Over time, we’ve come to find some noticeable differences between FC Dallas’ new coach Nico Estevez and his predecessors. A short bench, heavy workload management, reliance on soccer smarts, and successful fluid tactical shifting just to name a few.
One of the more interesting differences is how locked in the starting eleven is from week to week. Few of FCD’s positional battles see game-by-game changes in the grid.
In fact – now that Ema Twumasi seems to have mostly won the right back job – I would go so far as to say there are really only two positions left in a real back and forth: linking mid and holding mid.
Perhaps the tightest battle is at the 6.
So I thought it might be interesting to do a statistical breakdown of the two holding-mid candidates: Facundo Quignon and Edwin Cerrillo.
The Holding Mid
Out of spring training, Cerrillo won the starting job. Then we saw a period where it was Cerrillo at home and Quignon on the road before it settled into Quignon more of the time. Injuries and rotations still factor in though and Cerrillo continues to get minutes and spot starts.
Still, who should start at 6 is a hot topic on the socials. Which player should be the choice?
For the sake of discussion, let’s dig into the stats.
All the stats I’m using today are from fbref.com. I’m putting Cerrillo on the left on this page because of alphabetical order, that seemed fair. A lot of the stats are darn close with little differentiation.
|21||Games||19||Cerrillo is a key player…|
|10||Starts||13||Even if Quignon starts more.|
|1,101||Minutes||1,135||All but even in PT.|
|0||Goals||1||Goals don’t matter for a 6, right?|
|0||Assists||0||Both these guys need more assists. Or even 1 assist would be something.|
|2 (0)||Shots (on goal)||11 (3)||Facundo has taken some pokes from range.|
|0.1||xG||1.4||Quignon gets forward better…|
|0.5||xA||1.0||But I think these stats reflect that Quignon has been used as an 8 a couple of times.|
|1.62||Team PPG in games appeared||1.63||Which of them you pick has little apparent impact on team results as both play a lot even when not starting.|
The most important big picture takeaway is that they are all but even in minutes played. The two have all but split time. The minutes are so close we could do a fair stats discussion with their pure stats.
Still, stats per 90 minutes is better so I’m going with that most of the time.
Another key: when Cerrillo and Quignon have to play together it is Facu who takes on the 8-roll. You will see that reflected in his numbers like shots (above) and in some of the passes (below).
And to be fair, some of Facu’s better stats are why he gets picked to 8 over Edwin.
|692||Total Touches||856||Facu sees a lot more of the ball.|
|90.1%||Pass Pct||88.1%||Edwin keeps the ball better.|
|1.15||Own Passes Intercepted/90||1.19||Cerrillo gets intercepted less, but considering the attempts it actually leans Facu.|
|0.57||Own Passes Blocked/90||0.79||Ceriilo creates more space for himself?|
|0.25||Key Passes/90||0.63||Facundo is better at setting up players though.|
|2.95||Progressive passes/90||4.21||Also advancing the ball with a pass.|
|4.43||Passes into Final Third/90||3.65||Edwin passes more into the final third though.|
|0.25||Passes into the box/90||0.32||But Facu passes more into the box, hence the Key Passes.|
So Cerrillo as the better percentage passer (that holds up at any distance, by the way) helps team ball retention but Facu sets people up better for team goals.
My assumption is that this latter stat is based on Quignon’s greater pro experience. That and the few times he’s played as an 8 this year. But I do lean more to the former so perhaps we should say it’s why he plays as an 8 when they are both in the game.
|58.2||Toches/90||70.6||Rehashing that Facu sees more of the ball.|
|0.16||Dribbles/90||0.32||Quignon tries to dribble more or has to dribble more?|
|40%||Dribble Success Rate||40%||Same success rate.|
|42.0||Carries/90||44.4||Edwin actually carries more, particularly considering the disparity in touches.|
|93.0||Progression distance/90||74.2||Cerrillo also carries it farther upfield.|
|0.25||Dispossessed/90||0.87||E also turns it over less.|
|40.7||Pass Receptions/90||46.5||Facundo receives more outlets.|
|0.57||Progressive Receptions/90||0.79||And he does it in progressive positions.|
Quignon for sure puts himself in better positions to receive passes and outlets and the team plays more through him. Again, I read that as his experience showing, game reading, etc.
