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After Dark Preview: Luchi Gang Is Over

Dallas lost to Houston, and Luchi Gonzales is out as head coach. We have a lot to discuss on our live video show on Monday evening. Get a preview here.

MLS: FC Dallas at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Sandwiched in the middle of a Dallas Cowboys game, FC Dallas announced the departure of Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez today.

It’s news that came as a surprise in some ways but not in others.

And it’s news that the Big D After Dark live show crew will talk about tomorrow (Monday) evening at 9 PM CST on Facebook and Youtube.

Links to the Live Show

Rewind: Dan Hunt Makes Priorities Clear

At the beginning of the season in a media call, I got to ask Dan Hunt point blank about what would make the season a success. Underneath that question was an air of suspicion about a sense of contentedness with the team. In other words, was Dan Hunt okay with a mediocre season even if they sold a few players?

But to his credit, Dan Hunt was clear - playoffs and hardware would make a successful season.

Fast forward several months later, Dan Hunt held to his word, relieving Luchi Gonzalez of his position after a gut wrenching loss at Houston which just about eliminates FC Dallas from playoff position.

While Dallas may not be mathematically eliminated, they would need to put together an incredible run on the road and at home to have a shot, and with the way the team has been playing, it’s unlikely that can be achieved. Why not wipe the slate clean and start looking for that next coach now?

Did Luchi deserve to go?

Luchi Gonzalez’s time at FC Dallas had its moments, and Luchi was definitely a fun guy to interview and talk to about tactics and soccer. His enthusiasm for the players came through time and time again. In many ways, he fit the culture FC Dallas tries to espouse - multi-cultural and family-oriented.

You can argue too that Luchi was dealt an incomplete hand most of his seasons. Players were sold off at inopportune times. The talent brought in to replace players has been a very mixed bag. Injuries particularly damaged the 2021 season, which is hard to blame on a coach unless he is over-working his squad. He was able to bring along the younger players and preside over the sale of some quality talent.

But ultimately, Luchi didn’t get the job done. Despite a playoff win last season, the team continually started games slow, looked out of ideas, and struggled to adapt. Maybe the talent level and pieces didn’t fit Luchi’s vision, but a coach in this situation has to make changes. Worse, the team’s progress was never on the same page. When the team was good defensively, they struggled offensively. When the team started clicking on the offense this season, the defense became porous.

Luchi may turn out to be a great coach, but ultimately, it seemed like his rise from the ranks of the academy to the senior team was a little too fast.

Change

With a new head coach on the horizon, FC Dallas also needs to think hard about slimming down the roster, even if it means letting a few players walk with little in return.

For starters, youth players are likely to be sold again this offseason. Justin Che is the likeliest candidate. Ricardo Pepi is getting buzz, and don’t be surprised if Jesus Ferreira also gets a look. I imagine there will always be teams curious about Szabolcs Schön. With the right coach, maybe those youngsters stick around a little bit longer to taste some MLS success.

Other young players that have decisions looming include guys like Phelipe Megiolare, the young Brazilian GK who has been earning minutes while Jimmy Maurer recovers. Is he a long term piece for this team?

Have we seen anything from Freddy Vargas, other than dominating with North Texas SC?

Is Ema Twumasi a potential jack-of-all-trades like Ryan Hollingshead, or have we already seen his ceiling?

Among veterans, the Bryan Acosta era needs to be over. Acosta has been a fine servant for this club, but he has never fit. The defense likely needs a retool with talent to put pressure on the veterans. Jader Obrian has done enough to stick around, and Quignon likely has a role going forward. Franco Jara needs to go. Andres Ricaurte hasn’t done enough either.

Of course, a new coach could find ways and means to get more out of some of these veterans.

Potential Hires

Who replaces Luchi? Your guess is as good as mine. We’ll have time to talk more about this in the coming weeks as speculation mounts.

A couple of internal guys that might deserve a conversation include Peter Luccin, current assistant coach, or North Texas SC head Eric Quill.

Across the league, it’s hard to imagine Dallas prying away a coach from an existing situation. I imagine the ship has sailed on a potential Oscar Pareja return. Would Robin Fraser fit FC Dallas’ culture, and would he do even better with a stronger academy system and funds from international sales than in Colorado? Is there an assistant coach that fits the Dallas spirit to develop and play attacking soccer?

Should FC Dallas inquire about Matias Almeyda?

Could FC Dallas replicate DC United’s success with a hire from Europe? If so, who?

In other words, we will talk a lot about FC Dallas’ disappointing loss to Houston, give some love to Jader Obrian, and dissect the Luchi Gonzalez era tomorrow evening. You should join us, and we’ll take your comments and questions live.

- What topic do you think we should cover?

- What kind of coach should Dallas be looking at?