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A closer look at new FC Dallas signee Edwin Gyasi

FC Dallas announced the loan signing of new Ghanian winger Edwin Gyasi from Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia on July 1, the opening day of the international transfer window. Gyasi was purchased using Targeted Allocation Money and in 52 appearances for Sofia, had six goals and 10 assists.

Gyasi has had 5 international appearances with Ghana, scoring a goal. His last cap came on September 8, 2018, in a 1-0 loss to Kenya. While another player arriving from Eastern Europe, Gyasi is a man of mystery, with only YouTube clips to his name.

Take a closer look at what impact Gyasi could have for FC Dallas.

Film review

Gyasi is a left-footed winger on the surface. He’s played center forward and each winger position throughout his career. He has incredibly quick speed, able to beat his defenders to the ball. What makes Gyasi standout from many is his dribbling. He is unafraid to take on defenders with the ball, utilizing stepovers and other tricks in an attempt to break down the defense.

Those stepovers are dangerous when Gyasi is on the right side of the pitch as an inverted winger. Sofia deployed him in that position multiple times. His ability to cut in with the ball and use that left-foot profound, as Gyasi is quite clearly much more comfortable on his left foot compared to his right. Many times, he will want to go to that left foot, moving inside and opening up space on that side. This is where a Reggie Cannon can fill in that spot by going up the pitch as coach Luchi Gonzalez enjoys seeing his fullbacks push up high. An overlap from Cannon can find that space and create an overload on that side of the park. Mixing it up a few times, Gyasi will attempt to play balls with his right but it is not as strong as his left.

On the left, Gyasi will still stepover and attempt to beat defenders with his dribbling but obviously, be more contained to that one side. He is not afraid to take shots after stepovers and will attempt some on target with a strong foot. Centrally, Gyasi can also be positioned for success. An underrated passer, Gyasi has assisted on some goals for Sofia using perfectly weighted through-balls. He’s able to make runs behind defenses with his quick pace.

However, Gyasi may have an over-reliance on his left foot, cutting to his preferred foot more often than not. Defenses often force him middle with the move and into traffic, either creating a turnover or a blocked shot in the end. As an inverted winger, he sometimes will force himself away from the goal to go onto that preferred foot, which can lead to crosses from deep that go sailing or long shots, instead of working the ball into the box. 

Gonzalez has options on where he wants to put Gyasi. He can elect to have two inverted wingers with Michael Barrios being on the left and Gyasi on the right, opening up the width from the fullbacks. However, with the left wing being such a question mark for much of the season, expect Gyasi to play more on his strong footed side to compliment Barrios. The versatility of Gyasi can allow for him to switch sides with Barrios if needed mid-game.

“We felt like we needed one more piece to stretch opposition on the final line,” Gonzalez told Pro Soccer USA. “That’s the profile. We think Gyasi has the movement, the athleticism, the technique, the timing, and the mentality to create a lot of havoc in behind the last line, either on the right or left side. He’s left-footed, so that’s something different for us. That gives us another weapon, another variation. We’ve only got great research and references in terms of his character and mentality to do what it takes for the team and to play his role. We’re looking forward to bring him in and we’re going to integrate him quickly and push him to help our team in the attack.”

Statistical impact

However, in 2019, Gyasi has not been off to a solid start, having two goals and an assist in the Bulgarian league. In his last 10 matches, he has had only a goal to his name. Gyasi’s 2018 was stronger, with four goals and six assists. However, his expected goals (xG) and assist numbers (xA), from Wyscout are drastically different.  Expected assists show the likelihood of a pass resulting in an assist, depending on the weight, type of pass, endpoint, and length. Expected goals show the likelihood of a goal on a given shot, depending on factors such as the assist, shot type and distance from the goal. FC Dallas has had trouble in the attack creating, relying on Barrios for much of its firepower. Dominque Badji has been out of position at left wing and attacking players such as Zdenek Ondrasek and Pablo Aranguiz have disappointed. 

 The graph clearly shows that Barrios needs some help as the only true creator on the team. If Gyasi can find his 2018 form, he will be a welcomed option to partner with Barrios, adding to the balance of the attack. It also allows Badji to revert back to the forward role, where he is tied with Jesus Ferriera at .35 in expected goals and can contribute in that way.

There’s obviously more elements to take into consideration but the signing of Gyasi seems to be a positive one– if he can shake off his poor form in 2019. The addition of another Barrios-like player can push the team towards the top of the Western Conference standings, with strong performances even with a question-mark at left wing. If not, Dallas will have added another non-contributing player into the attack and continuing the list of non-impactful summer signings.

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