The most expensive goals in FCD history – part 1: 2007

Over the past decade, through many different designated players, I’ve always been interested in how efficiently, or inefficiently, FC Dallas has been at paying players to score goals. I know I’m not the only one, considering just how many Tweets and Reddit comments I’ve seen bemoaning the lack of a “true DP number-9”, and complaining about some high-profile ‘busts’.

Since the 2007 season and the advent of the Designated Player Rule, the MLS Players Association has released annual salary reports for every single player in the league, offering us the chance to get an exact answer to this very unusual question:

Just how much does FC Dallas pay for goals?

We’ll begin with the 2007 season, wherein FC Dallas made a splash by signing Brazilian international Denílson de Oliveira Araújo, better known as just Denilson, after several notable appearances in La Liga and for the Brazilian national team.

GM Michael Hitchcock, Denilson, and Head Coach Steve Morrow during the FC Dallas press conference to announce the signing of Brazilian World Cup winner Denilson as the team’s Designated Player on Aug. 27, 2007, in Frisco, Texas. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

Denilson became the highest-paid player in team history, with a guaranteed compensation of $879,936, a total that wasn’t surpassed until 2012 and the midsummer acquisition of Julian de Guzman from Toronto. Denilson was inevitably going to be viewed critically due to his high-profile, high-cost acquisition, and the expectation was for him to work well together with star forward Carlos Ruiz.

To put it lightly, that didn’t happen, and in 8 games for the Hoops, Denilson logged just 1 goal, off a penalty kick. That means the Hunts paid nearly a million dollars for a single PK goal, making it easily the most expensive goal in team history, to this day occupying the top slot.

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Except, no, it’s not. This is a John Lenard article. If this were a question we could solve in 2 paragraphs there’d be no point writing all of this. Let’s get some perspective for just how big of a flop Denilson was by putting his goal in context with some of the other big names and top scorers from that season.

2007 was a bit of a down year for the team, scoring just 37 goals in total across 30 games, the 3rd worst offensive total in team history. Following the 2006 season where the team sat atop the Western Conference, 2007 is noteworthy for the team sneaking into the playoffs as a wild card in a weak Western Conference, and for making it to the final of the Open Cup, losing to New England 3-2 in the final.

Carlos Ruiz kept his position among the highest-paid players on the roster, earning $435,000 guaranteed, and yet regressed badly, scoring just 7 goals and 2 assists. Yet even with a career-worst season for Ruiz, he still led the team in scoring. That left Carlos on $62,142.86 per goal during the season. Second place on the team’s scoring chart was Juan Toja, putting up 6 goals in a breakout rookie season that led to a transfer to Romania’s Steaua București the following summer. Toja was comparatively a bargain at just $100,008 guaranteed, meaning $16,668 per goal.

But the King of Value for 2007 was none other than Abe Thompson. Thompson never really cemented his role as a starter in MLS, and wouldn’t be a regular fixture for any team until signing with the 2nd division Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 2010. On a minuscule contract of just $30,000 guaranteed, his 5 goals cost the team just $6,000 each, one of the biggest value players in team history.

Abe Thompson great fans before an FC Dallas game in 2007. (Craig Marcho, 3rd Degree)

In context, this means Denilson wasn’t just bad. He was a ridiculous outlier. Three defenders equaled or beat him on the scoring charts, all making far less money, and in several cases ended up sticking around. Denilson was cut at the end of the season and went back to Brazil, signed with Hải Phòng in Vietnam, and eventually landed in Greece. He signed a deal with Kavala in January of 2010, and was cut in April without appearing in a single game. He retired shortly afterwards.

That leaves us with this table for the 2007 season, sorted by dollars per goal:

2007 Dollars/Goal

That concludes Part 1 of the Most Expensive Goals. Next up in Part 2, we’ll be looking at the 2008 season, including Kenny Cooper’s breakout year and the return of Jeff Cunningham.

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