By IVES GALARCEP
MLS teams live and die on the success of their international acquisitions, and one team that has seen the immediate benefits of smart pick-ups is FC Dallas, which added two of the best newcomers of the 2013 season.
While Raul Fernandez has certainly played a major role in FC Dallas’ success in the first half of the season, the biggest difference maker for FCD this year has been Michel, who has stepped in and solidified the midfield while establishing himself as the most dangerous set-piece taker in the league. For those reasons, Michel is the SBI MLS Mid-Season Newcomer of the Year.
The Brazilian joined FC Dallas last winter, and had been expected to contribute as a defender, but once he settled into a defensive midfield role, he was key in the outstanding start to the season for FC Dallas. He has recorded a goal and five assists, but has also provided a steady stream of dangerous free kicks while also stabilizing the FC Dallas midfield, and helping the Dallas defense when injuries have struck.
Michel is just one of several outstanding newcomers in MLS this year. Here is a rundown of our Top Five so far this season, and our Best XI of MLS Newcomers:
SBI MID-SEASON NEWCOMERS OF THE YEAR
1. MICHEL GARBINI
Deadly on set pieces, poised in midfield, Michel has been FC Dallas’ most important player this season.
2. JOSE GONCALVES
Arguably the best defender in the league through the first half of the season, he has been instrumental in turning New England from a defensive laughing stock to one of the best back-lines in MLS.
3. CLINT IRWIN
Not a foreign signing, but the free agent pick-up from the American lower divisions stepped in for the injured Matt Pickens and turned in a steady run of strong performances to help keep the Rapids in the playoff race amid a myriad of injuries.
4. CLAUDIO BIELER
Sporting KC were looking for a goal scorer when they signed Bieler, and he has been just that, scoring eight goals for Sporting KC, leading all MLS newcomers in goals with eight.
5. RAUL FERNANDEZ
The acrobatic FC Dallas goalkeeper endured some tough going early in the season, but once he settled down he emerged as one of the best goalkeepers in MLS.
NEWCOMER MID-SEASON BEST XI
(Note, rookies do qualify as Newcomers for the purposes of this Best XI)
-Robert Earnshaw–Claudio Bieler——Olmes Garcia–
Chris Klute———————————-Andrew Farrell
———–Jose Goncalves——–Djimi Traore————-
Who gets your vote for MLS Mid-Season Newcomer of the Year? Cast your vote here:
Who did you vote for? Which newcomer has surprised you the most?
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