made one of our rankings, Top 10 Center Backs, but in the early years of the franchise when rosters were very thin, he was invaluable due to his soccer smarts and versatility.  Farrer was a 12th round pick in the Inaugural Player Draft in 1996 after a few years in the USISL prior to the MLS launch.

Farrer went on to play 158 regular-season games (8th in franchise history) with 141 starts (5th franchise history) – plus 17/11 playoff games/starts – in his 7 year MLS career.

During his time with the Burn Farrer played left wing back, right wing back, left mid, right mid, forward, holding mid, left/center/right center back, and sweeper.

Hands down, the guy who was the ultimate utility player this franchise ever had. He is the epitome of the term and no one else comes close. 

Kevin Lindstrom

3. Bobby Rhine – 1999 to 2008

Bobby Rhine (left) and Drew Moor pose after winning the inter-team competition during FC Dallas’ 2006 spring training camp in England.

The first of the top 3 that separated themselves in this list, Rhine has been all over these rankings. 5th Off-Striker, 5th at Right Wing/Mid, and 4th at Right Back.  He’s still in the Top 10 of the important all-time FCD stat categories (you can read the list in his right back rank).

Bobby was drafted by FC Dallas as a striker and played there from 1999 to 2004 scoring 19 goals and notching 23 assists.

In 2005, Rhine was converted 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. 

Bobby played the wing up top and as a right back. He will go down as one of the most versatile players in Dallas history. What he lacked in any position he made for with soccer intelligence, heart, and work ethic. 

Dave Dir

2. Jorge “Zarco” Rodriguez – 1997 to 2002

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Jorge Humberto Rodríguez. The Burn’s 1998 MVP, 3-time Defender of the Year (1998, 2000, 2001), team captain, and the usual PK taker during his time with the club. “Zarco” played all over the place for Coach Dave Dir.  He too landed in our Top 5 ranks in multiple positions: 8th at Center Back and 5th at Right Back.

Like Farrer already on this list, Zarco played left, right, and holding mid; left, middle, and right center-back (3-5-2); left and right wingback; and sweeper… and he did it at an All-star caliber level.

He still ranks in the Top 10 on the FCD career stats sheet with 25 goals (10th), 155 games (9th), 12,972 minutes (4th), 140 starts (7th), 9 game-winning goals (t-6th), 181 fouls (9th), and 22 yellow cards (t-8th).   He’s also a member of the 3rd Degree All-Time Best XI from 2017.

Zarco is one of the most underrated players in the history of the club. Aside from providing the club with incredible positional versatility during his five seasons with the team, he was known for his cool, calm tenacity, and silky touch. He received the team Defender of the Year honor three times, each one while playing a different position – outside back, sweeper, and holding mid.

Despite being a defender, he scored three of the most famous goals in Burn history – the winning PK in the ’97 US Open Cup final, the tying goal in the epic comeback in the ’99 playoffs vs the Fire, and the winning goal as time expired in another amazing Brimstone comeback in 1998. He was such an integral part of the team from 1997 through 2001 – both on and off the field – that it’s surprising he’s not more widely recognized by the team and the fan base alike as one of the more important players in the history of the club. 

Andy Swift

1. Ryan Hollingshead – 2014 to current

Ryan Hollingshead crosses the ball against Philadelphia Union, February 29, 2020. (Craig Marcho, 3rd Degree)

Who else was going to top this category but the man who has literally played every position on the field for FC Dallas including goalkeeper? His most prominent positions are left back (3rd in our Top 5) and left wing (Honorable Mention). 

Hollingshead is capable of starting at every position on the field for Dallas.  In one of last year’s depth charts, I listed him at every position in a somewhat humorous but totally legitimate way.

He’s currently sitting on 145 games played for FC Dallas and should finish his career in the Top 10 in many FCD All-Time ranks.

Has literally played all over the field in the last couple of years. Yep, even goalkeeper. Originally drafted as an attacking player, his move to left back now looks like a stroke of absolute genius; he was among the best, if not THE best, left back in MLS in 2019. 

Steve Davis

Honorable Mention

Mark Santel – 1996 to 2000. Santel came in at number 3 in our Top 5 Right Mids/Wings but he also received voted at right back and left wing/mid.   While most of his career came as a right midfielder where he remains one of the best crossers in club history. 

Santel also played both right back, right wing back and center back as a starter, Plus could swap to or spot start at left mid, left back, and left wing back as demonstrated in this week’s FCD re-air of the 1999 playoff game against Chicago where he played three of those position in one game.

Santel played center back, right back, and right wing as a starter in his time with the Burn. One of the best wingers I have seen in MLS, he was also outstanding as an undersized center back when we suffered an unusual string of injuries to our backline. Bora Milutinović was the first to try him at right back for the national team and it worked so well I used him there as well.

Dave Dir
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Jackson – 2010 to 2013. Signed initially by Dallas to be a right back, Jackson did play there some earning an Honorable Mention in our top 5. But he played quite a bit more at right mid where he tied for 5th in our ranking. Jackson was even spotted playing centrally or left in midfield from time to time.

In total, 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.

Jackson (6) jumps over a Portland Timbers defender in a match at Toyota Stadium, June 25, 2011. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)

What’s Next?

Taem Seasons – What was the best single season in club history?

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