When Fabian Espindola came to D.C. United in the Re-Entry Draft prior to last season, he was billed as a streaky forward. And while that might be true within a season, though that can be debated as well, he has been remarkably consistent season over season the past four years: he is one of only four MLS players with nine goals or more in each of those past four seasons. But can he make that a fifth straight season?
There are two key things to keep in mind when talking about Fabian Espindola's 2015 season: his six game league suspension and his new designated player contract. I think that the letter isn't going to have much of an effect on Espindola; he has been making similar money for a few years now, but it has either been just under the DP threshold or it was paid down with allocation money. For example, he made only $150,000 according to the MLS Players Union last season, but his actual compensation was apparently fairly close to what he will be making in 2015. Also, there is a question as to whether the whole idea of players not playing as well after getting a bigger contract is real or recency bias, but that is a question for another post.
The suspension for shoving the assistant referee, on the other hand, will keep Espindola out for the first six weeks of league play (though he will be able to play in the Concacaf Champions League). Over the past four seasons, he has only played in 30 games or more once, hitting 30 in 2012 for the New York Red Bulls. In his entire MLS career, he has never started more than 27 games in a season, and yet still has 40 goals over the past four seasons. If he is able to start every single game the rest of the season, he will get to 28 games and therefore be in line with his average career numbers. His injury last season was his first time missing a significant number of games due to injury in years, and it was due to Felipe and not because Espindola is injury-prone.
All of this is prelude to the actual question: Can Espindola do it again? All the evidence seems to point that he can, but you never know how the march of time will effect a player in any given year. Espindola's game isn't particularly based on speed, but more on his trickery and awareness. And, he will only turn thirty during this season, and should still be in his prime. Who knows, he could even take a step up this season.