“We are a club that is not going to prioritize buying stars, or bringing stars.” said new head coach Luchi Gonzalez to the press today. “We’re a club that’s committed to developing stars - star people, star players, star staff - in our philosophy. And I’m 100% in line with that.”
Luchi Gonzalez was introduce today as the new head coach of FC Dallas, becoming the 7th manager in club history. Gonzalez had a very calm, yet firm demeanor in front of the media and simultaneously exuded confidence and humility with the task that’s before him. There was a bit of that former striker persona from Luchi, that whole lining up against defenders, taking a stance that says, ‘I’m not going to back down regardless of who you are’.
It makes sense. Those not familiar with Gonzalez have questioned whether he’d be the right person, or that there would be no reason to be excited about his hire. But that’s not something he’s shy of either.
“I embrace it.” Gonzalez noted about his lack of head coaching experience at the senior level. “I don’t have time to overthink the past, or my past experience, or my inexperience or my unprovenness. I know what I know, which is this club and these group of players. I’m going to give everything of myself to that. I have a lot of support to do it. We were all new at something. We were all new to an environment, a club, a team a position, a city. I didn’t know a lot of these people seven years ago, and I’d go to war with these people now. I embrace it. I love it. This is exciting. I can’t wait.”
That newness wasn’t lost to the people in the room, the front office or the head coach himself. Pressed about his ideology of integrating the youth with the first team, Gonzalez was forthright with his response, “Jesse didn’t know what playing professional was until Jesse had to play in goal and stand up to that. Paxton, Reggie - we have some other young men that are making their path and earning their opportunities. Chris wasn’t ready to play in pre-season in front of 50,000 people until he had to do it. We’re going to maintain that braveness, that boldness but it will be calculated.”
That braveness is possibly the club’s strongest value. It was brave to start an Academy when they did. It was brave when they made the pitch to get the Soccer Hall of Fame constructed in Frisco. It was brave to stick with their long term plan and just as they did with developing and promoting their own players, they’re starting to do the same with their coaching staff.
Luchi Gonzalez’s unveiling today, paired with FCD’s entry into USL League One in 2019, could be the start of an unprecedented experiment you’ll want to watch. https://t.co/34iegQPSxh— Will Parchman (@WillParchman) December 17, 2018
If successful, FC Dallas will be viewed as a machine, a factory, a soccer pipeline for development and opportunity that this country has never seen before. Of course, success is ultimately defined by trophies and that too was not lost on Gonzalez as he shared about watching the MLS Cup Final with his family, “I watched Atlanta raise the MLS Cup and it hurt me. That game hurt. We have to fight to win that cup, always.”
But to get there, there will be no short cuts taken. It will be done through a process that exudes the values of FC Dallas - development of stars. “We develop people. Whether they’re here or they move on to other things - we develop people.” It is about surrounding yourself with good people, the right people and those that will challenge you to grow and be a better player and person.
“Family is unconditional and family is number one. But grow your family.”
“I made sure I got back to everybody. That’s the way I work. That’s the kind of man I am. Get back to everybody. Make sure you stay connected. Build relationships. Collaborate. Believe in others.”
That kind of belief was evident as you scanned the crowd and noticed who was present as four of his former Academy players and now first teamers were present for their coach’s big day. Gonzalez taught them to be brave, to be bold on the field and take their game to another level. That instruction has landed them on the first team, a trial to Bayern Munich, and a rising USMNT starter.
Of course, development is not a straight path of progression. There will be set backs and challenges along the way. Will Luchi experience the dreaded summer swoon that has haunted this club for half a decade? If so, how will he weather that stretch? Dallas has been one of the fastest starting teams in the league for the past 6-7 years, how will he fair if the team starts the season winless in their first five matches? What will happen? How will the team respond? How will Luchi respond?
“We will be brave. We’re gonna be brave.”