FRISCO, Texas — Soon after Mauro Diaz's departure to the United Arab Emirates, FC Dallas lined up 21-year-old Pablo Aranguiz to be their next No. 10. While it was assumed that the Chilean was a ready-made replacement, Dallas have taken time to integrate Aranguiz and allow him to adapt to life in the US.
Sunday's game in Seattle (10 pm ET | FS1, TSN - Full TV & Streaming info) is the first that Aranguiz, or indeed any of the four most recent additions at Toyota Stadium will be eligible for. So what is FC Dallas getting in Aranguiz?
"I bring a conduction," said Aranguiz through a translator. "I can control the ball and help the team transition, as well as finding my teammates to open play. I can help to dictate the midfield."
"Pablo is a very technical player," said FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja. "He's smart, he can play underneath the forward or as a false winger, too. As a player, he has a lot of versatility in his offensive game. I see a smart guy, he has many tools in his bag, and for sure he's going to contribute to our plans."
Pareja mentioned Aranguiz featuring as a false winger, as Diaz was in the 4-3-3 formation Dallas have often opted for in road games, but Aranguiz is adept as a traditional winger too. This opens up the possibility of rotating with the team's regular trio of wingers — Michael Barrios, Santiago Mosquera and Roland Lamah — to further unsteady defenses.
Switching the wingers was commonplace at Toyota Stadium, but with Aranguiz presenting a far more mobile option than Diaz, and the others all featuring in the central attacking midfield spot this season, fans could see him in all three positions behind the forward in Pareja's favored 4-2-3-1 formation. Whatever Pareja needs, his new midfielder is willing to deliver it.
"I'm whatever Oscar [Pareja] needs me to be," said Aranguiz. "I'm ready to adapt to what the lineup will be in any attacking sense I am needed."
At just 21, and with no experience of American soccer, it would be fair to think of Aranguiz as one for the future. Diaz didn't really settle into MLS until his third season, and battled homesickness until the arrivals of fellow Argentines Maxi Urruti and Mauro Rosales in 2016. Still, Aranguiz, the only Chilean player in team history, and Pareja are focused on the remainder of 2018.
"These first six months are what I'm focused on," said Aranguiz. "To try and make the team, and help the team to the playoffs. That's my main focus, after that I can focus on the next full season."
"I don't want to talk too much about the future or the past," said Pareja. "I just want to concentrate our group in the present, and the present is Seattle, so now we're going to face them with the tools including Pablo and [Dominique] Badji. The guys who are new and the guys who have been here. All of the cylinders are on just for that one game."