Cerrillo’s low dribbles I read as he moves away with his touch and progressive carries quicker to create space and thus has to dribble at players less. Edwin plays more conservatively with the ball and losses it less than Facu.
|1.97||Tackles/90||3.17||Facu tackles a lot more.|
|0.82||Dribbler Tackled/90||1.35||And he tackles more dribblers.|
|43.5%||Dribbler Tackle Win PCT||54.8%||And he tackles them better.|
|1.07||Dribblers Who Got Past/90||1.11||But Quignon has more dribbles get past him too.|
|14.4||Pressures/90||20.3||Facundo pressures more.|
|26.7||Pressure Win PCT||34.8||And is more successful at pressure.|
|1.31||Blocks/90||1.98||He also blocks more.|
|1.64||Intercepts/90||1.27||But Edwin cuts out more passes.|
|1.31||Clearances/90||2.06||Facu clears more.|
|8.69||Recoveries/90||11.1||And he picks up loose balls.|
|1.97||Fouls Committed/90||2.46||But Facundo also fouls more.|
|0.66||Fouls Suffered/90||0.87||And gets fouled more too.|
|5||Total Yellow Cards||5||Even. Though with Facu fouling more that’s in his favor.|
On the surface, Quignon is more active than Cerrillo and is the better pure defender and presser. He gets tight on attackers at a greater rate and fouls more.
But I am a firm believer in range. Cerrillo covers more ground than Facundo does. Cerrillo gets into better defensive positions, turns back play, and cuts out passes without tackling or pressuring as much. When he does foul it’s more reckless/physical and gets more yellows (by percentage)… that may or may not be a bad thing depending on how often he gets sent off or suspended.
Tackles and clearances are, in my book, more emergency defending. Quignon is certainly better for emergency scrambling in the box. The fact that Quignon not only has to tackle dribblers more and still allows more dribblers to get past him highlights the range issue.
This might come down to how you like your 6, preemptive or reactive.
Edwin Ceriilo and Facundo Quignon are pretty even in my book statistically. The differences aren’t massive, I don’t think.
For me, Cerrillo covers more ground and cuts out more play by his positioning. He also retains the ball better, helps keep possession, and can carry it forward.
Quignon is for sure the better pure defender and is better at providing an outlet, relieving pressure in the build, and better at the final key pass.
In other words, his best traits come from his experience. I would imagine it’s why at this point he’s getting picked to start by this coach who highly values soccer smarts.
You could say Cerrillo is better for Luchi-ball and Quignon for Nico-ball.
I have one last set of stats though.
Sure, Quignon is better, but is he $671,000 better Cerrillo? Not for me.
Quignon is at the flat part of his career trajectory and costs a lot more money. Cerrillo should continue to improve for 6 or 7 more years.
That’s my bottom line.
I would like to see both stay in the mix this year and probably next. I think you can make the case that Quignon is better for Coach Estevez this season. It’s certainly understandable why Facundo is picked more on the road.
But is this a Cup-winning season?
Not to beat a dead horse (you know I love to), but most of Quignon’s best qualities are ones that come from experience. Something Cerrillo will only gain by playing.
Quignon isn’t a top-of-the-league 6 and won’t ever be. Could Cerrillo be one? Maybe? I’m hopeful. But I don’t know for sure and I bet FC Dallas doesn’t know either. FCD needs to find out.
There is a lot Edwin can learn from Facu, which is why both should keep playing. But I believe Cerrillo has a long-term MLS future and Quignon does not. I think if Cerrillo makes strides and continues to progress he could be pretty dang good.
So for this season and maybe next, keep the mix of both players just with more Cerrillo starts.
But sooner or later it needs to be all Cerrillo… Or FCD will need to go get a new 6.
If you are curious about the title of this post… Cerrillo means hill in Spanish. The Qui-Gon one should be obvious.