Fun Facts and Stories from FC Dallas’ Jersey Number History

With the move to the new site, one of the things I’ve been doing of late is restoring and updating some features we used to have prior to partnering with bigger media companies. One of those things is the FC Dallas All-Time Numeric Roster.

Being a number matter guy, I dug down a little bit and came up with some facts and stories about FC Dallas’ numbers I thought our audience might find interesting.

Facts and Figures

The number worn by the most different players?

The no. 22.  Fifteen different players have worn “The Lalas,” although maybe we should start calling it “The Pulisic.”  The 22 is often a backup keeper for FCD – Josh Lambo wore it for 4 seasons, the longest stint of any wearer – several of them for one season or even less.

The runner up?  The no. 11 with fourteen different players. This is surprising because the 11 is a fantastic number, particularly for an attacking winger on the left side. Fabian Castillo’s three seasons in the 11 is the longest stint.

The standard roster number (1-30) worn by the fewest different players?

This one should come as no surprise, it’s the no. 19 with only seven players.  Bobby Rhine is an FC Dallas legend and wore 19 a long time. After his passing, the number was unofficially retired from 2011 to 2016.

Bobby Rhine
Bobby Rhine warms up before facing Chivas USA on July 4, 2007. (Jason Gulledge, 3rd Degree)

Runner up?  The no. 8. It’s been worn by only eight players. It’s a highly desired number and quality midfielders wear it, usually for long stretches. Oscar Pareja wore the 8 for seven seasons, just as one example.

Side note: only standard numbers 1 to 30 were considered for this because above 30 you get stupid numbers that were worn by only one person and that’s not really an interesting answer.

The player who wore the most different numbers? 

Ramon Nunez wore four different numbers while playing for FC Dallas.  The 9, 10, 11, and 21. Ramon always wanted the no. 10 but it was usually taken. He was initially assigned no. 21 in 2004, shifted to the 11 when it became available in 2005, then shifted again to the 10 in 2006.  After leaving FCD for a few seasons, Nunez returned and wore the no. 9 in 2013.

Longest tenure in one number?

Bobby Rhine. Bobby wore the no. 19 for ten seasons at FC Dallas.  That’s an impressive stretch. #BR19.

Runner up? Another FC Dallas legend, Matt Hedges who has worn the no. 24 for eight seasons now and has the potential to break Rhine’s seasons-in-one-jersey-number record.

24 Matt Hedges MLS All-Star
24 Matt Hedges goes up for a header in the MLS All-Star game, July 31, 2019. (MLS Communications)

The number most often worn for just one season?  

The no. 24.  Which is amazing when you consider that Matt Hedges has worn it for 8 years now. Eleven of the thirteen players who have worn 24 only played one season in that number.  The only other player to wear 24 for more than one season? Eric Alexander, who wore it for a season and a half. 

Imagine how many players might have cycled through the no. 24 if Hedges hadn’t put it on lockdown. It would have crushed the 22 probably.

The number worn for the least amount of single-seasons?

The no. 8 has been worn zero times for just one season. You might have guessed that based on it being the number worn by the second-fewest number of players. Like I said, big-time number, big-time players.

Oscar Pareja (#8) celebrates with Bobby Rhine in Pareja’s final game for FC Dallas.

The “stupid” number (35+) worn by the most players? 

The no. 44, which, surprisingly, has been worn by three players: Dario Sala, Jesse Gonzalez, and Abel Aguilar.

Runner up? I can’t believe this is true… The no. 91, which has been worn by two players. More on that in a bit.

Factoids

The no. 26 was once worn by 6 players in one season.

In 2001, FC Dallas, due to injuries, had to use the MLS pool goalkeepers as their backup on the bench. Over the course of that season, the club used eight different pool keepers and six of them were assigned the no. 26 that year. Here’s the list: Cole Burgman, Jon Busch, Matt Napoleon, Adam Throop, Dan Popik, and Eric Pogue.  The two others wore 22.

Players whose name is the same length as their number?

This was kind of fun and I’m sure I missed someone. (Suggested by Dan Crooke)

Last Name Only
2- [Alex] Yi
5- [Lubos] Kubik
6 – [Ronnie] O’Brien, [Adam] Moffat, and [Steve] Morrow
7 – [Eddie] Johnson
9 – Getterson
10 – Richardinho, [Dante] Washington

Full name
8 – Juan Toja
9 – Blas Perez
10 – Ramon Nunez
11 – Oscar Pareja
12 – Victor Sikora
13 – Tesho Akindele and Maykel Galindo

Unofficial FCD jersey rules

There aren’t a whole lot, but there are a couple of trends we’ve noticed over the years.

