FC Dallas is the class of Major League Soccer in 2016, and the club has done it with few – if any – big named players. Excellent coaching, brilliant defending and timely scoring have all pushed Dallas to the top of MLS’s overall points table, three points more than nearest Western Conference rival Colorado Rapid, and seven more than the Eastern Conference’s New York City FC.
With 20 of the team’s 34 games now in the books, Dallas has its eyes on the Supporters’ Shield. This week World Soccer Talk looks at 5 reasons FC Dallas is the class of Major League Soccer in 2016.
5. Chris Seitz brilliant in goal
Despite Jesse Gonzalez starting the season with two clean sheets from three, the goalkeeper’s play in Dallas’ Texas derby clash with Houston overshadowed his positive performances. That led Chris Seitz to taking over as goalkeeper, although injury forced Gonzalez out again in May. Seitz has started 15 matches in goal, posting nine wins, four draws and two losses. Seitz is currently tied for first in MLS in clean sheets with six, while making 41 saves this term and 1.5 saves per match inside the 18-yard box, according to WhoScored.com. Since taking over the No. 1 position for Dallas, Seitz is a big reason the team is in first place overall.
4. The muscle in the middle
Carlos Gruezo isn’t one of the most well-known players in MLS, but the 21-year-old designated player has been winning battles in Dallas’ midfield all season. In 16 matches this term, the Ecuadorian has averaged 3.3 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per match. Although Gruezo isn’t known for his offensive work, his ball movement from side-to-side is key in Dallas’ build-up play. Signed in January as one of Dallas’ three designated players, Gruezo is pocketing more than $680,000 in 2016.
3. Goals by committee
Dallas doesn’t have the names that New York City FC or LA Galaxy do, but the Hoops do have quality team players chipping in when needed. Michael Barrios leads the team with six goals, while Fabian Castillo and Tesho Akindele have five apiece. With only 14 games to go, it is unlikely that Dallas will have a player reach 12 goals this term, unless one of the three mentioned finds a rich vein of scoring form. Eleven different players have scored this term for Dallas.
2. Toyota Stadium is a fortress
Dallas has posted a seven win, three draw and zero loss home record in 2016. The club’s home form has kept them atop of MLS, as Western Conference rivals Colorado and LA Galaxy have both been undefeated at home as well. The Hoops have scored an impressive 20 goals while only giving up just six goals.
1. Mauro Diaz the creative link in the attack
Dallas attacking midfielder Mauro Diaz is on pace to break his MLS assists record of 10 this term. The Argentine has tallied nine assists, which is one behind league leader Sacha Kljestan. Diaz has four assists that have led to game winning goals, and he is averaging 3.1 key passes per match, according to WhoScored.com. While Gruezo has been the ball winner, Diaz has been the player that has unlocked defenses in the final third.
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