2023 Season

Why YOU Should Vote Jesús Ferreira, Maarten Paes, Nkosi Tafari for 2023 MLS All-Star Game

5.31 All Star Article

FRISCO, Texas - It's that time of the year. Time to vote for MLS's standout players to represent the league in the 2023 All-Star Game. This time around, the All-Stars are facing Premier League runners-up Arsenal FC on July 19 at Audi Field in D.C. Vote HERE.

Typically, the All-Star game is filled with the league's biggest names--hence All-Stars. But I'm here to make the case to vote for three of the league's top performers, regardless of their star power. Those three top performers: FC Dallas' Jesús Ferreira, Maarten Paes and Nkosi Tafari.

Now, I support you in voting for any and every FC Dallas player. But I'm making the case for these three in particular because I think they've been the standouts in FCD's attack, defense and between the goalposts.


We'll start with the player who already has one All-Star game to his name, Jesús Ferreira.

Ferreira is backing up his breakout 2022 campaign with another stellar season. The 22-year-old is tied for fourth in the Golden Boot race with eight goals. Impressively, five of those eight goals were game-winners, the most in MLS. And further, all eight came from the run of play (no penalties or free kicks), third-most in the league.

Let's also dive a little deeper in Ferreira's underlying stats to illustrate that he's not just a goal-scorer. He's among the best all-around forwards in MLS (and therefore deserves to be in the All-Star game once again).

Ferreira is third in the league for Goals Minus Expected Goals (xG) with +2.5. That means he's scored 2.5 more goals than he'd be expected to based on the quality of his chances. Essentially, he's one of the most clinical players in MLS. And here's a collection of how Ferreira ranks among his forward peers around the league:

  • 88th percentile for goals per shot (.23)
  • 88th percentile for Expected Assists (.14 per game)
  • 88th percentile for Key Passes (1.69 per game)
  • 83rd percentile for shot-creating actions (3.22 per game)
  • 92nd percentile for passes attempted (33.19 per game)
  • 92nd percentile for progressive passes (3.53 per game)
  • 88th percentile for progressive carries/dribbles (1.92 per game)
  • 92nd percentile for tackles (1.30 per game)
  • 83rd percentile for interceptions (.46 per game)

Yes, those are cherry picked figures to show where Ferreira is best. But they paint a picture of versatile, hard-working striker. Ferreira's passing ranks among the best for forwards and his defensive work (tackles, interceptions) are also strong. Couple those with his scoring ability and you have a player that needs to be in the All-Star game. Go vote.

Now we'll move on to FCD's main man between the sticks, goalkeeper Maarten Paes. The Dutchman is having a strong second season in Dallas and would make a great addition to this year's All-Star game.

Let's start out with Paes' ability to come up with big saves in the most difficult situations: penalties. Officially, Paes has faced two penalties and made one save while the other was missed (off the crossbar). But watch the tape, it's even better than that. Paes essentially saved the same penalty twice because, after the first save, it was retaken since Paes' toe was off the goal line. Just a technicality. No other goalkeeper in MLS has faced two or more penalties with none of them going in the goal.

But Paes isn't just a life-saver from 12 yards. His overall play has saved Dallas several points this season and his ability with his feet helps the team build attacks out of the back. Time for some stats. Among MLS goalkeepers in 2023, Paes ranks in:

  • 79th percentile for Goals Allowed (1.00 per game)
  • 71st percentile for Save Percentage (75.5%)
  • 86th percentile for Post-Shot Expected Goals (1.06 per game)
  • 83rd percentile for Passes Completed (29.83 per game)

The Post-Shot Expected Goals stat stands out. It basically measures the likelihood of a shot scoring after it's taken based on the placement and quality. Since he's in the 86th percentile, Paes is among the best at saving shots that have a high Expected Goals metric once they're hit. Below is an example of when Paes blocked a beautiful curling effort from the LA Galaxy's Riqui Puig. If this save doesn't make you want to vote for Paes, I'm not sure what will.

Last but not least, Nkosi Tafari. The fourth-year center back is enjoying his strongest campaign so far and is making a good case for his first All-Star appearance. For one, Tafari has begun to add goals to his game. Center backs aren't on the field to score goals but they certainly don't hurt. The 25-year-old leads all center backs with two goals this season (and he also has an assist!). But his defensive and passing metrics are just as impressive:

  • 90th percentile for % dribblers tackled (76%)
  • 91st percentile for aerial duels % (72.4%)
  • 78th percentile for progressive passes (3.57 per game)
  • 78th percentile for long passes completed (7.05 per game)
  • 87th percentile for key passes (.39 per game)
  • 99th percentile for through balls (.29 per game)

Tafari's tackling and aerial duel rate (two very important stats for defenders) are both in the 90th percentile or above. His passing (progressive, long, key, and through balls) are also near the best in the league. With his ability in defense AND attack, Tafari deserves a place on the MLS All-Star team.

Plus, he's always good for a great quote.