1. Veteran and high paid senior roster players are allowed to ask for important low numbers. 

Since Bobby Hammond took over and continuing since he departed in 2012, FC Dallas has done a pretty good job of following roster number conventions.  Although there have been a few nutty ones of late that I think Hammond wouldn’t have allowed. You can read all about the jersey number conventions here: Why Soccer Numbers Mater.

2. Supplemental roster players are assigned/allowed to pick numbers in the 20s and 30s usually in the order they were drafted or signed.

3. No. 30 is exclusively a backup keeper number only, usually the 3rd keeper in fact, and 22 frequently is for keepers as well.

Jersey Number Stories

Andres Escobar wore the year of birth, no. 91 in 2014.

So far he’s the only player in franchise history to wear the two-digit year of their birth as a jersey number. That’s a feat not likely to be matched.

Unless you count Tex Hooper’s 96.

Andres Escobar 91
Andres Escobar wore #91 for FC Dallas in 2014. He celebrates with Michel 31 as Zach Loyd 17 walks away. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)

Sutter and 66

Alain Sutter, upon joining the Dallas Burn as a designated player in 1997, chose the no. 66 as an homage to Route 66, the Great American Highway.

Goodson and 11

Clarence Goodson was a forward growing up and only converted to center back in college. When he joined FC Dallas he wore no. 20 as a rookie but moved to the no. 26 to accommodate Carlos Ruiz joining the club. But Goodson always wanted the no. 11 as it was his number growing up as a striker. So one season later, the no. 11 came open and Goodson jumped at the chance to take it.  

Ruiz and 29

When Carlos Ruiz rejoined FC Dallas for the second time in 2016 he took the no. 29 because no. 20 was being worn by Juan Esteban Ortiz.

Carlos Ruiz 29
Carlos Ruiz wore the no. 29 when he returned to FC Dallas in 2016 as Juan Esteban Ortiz was wearing the 20. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)

Simo Valakari and 14/17

In 2004 when Simo Valakari joined FC Dallas the club wanted to give him the 14. The coaching staff and front office recognized the importance of the number even then. I sat down with Valakari when he came into their Euro camp that spring, Valakari raised the topic of the 14 and how honored he was the club wanted him to wear it.

Unfortunately, at the time, the soon to be cut Gavin Glinton was wearing #14.  FCD wasn’t able to reach an injury settlement to clear Glinton off the roster by the time Valakari was added. So FCD was forced to give Valakari a different number and he ended up with 17 instead.

Dom Badji and 14

Badji switched to the no. 14 in 2019, cutting a deal with Jimmy Maurer to do so. “My favorite player, Thierry Henry, was number 14. So growing up, I always wanted that,” Badji said

Chris Gbandi and 4

Gbandi switched from number 2 to number 4 in 2004. Gbandi wore 4 in college when he won the Hermann Trophy. The no. 4 is better for a left back than 2 anyway.

Ty Maurin and 23

Maurin asked for the 23 because of David Beckham. He’s the only player I know for sure did so because I asked him.

Justin Moore and 24

Moore wanted the 23 because of Beckham, but Blake Wagner was wearing the no. 23 so Moore had to take the 24 instead.

Thomas Roberts and 23

While I’m sure he would choose the 10 if he could, being a supplemental roster player he’s not getting that one. So when Thomas Roberts was assigned a number he asked for the 23 because of Michael Jordan.

Which, by the way, is the same reason David Beckham wore it.

Victor Ulloa and 8

Vic swapped to the 8 in 2015 because of his love and admiration for Oscar Pareja. And because it’s a great number, I’m sure.

Maxi Urruti and 37

37 was Urruti’s squad number at Newell’s Old Boys and he’s worn it for all but one season of his career.

Maxi Urruti's #37
Maxi Urruti’s #37

Dario Sala and 48/44

When Dario Sala joined FC Dallas he and Jeff Cassar both asked for the no. 1 jersey after Scott Garlick retired. Colin Clark decided that rather than picking someone for the 1 he would let neither have it until one of them won the job outright.

Sala stayed with his higher 48 and then 44 even when Cassar was gone.

Ricardo Iribarren cursed the no. 10

Iribarren once wore the no. 10 for the Dallas Burn in 2000 as a marking back and cursed the number for the franchise for years.  David Ferreira finally broke the curse in 2009.

