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What should FC Dallas look for in a head coach?

Exploring what makes a candidate the right fit for Dallas

MLS: Chicago Fire at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The news of Oscar Pareja’s departure has spurred a lot of discussion about who FC Dallas should bring in to replace him. So far, the three fan-favorite candidates are Luchi Gonzalez, Marco Ferruzzi, and Tab Ramos. While these coaches would all be great fits for Dallas (unlike Caleb Porter), there hasn’t been much discussion about why or what characteristics Dallas should be looking for in a coach. I’ll propose the three I see as most important.

Knowledge of the system

FC Dallas runs things a little differently than most teams and any coach they bring in would be expected to work within the systems they already have in place. That means that they must understand the importance of playing the kids, know how to utilize the South American scouting network, and can work with the Hunt’s tight purse strings. The first two have given Dallas a massive advantage over other teams in the league and it would be a waste to bring in a coach wouldn’t properly utilize them and the Hunt’s frugality isn’t likely to change. Dallas don’t need to waste their time bringing in a coach that is just going to clash with the ownership about them not spending enough money. I expect that the Hunt’s financial expectations for any manager would be communicated clearly before any interviews.

Dallas’ unique setup is going to make it attractive to some candidates and scare off others. Given how successful Dallas have been playing the kids and signing nobodies from South America, I’m not eager to see Dallas leave those behind by signing a manager who isn’t interested in using those assets. And no one is going to know how to use those better than an internal candidate like Luchi or Ferruzzi.

Working with youth

No matter how many homegrowns Dallas sign or how many minutes they give them, the roars of “play the kids” are never silenced. Not only will the new manager have to deal with the fans’ and owners’ expectations about youth development, but to be successful they’re going to have to utilize academy products.

It’s not as simple as: Dallas has good young players and if you play them, they turn good and Dallas wins games. You have to balance developing youth players with being competitive now. You have to integrate kids when they’re ready as not to crush their confidence. You have to know the chemistry of the locker room to make sure that your personnel choices aren’t going to disgruntle any veterans.

It takes a special kind of coach to know how to maneuver these different variables. Pareja was excellent at it and it would be unfortunate to see the next coach abandon a focus on youth players. The new candidate is going to have to know how to play the kids.


Dallas isn’t a team with a face. There aren’t any players that are bigger than the rest of the team. We aren’t Matt Hedges and Co. the same way the Galaxy are (were?) Zlatan and Co. Any coach is going to have to not be afraid to grab the reigns of the team and get them fired up. With Dallas’ tendency for losing focus late in games and spontaneously going cold, a strong head coach who isn’t afraid to light a fire under the team is key to continuing the success Pareja had.

Are there any other characteristics you think are important in Dallas next head coach? Perhaps the ability to rock a v-neck sweater like nobody’s business? Let me know in the comments!