FC Dallas booked Toyota Stadium for the first round of the 2022 Audi Major League Soccer Cup Playoffs with a victory over Sporting KC last weekend by completing historic performances throughout the regular season. FC Dallas enters the playoffs ranked third in the Western Conference, the highest ranking the team has secured since 2016 and the first time qualifying since the abbreviated 2020 season.
Following one of the more disappointing seasons in team history last year, FC Dallas brought Nico Estevez on board as the new head coach. Estevez immediately set to work to rebuild a team that had only recently been one of the most competitive clubs in the league.
Estevez and the front office for FC Dallas worked deals to bring forwards Paul Arriola and Jesus Ferreira, midfielders Marco Farfan and Sebastian Lletget, and goalkeeper Maarten Paes into the fold for 2022. The group of players proved to be difference makers over the course of the 34-game regular season.
Ferreira started with FC Dallas Academy in 2013 and played in his first MLS match in 2017 at only 16 years old. Ferreira played on the FC Dallas squad in 2019, 2020, and 2021, scoring eight goals in 2019 and 2021, but only a single score in 2020.
Despite being only 21 years old, Ferreira has become one of the leaders of the FC Dallas team. In 2022, his production exploded as he recorded 18 goals and six assists to lead the team and tie the franchise’s single-season scoring record.
Ferreira was in the conversation for the MLS Golden Boot award given to the player who scores the most goals in a season. He finished in third behind Dániel Gazdag and Sebastián Driussi (22, tied for second) and eventual winner Hany Mukhtar (23).
Arriola came to FC Dallas this season from DC United and has made an immediate impact on the front line. Arriola compiled 10 scores and seven assists over the season, his highest-scoring season as a professional soccer player. In June, Arriola scored a brace against Orlando, completing six scores in five games over the stretch.
Both Arriola and Ferreira were called up to the U.S. Men’s National Team and will compete in the 2022 World Cup for the Americans in November.
Farfan joined the team ahead of the start of the regular season in a trade with LAFC who had acquired Farfan from the Portland Timbers. Estevez brought in Farfan to rework the mid-back position to focus more on defense, sending fan favorite Ryan Hollingshead to LA in exchange.
Farfan made good on the shocking trade by strengthening the defense and providing a player who could easily transition from the back onto attack. In his first season, he scored one goal and provided three assists while regularly being involved in pass breakups and clearouts.
Paes came to Dallas on a loan from FC Utrecht and was officially signed to the team in July. Paes recorded eight clean sheets in 2022 with 92 saves including four on penalty kicks. Paes gave up only 37 goals in the season, the lowest of any team in the Western Conference.
Lletget was brought in late in the season to add strength to the middle, and his play helped FC Dallas stay in competition down the stretch. In only 24 games, Lletget earned one goal and four assists, helping FC Dallas power through the back half of the season. His solo goal was the difference-maker in the regular season finale, an essential win that earned Dallas its first home playoff game since 2018.
FC Dallas finished the regular season with a 14-9-11 win-loss-draw record, good enough to take third in the West. The team earned 53 points on the season to market the largest year-over-year improvement since the club was known as the Dallas Burn.
Dallas will face Minnesota on October 17 in the quarterfinal round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Dallas has not advanced past the second round of the MLS playoffs since 2010 when the club lost the MLS Cup Championship to the Colorado Rapids.
FC Dallas will look to capitalize on the efforts of Estevez and historic regular season performances to earn a playoff spot in front of the home fans in 2022.