Q&A: US U-20 assistant coach Dave Dir

FRISCO, Texas — Dave Dir will forever be revered by FC Dallas fans as the franchise’s first head coach.

He was at the helm of the then-Dallas Burn from 1996 to 2000 and led the club to what many longtime fans consider the crowning moment: the 1997 US Open Cup title. Dir’s Dallas sides all made the playoffs and two advanced to the Western Conference semifinals.

Since leaving the MLS coaching ranks, he has worked as an assistant for the US U-20 team and as a broadcaster for FCD and other MLS clubs. What is going on with the U-20s right now?

Dir: Well, we just got back from the Milk Cup, which we won. That was pretty exciting. We have a little down time now because all the international players are in season and the college players have started up to college. Outside of that, we have some proposed trips but nothing etched in stone. Who are some of the names fans can look for to make an impact in the future from your current group?

Dir: Wow, this is actually a very good group. I think Sebastian Lletget, who is playing over in England. He was in the U-17 pool and went over to England, so he didn’t play in the U-17 World Cup, so he’s a little bit of an unknown. Omar Salgado is another guy who is quite a special player. He just went on loan to Vancouver in the second division. You coached FCD’s Brek Shea in the U-20s. Are you surprised at how he’s broken out over the last year and a half?

Dir: I think everybody always knew Brek had talent. I don’t think talent was ever really a question. I think consistency has been, and that’s part of being a young player. So what’s really been impressive is his maturity. Once he finally got a chance to be a regular in the lineup, I think he’s matured not only on the field, but off of it. He’s done a really good job of becoming a complete player. He still has a ways to go because he’s young, but there is a great future for him. You also coached Anthony Wallace, who was recently traded by FCD to Colorado. Do you think that move is good for him?

Dir: Unfortunately for Wally, I think he was in the situation where he really didn’t get the opportunities. It’s definitely going to be a positive for him to go somewhere where they look at him freshly. When you have young players, they make mistakes, and sometimes the coach gets tied in on those mistakes and never forgets them. I think him getting in a situation where he’s allowed to do that is going to build his self-confidence. The Wallace trade was one of many moves FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman has made since taking over. You’ve known Schellas for a long time. How would you assess the job he’s done so far?

Dir: His first two years were a bit rough. When you have to overhaul something, you’re going to have that. I think he was a good person with the patience needed to overhaul that whole thing. They were in a situation where that needed to be done. I think he’s done a fantastic job. You have to credit the entire staff and Schellas for adding some pieces to the puzzle. They did a good job of putting the team together. Now, hopefully the market will follow suit and start supporting them in the right way. Were the right opportunity to surface in MLS for you to either become a coach again or maybe as a technical director, would you be open to that?

Dir: I think I’ve always been open to moving into the management side. I’ve actually done some stuff for clubs more on a piecemeal scouting basis, stuff like that. Coaching wise, I don’t think that would happen. I guess the best thing I could say is if there was a technical director job out there and I thought it was the right situation from a club standpoint, I’d of course pursue it. There has been some I was interested in, but I’ve also been with the U-20s for a long time now and have not been in MLS. I think sometimes people perceive that as not knowing the league. When you’re out 10 years, it’s not like people are going to knock down your door.