FRISCO, Texas — The 2019 season has concluded for FC Dallas after suffering a first-round playoff defeat to the Seattle Sounders, 4-3, in overtime. FC Dallas had the youngest roster in MLS with a first-year head coach who gave the second-most amount of minutes to Homegrown players — only trailing Real Salt Lake.
The season had its ups and downs, but the highs were significant. The team was developing its own identity and style of play throughout the year — something that will only continue to improve moving forward.
To wrap up 2019, we caught up with different members of the media who cover FC Dallas — including Carlos Alvarado, the Spanish voice of FC Dallas, The Dallas Morning News's Jon Arnold, ProSoccerUSA's Arman Kafai, and FC Dallas broadcasters, Mark Followill and Steve Davis.
This Roundtable discussion will be split up into six parts — each one going over different topics. In the first three parts, the media graded the coaching staff, this season's Offensive MVP, and chose their breakout player they didn't expect to see. Next, the group chooses their 2019 Defensive MVP.
Who is your 2019 FC Dallas Defensive MVP?
Alvarado: Reto Ziegler, because of his leadership.
Arnold: Jesse Gonzalez. It was a good year for the goalkeeper, who not only kept FCD in games it had no right to be in but also added an improved level of distribution to his already impressive tool kit. There are games, like the playoff match in Seattle, in which you still feel like he has more to add - whether it's focus or something with technique, but FCD should feel very good about the goalkeeper crew it has.
Davis: Lots of choices, including another good year from Matt Hedges. Same for Reggie Cannon. Jesse Gonzalez’s game continued to mature. And Reto Ziegler was not only outstanding on the field but also added “Captain duty” to his plate. But was there any bigger, more unanticipated contribution than the one delivered by Ryan Hollingshead? Totals of 3 goals, 6 assists would be good for a midfielder. For an outside back (where Hollingshead spent the bulk of his minutes this year) it is absolutely sensational. It’s MLS Best XI stuff, really, although the way these things are constructed, outside backs rarely make the list. Hollingshead grabbed the left back position and never let go. He rendered Marquinhos Pedroso (a talented player and likeable locker room sort) completely expendable. The club rewarded Hollingshead with a new contract in the middle of the season – a gesture that was 100-percent deserved.
Kafai: Hedges. It wasn't an MLS Defender of the year or Best XI season for Hedges but he improved drastically in passing out of the back and was often the man to make that right late challenge or win an aerial duel. His game arguably improved the most (maybe next to Hollingshead) on the back-line and really adapted to Luchi's style. It's tough because I think the entire back-line was honestly solid, save for the occasional mistake in the match, but Hedges gets the nod for me.
Followill: Ryan Hollingshead. Ryan was the only player on the team who appeared in every game and started all but one game. He made left back his position and eliminated any competition for the spot in the Starting XI. Ryan told me this year that he could always get forward but really found his way as a defender and took pride in his defending this season. It was by far his best season as a pro.