FRISCO, Texas — While he's only made two appearances for FC Dallas since arriving during the summer transfer window, Pablo Aranguiz has impressed so far, helping his new team pick up a 2-0 win over Minnesota United in his first start Saturday.
The hope is that Aranguiz can continue to adapt quickly and rise above the pack of midseason signings who need time to adjust to the league and North American life.
Midfielder Victor Ulloa, who broke into the FC Dallas first team as Diaz began to settle in during the 2014 campaign, sees a lot of similarities between the two playmakers.
"They're both explosive and dynamic on the ball, game changers," Ulloa said. "We give [Aranguiz] the ball and he has that confidence, he has that explosiveness. Playing those through balls, that vision. Technically he's outstanding, and we saw a little glimpse of that tonight. I think his potential is even higher, but I'm proud of him and happy that he's adapted quickly. This is a tough league to come into, especially in that No. 10 role. I think he did an outstanding job today."
One key aspect that Aranguiz will look to diverge from Diaz is health. Diaz arrived from River Plate in 2013 with a history of hamstring issues that left his right leg under-developed and prone to further injury. Dallas, led by strength and conditioning coach Fabian Bazan, devised a four-year plan to cut out those upper leg injuries that plagued him, although a ruptured Achilles tendon in late 2016 ruled "The Little Unicorn" out for seven months and hampered his final full year at Toyota Stadium.
Reggie Cannon, one of FC Dallas' standouts so far in 2018, is excited by what he's seen from Diaz's heir apparent.
"With Pablo, the kid's already all over the ball," Cannon said. "That's really helped us with maintaining possession, being a dangerous player that can turn on the dribble and he really gives us that threat that we've been missing since Mauro left. That real No. 10 who has grown up in that position. The team, we've been gaining chemistry with him and he's turned out to be a very good player so far."
With two Texas Derby games in the space of ten days, beginning with Thursday's Heineken Rivalry Week clash in Houston (9 pm ET | UniMás, Twitter - Full TV & Streaming Info), and a race to seal their playoff spot, Ulloa is feeling confident with Aranguiz, who's dubbed El Principito ("The Little Prince").
"You watch this guy in training and he does some amazing things with the ball," Ulloa said. "I'm just so happy to be alongside him, and glad he's my teammate and not my rival. Hopefully he can help us finish strong and push into the playoffs."