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Luchi Gonzalez on Franco Jara: “Franco is our player.”

After the gut wrenching loss at Minnesota United, FC Dallas Head Coach was asked about Franco Jara’s role with the team and how he fits. Hear Luchi’s response.

MLS: FC Dallas at Minnesota United FC David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

I joined my first post-game media call on Zoom with FC Dallas Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez after the team's gut wrenching, late game loss to Minnesota United.

Luchi was understandably somber and reflective after a match in which he demanded much from his players and felt like the team deserved something from their effort, if even a point.

Though I’m new to the sports media game in many ways, I decided to ask the question many fans have been murmuring about since MLS salary information dropped last week and as the team has struggled to get going offensively. Does Franco Jara really fit Luchi’s style of play? Does Luchi have the freedom to play who he wants to implement his style, or does that $3 million dollar budget hit speak loudly to priorities imposed by the larger organization?

Luchi, to his credit, was direct about how Franco fits.

“2020 was a challenging year for everybody in the league. For us, Franco joined us mid-pandemic. It wasn’t an easy transition. He got some important goals for us that helped us get into the playoffs. I saw him fantastic in the preseason. He certainly responded to them. He scored some goals. Fantastic energy and the pressure. Fit, mentality, ready and excited,” Luchi said. “I would say for sure fitting into the plans and how we play with and without the ball.”

Jara did score seven goals last season, which was a bright spot for a team and league that traditionally witnesses mid-season arrivals make less than stellar impacts as they adjust to the physicality, pace, and travel of Major League Soccer.

Nodding to his body of experience as a professional player and coach, Luchi acknowledged though that effort and fitness doesn’t always equal success.

“I see a player who is giving everything to this team, and sometimes you give everything. And you want it so bad but it doesn’t happen,” Luchi said.

“He’s our player. He’s very important to this team, and he’s going to keep working,” Luchi said. “He’s gone through things like this in his career before, and he knows it’s just a matter of time before he can change it.”

Luchi continued to recognize the depth and role all of the attackers on this team have to play in the coming matches, despite an early season setback for Jesus Ferreira who may be poised to challenge for minutes and Ricardo Pepi who has scored once.

“Yes, we have good depth like Pepi and Jesus, who was unfortunately injured just before the first game of the season,” Luchi responded. “We have our depth. We’re gonna look at and analyze everything this week and we’ll try to put on the field and start and end with what we feel is the best.”

But to accentuate his backing of Jara, Luchi was emphatic. “But Franco is important for us to reach our objectives.”

The attention surely shifts to this coming weekend and how Luchi decides to line up against Real Salt Lake, a team with plenty of talent and capability of spoiling Dallas’ effort to notch another win at this juncture in the season. No doubt, Luchi and the team feel extra pressure to get things right. At the same time, it’s still early days, and there are many games to play.

I imagine Luchi’s comments will strike chords of support with Jara who is just as frustrated as fans are in the inability to get going so far.

What do you think about Luchi’s comments? Do you see a glimmer of possibility for Pepi or Ferreira getting minutes this weekend? Do you think Jara can turn things around?