On a media call earlier this week to talk about the start of the 2021 season, FC Dallas President Dan Hunt responded to my question about expectations for the club ahead of their opening game of the season against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
I asked, “What are the markers in your mind for success this season as a club on the field and then likewise off the field? What would have you look back and be very satisfied with 2021 for FC Dallas?”
What is interesting is that Dan Hunt began his media session by remarking on how FC Dallas’ 2021 squad reminds him of the 2016 FC Dallas squad, one of Dallas’ most successful squads winning both the Lamar Hunt Open Cup and the Supporter’s Shield that season.
Dan Hunt was thus blunt in his response to my question: “We are here to win trophies.”
“Winning La Copita (in preseason) is really special because winning is a habit. You get in the habit of winning games, and sometimes you win games that you shouldn’t win. There have been teams that I have been associated with that have won different tournaments or different games that maybe they didn’t have their best performance, but you get in the habit of winning and lifting trophies and know what that feels like. That leads to good things,” Hunt responded. “The be all end all for us is lifting the MLS Cup. We got to do it for our fans, for the players here, and for our club. It would be an incredible moment to raise the stature of the club. That is the goal here. And obviously, if we do that, we are playing in Champions League too.”
Hunt repeated a refrain of the importance of the Open Cup with a caveat, “Anytime a trophy has your dad’s name on it, it’s a big deal... but the standard has to be to win the MLS Cup.”
Beyond the expectations on the field, he also outlined the importance of FC Dallas as a business that is growing its presence and being responsible in its relationships.
“We do our very best to run a real business here,” Hunt offered. “That’s selling tickets, selling sponsorship and being involved in the community, and growing our awareness. When I look back at this year, I want to continue this pattern of running a responsible business. I am responsible for people and their jobs here too. I want to keep people employed, growing the club, growing our youth club.”
But FC Dallas, like any sports club, is unique, faced with its own challenges.
Hunt asserted this by how much he and his brother continue to invest in the team.
“Sports is always unique because winning and financial results don’t necessarily correlate. It doesn’t work like that. I am tasked to trying to run a responsible business and reinvest in this club. My brother and I have never taken a dollar from this club,” he said. “My brother and I continue to invest all the time, buy players, increase our academy, spend on things like the Hall of Fame building.”
He continued, “We are in this for the long term. We are long-term players. I think that’s how you build success. That’s my goal - to continue to grow soccer and FC Dallas in North Texas.”
Hunt ended his remarks by being clear about his commitment to the World Cup 2026 bid and what it would mean for the area to be a host for that global tournament, claiming it would be a “crowning achievement for our community”.
“But we need to win MLS Cup,” Hunt reiterated, setting high standards and goals for this team in 2021.