Facundo Quignon isn’t typically a goal scorer. So when he scores, he makes sure to enjoy it. And why not? On April 23, the midfielder’s unlikely goal gave FC Dallas a late victory in a rivalry match against the Houston Dynamo.
A stoppage-time corner kick fell to Quignon at the back post, and he knocked it in and headed toward the supporters’ group in celebration. He then reversed course and headed for the opposite corner where Alan Velasco had just whipped the ball in. All the while, he was working on stripping his shirt off — the subsequent yellow card he earned a small price to pay for the thrill of victory.
Ahead of FCD’s trip to face the LA Galaxy this weekend, Quignon is working on having more joyful moments.
He’s experienced relatively few of them in his FC Dallas career, which started in July 2021 during a season that saw the team finish 11th in the Western Conference.
“I think every player who comes from abroad needs an adaptation period,” said FCD manager Nico Estévez. “He came when the season already had started and had problems with injuries, so I think, in this sense, he wasn’t able to offer the performances he really could bring to the team.”
Quignon was supposed to be a bandage on a self-inflicted wound. Heading into the 2021 season, FCD had the opportunity to sell Thiago Santos (who started in the middle of midfield last season) to a club in his native Brazil. They took Gremio’s cash but left then-manager Luchi Gonzalez without an obvious option at No. 6.
The club, which also sold academy product Tanner Tessmann to Venezia in July, brought Quignon from Lanus in an effort to add some solidity to a midfield unit that often was getting shoved around during games. Despite his pedigree, Quignon struggled to get used to the speed of MLS matches and committed errors that sometimes led to FCD conceding.
“The adaptation to the country and league? It was tough,” Quignon said. “But I think today I’m more relaxed and I’m understanding how to play, so I’m enjoying being here and this good form we’re in.” “I’m getting better. I have to improve, I know that, but I’m playing better and feeling happier than last year.”
It wasn’t just leaving Argentina that complicated the midfielder’s adaptation to MLS. Quignon suffered a thigh injury toward the end of the season that shut him down for the rest of the year.
When Estévez and his coaching staff took over for Gonzalez in the offseason, the first order of business when it came to Quignon was to bring him back to full fitness. That took a patient approach to make sure he didn’t have any setbacks and could start playing like the player he was with Lanus or from his younger days when he helped River Plate’s U-20 team capture the U-20 Copa Libertadores crown.
“We worked a lot with him to make sure those knocks he had would clear up, and when they were gone, he had grown physically [so] he could be himself, a bit of the player he is,” Estévez said. “He helps us with the calmness he has on the ball, the skills he has, the work he does every day. He’s a very professional player who works really hard.”
Quignon lets that work on the training ground do the talking, opting to lead by example more than speak up. Yet, the 29-year-old is starting to transition into someone who can help young players along. He’s looking to lend a hand to countryman Alan Velasco, who is 19, and Edwin Cerrillo, a 21-year-old academy graduate competing with Quignon for starting minutes, among other young players.
“In the squad, I’m among the oldest guys because it’s a roster with a lot of young guys, academy products,” he said. “Sometimes I’m in the role of an older player or speaking because I have more experience, staying calm at times when things don’t work out, working every day and not losing spirit, keeping the level and concentration high in training.”
It’s not just young players who have been impressed.
“He works really hard defensively. He’s in the right spot every time,” veteran center back Matt Hedges said. “We can give him the ball, and he gets out of tight spots. He’s the perfect guy to play the six.”
That was the idea FCD’s front office had when they brought Quignon to the club in the first place. Now, nearly a year after he arrived, they’re finally seeing hints that their gut feeling about him was correct.
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