FCDallas.com was able to speak with FCD Technical Director Fernando Clavijo just before he left with the team for a week-long preseason trip to Mexico. Clavijo had just finished two deals that brought strikers Kenny Cooper and Eric Hassli to Dallas. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.
When did these deals come together?
We knew they were available. We really didn’t have any resources to go out and get these guys, but it opened up when Brek Shea’s move came about.
It came really quickly the last four and a half days. Everything came very quick and we were able to come out and make some offers to the players.
Thoughts on Cooper?
Kenny is someone who scored 18 goals in a season in MLS and that’s hard to come by – and he’s still 28-years-old. For us, we’re happy it happened.
Thoughts on Hassli?
He’s a big strong boy up front with very big feet. When you look at his qualities he has good skills, is quick, able to score goals and will be a threat to the defense.
Is there some kind of Dallas/Toronto connection? De Guzman in 2012 and now Hassli.
We all look at the game in a different way. We got Julian de Guzman last year and after playing here he said he enjoyed his time playing in Dallas like never before. He said playing here brought his happiness back to playing the game. Maybe that got some other players [around the league] to feel the same way.
With Hassli, I talked to him, and he was extremely happy about coming to Dallas. Many players like the way we play. They appreciate that we treat the game the way we do. That’s a credit to Schellas and the way we do things. It’s a good move for him. Hassli’s wife is American. It’s a perfect fit for him right now.
When do Cooper and Hassli meet up with the team?
Both of them join the team in Mexico and we look forward to the next three and a half weeks to integrate them into the team and figure out how the coaches will put them together.
How do you feel about the roster right now?
I feel good. There’s always a question mark until they play, but I feel good for the roster. We’re younger, more powerful than ever before. We are strong. Back four is solid and our goalkeeper is young. I think this roster can challenge for the No. 1 spot in MLS. A more mature Fabian, more mature Jackson, healthier David Ferreira and the two or three strikers up front can only make it better.
How is the grind of the off-season in assembling a team?
It’s up and down every day. We’re doing what we need to do to get the team better. But you do affect people’s lives. I don’t like that part of it, but we have to do it.
It’s a rollercoaster for us sometimes. It’s been a learning process for me too. It’s not an easy thing.
When you look at the roster right now, we have a very credible roster. But it’s only a piece of paper. Now they have to go on the field and play. But I do believe we have the ingredients for a championship team, I really do believe that.