FRISCO, Texas — The 2019 season has concluded for FC Dallas after suffering a first-round playoff defeat to the Seattle Sounders, 4-3, in overtime. FC Dallas had the youngest roster in MLS with a first-year head coach who gave the second-most amount of minutes to Homegrown players — only trailing Real Salt Lake.
The season had its ups and downs, but the highs were significant. The team was developing its own identity and style of play throughout the year — something that will only continue to improve moving forward.
To wrap up 2019, we caught up with different members of the media who cover FC Dallas — including Carlos Alvarado, the Spanish voice of FC Dallas, The Dallas Morning News's Jon Arnold, ProSoccerUSA's Arman Kafai, and FC Dallas broadcasters, Mark Followill and Steve Davis.
This Roundtable discussion will be split up into six parts — each one going over different topics. First up, the media will grade this season's coaching staff.
If you could grade the coaching staff this season, what would you give them?
Carlos Alvarado: Luchi and his staff did an extraordinary job . It will be better next year, I give them an "A".
Jon Arnold: I'll go with a B. It's their very first year as professional staff, and they put tactical foundation in place for this team to build on for years to come. They also made the playoffs, their stated goal. That said, they got in as the last seed in the playoffs and didn't put themselves in a great position to advance - nor did they move on in the Open Cup when they were up against a team from a lower league. The first five years of their tenure will be defined by trophies. They're on a good path toward winning something, but ultimately get docked a letter grade because that case is still bare after year one.
: It was a great year for Luchi and the staff he constructed; I outlined all the reasons here
. In a nutshell, the league’s youngest manager (for most of the year) took the league’s youngest roster into the playoffs. Mark that down as “Mission Accomplished.” Further, the team came within a whisker of beating Seattle in the playoffs – quite a potential achievement considering the Sounders’ sensational record in home games and huge advantage in playoff experience. Did Luchi learn lessons in his first year in charge? Of course he did – and he would be the first to say so. He’ll be even better in 2020.
Arman Kafai: B+. Look, it's the first year for this coaching staff and it for sure had a learning curve involved. There were some bumps and bruises while trying to discover an identity for the team, but one thing I really liked was that they never gave up on the overall philosophy of the team and acknowledged that even in wins, such as the 2-1 victory over Atlanta United, they didn't play to the standards and style that they set. Coach Luchi Gonzalez and his staff helped bring in so much youth and helped them succeed as well, not letting them flounder and having the youth be vital parts of the team. For a team that prides itself on development as FC Dallas does, that is massive. I think in-game adjustments could be worked on for next season but it's the first year for a first-time professional coach. Luchi Gonzalez did an excellent job.
Mark Followill: A. I think Luchi Gonzalez deserves an A because it was his first season as a professional coach after his successful time at the Academy. He took a roster that was less talented than the season before and the youngest in MLS, and reached the playoffs. The team was perhaps one different attacking decision late in normal time from advancing out of the opening round. Luchi would be the first to say he learned a lot of valuable lessons and grew a lot during the season, but by any fair measure it was a successful season and warrants an A for Luchi.