12.3 Nico DL

FRISCO, Texas – When he speaks, Nico Estévez just sounds like a soccer coach.

And it’s not just the Spanish accent. He speaks about the game with an assured authority that only comes from experience.

“I’m coming from a culture in Spain that identified the way that I see soccer, the way I want to play,” said the 41-year-old Estévez. “Obviously, you need to know the roster to see the players we have. And as we always say, coaches need to adapt to the qualities of the players. But we know that it’s a team that’s going to press, be aggressive, a team that’s going to try to create goal-scoring opportunities through possession but also through transitions. With the profile of players we have, it can be attractive for fans, be attractive for us, but also give us the success in the games that we want.”

Estévez began his career working in youth soccer in his hometown of Valencia. By the time he was 30, Estévez was head coach of Spanish third division side Huracán Valencia CF. He took the new club to second place (and the promotion playoffs) after registering two just losses over a 40-game season. It wasn’t long until Spain’s big boys took notice. Six-time La Liga winner Valencia CF recruited Estévez to coach its reserve team in 2013. Midway through his tenure, Estévez was promoted to interim head coach of Valencia’s senior team. His first team stint was short, but Estévez showed he was ready for his next step.

This is where Estévez’s American soccer journey began.

Then 34, Estévez moved to Columbus, Ohio with his wife and two children to become Director of Methodology for the Columbus Crew Academy. After two years, he joined the first team coaching staff under then head coach Gregg Berhalter. When Berhalter left to lead the U.S. Men’s National Team, Estévez went with him. Aside from helping the USMNT to a Gold Cup and Nation’s League title this summer, Estévez was the driving force behind the recruitment of American-born but England-raised midfielder Yunus Musah, whom he met through his Valencia connections. Recruiting battles are very different at the club and international levels, but Estévez’s ability to sell a project to players is vital.

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The Spaniard’s time with the USMNT means he’s already worked with some of the FC Dallas squad—most recently forwards Ricardo Pepi and Jesús Ferreira. Estévez feels that his prior knowledge of the squad can help his transition into the new role.

“I’ve had a lot of players from Dallas and I love all of them,” he said. “You can see their tactical education, their personal education, they’re all great guys. So, I loved the idea to come here and help Dallas keep contributing for the national team.

“It always helps knowing the players. The reason they’re in the national team is because their profile is good and special for what we’re looking for. It’s something that makes me feel comfortable working with and I think that helps a lot for me.”

The confidence of FC Dallas’ leadership will also help Estévez as he takes the reins of the club ahead of the 2022 season. Of nearly 200 candidates for the job, Estévez was the one.

“Our search for the next head coach of FC Dallas was a global search. As we went through this process, it was clear that Nico was the right person for this role,” said FC Dallas President Dan Hunt. “Nico’s experience and pedigree speak for themselves. He has a unique and truly diverse background… He is at heart a soccer coach. He has an incredible ability to engage and communicate his vision to his players and staff and at all levels of the game, from the academy up through the national team player pool.”

“I know Nico had been approached by other MLS clubs but he didn’t want to talk to them or be a part of the interview process,” FC Dallas Technical Director André Zanotta revealed in Estévez’s introductory press conference. “But once he heard FC Dallas was interested in him, he felt it was a good fit for him and he wanted to be a part of the interview process. So, this made me feel like Nico had something more that we wanted to explore. After bringing him here, he fits exactly the profile we were looking for and we feel really good about him.”

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Now that FC Dallas has its man, the real work begins. And Head Coach Nico Estévez couldn’t be more excited:

“I feel like I’ve been floating all day,” he said after touring Toyota Stadium for the first time. “I’m super excited, I want to meet everyone, I want to talk with everyone I want to share different ideas, listen to their opinions, learn more about the club. It’s very, very exciting walking on the pitch, touching the grass, thinking of the players and how they’re going to love this pitch. Walking on the pitch gives me goosebumps because I’m thinking about being there with the players in front of the fans cheering for them in this stadium. That’s what’s going to make us successful.”