Prior to this no. 10 incident, Burn numbers were handed out by equipment manager Kevin Harter. Giving the 10 to a marking back was such a soccer karma error that Team Administrator Bobby Hammond took over giving out numbers so garbage that like wouldn’t happen again. Hammond was in charge of numbers from then until he left FC Dallas after the 2012 season.

Zach Loyd and 19

Upon being drafted by FC Dallas, Zach Loyd took the no. 19 and wore it for two seasons. But upon the passing of Bobby Rhine in September 2011, Loyd being the kind of man he is, asked to make a special gesture. Loyd, with the assistance of Bobby Hammond, got special permission from MLS and Concacaf to switch to the no. 91 for one game. Loyd wore the no. 91 on Sept. 10, 2011, at the New England Revolution.

Loyd then wore no. 12 for the rest of 2011 and no. 17 for the rest of his career.

Paxton Pomykal 19

By now, I’m sure you all know the story behind Pomykal asking permission to wear Bobby Rhine’s no. 19.  Bobby’s wife Bevan graciously gave permission and Pomykal has well represented the no. 19 since.

Buzz note: On a personal level, I applaud this move by the club. Soccer numbers shouldn’t be retired. The tradition of the game is that they should be worn and honored by the players to come.  For example, here’s Jason Kreis asking for Real Salt Lake to un-retire his no. 9 jersey.

Ted Eck number jumping

Ted Eck wore 14 for a large part of his career prior to the launch of MLS. But in 1996 Leonel Alvarez, being a designated player, wore the 14, his own preferred number he wore with Colombia, so Eck took the no. 12.

When Alvarez departed, Eck switched to his first choice 14. And then when Alvarez returned, Eck out of respect and admiration for Alvarez, switched to no. 41.  Then after Alvarez was traded to the New England Revolution, Eck again changed back to the 14.

Washington Rodriguez and 10

Back in 1996, Washington Rodriguez also wanted the no. 14. But Alvarez being a massive international superstar got dibs on 14.  They offered Rodriguez the 10 instead and he was mad he had to “settle” for the 10.  Can you imagine? Being annoyed to have to take the 10?  

Kenny Cooper and 33

When Cooper came to FC Dallas in 2006 he asked for the no. 3 but it had been given to Greg Vanney.  So instead Cooper took 33. Cooper wanted the 3 because a friend of his dad that coached Kenny Jr wore 3. Cooper Jr. wore 3 a lot in his life because of this mentor. 

Cooper got to wear the 9 with the US National Team on occasion, that’s the kind of number he should have had in Dallas.

Cooper 33
Kenny Cooper, wearing the #33, celebrates with Jackson.

Blas Perez and 7

Perez started at FC Dallas wearing the no 9, a perfect number for the kind of striker he is. But Perez usually wears no 7 to honor his father. However, in 2012, Fabian Castillo was wearing the 7 so Perez took the 9.  Castillo swapped to the 11 in 2013 – an even more valid number for him as a left wing, not that 7 is bad as the usual right wing – so Perez was able to swap to 7.

Mauro Rosales and 77

This one is fairly obvious.  Rosales most frequently wore no. 7 in his career, including at Montreal Impact. But when he came to FC Dallas, Carlos Gruezo was wearing the 7 so Rosales took the 77 – aka the double 7.

Jeff Cunningham and the 9

This isn’t so much about why he wore 9 but rather a story about when he was given it. 

When FCD traded for Cunningham, Bobby Hammond offered him the 9-jersey as they had held it open for him.  Cunningham was a bit thrown by the offer, saying there was a lot of weight and responsibility that came with it. After thinking about it, Cunningham did take on the number, doing some great things in the 9 at FCD, like winning the MLS Golden Boot in 2009.

North Texas Soccer Club Unofficial Jersey Rules

Throwing in a bonus here. Over the course of 2019, we noticed some general rules for jersey numbers with North Texas SC.

1. The players signed to pro contracts with North Texas SC picked first and took the low, coveted numbers.
     Examples: Arturo Rodriguez – 10, David Rodriguez – 8, Ricardo Pepi – 9

2. Players coming down from MLS usually kept their same number unless it was taken.
     Examples: Thomas Roberts – 23, Bryan Reynolds – 29, Jacori Hayes – 15

3. Academy players mostly took high numbers above 36.
    Examples: Tanner Tessmann – 45, Kevin Bonilla – 37, Johan Gomez – 44

What Did I Miss?

Know any good FC Dallas jersey number stories? See anything in the number lists interesting I missed? Hit us up with a comment below.

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