Draft Room Behind the Scenes
FCDallas/Jessica Tobias

An Insider's Look at FC Dallas During the 2020 MLS SuperDraft

FRISCO, Texas — With 30 minutes until the start of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, FC Dallas head Coach Luchi Gonzalez panned between his notes at the table and the whiteboards that sat in the team’s draft room. One of the whiteboards had the list of players who were eligible for the draft, and the other had the draft order with team names assigned to each pick.

The room was relatively silent. Director of Soccer Operations, Marco Ferruzzi, was to Gonzalez’s right, and President Dan Hunt sat to the head coach’s left. His assistant coaches were aligned diagonally at the table from him, right in front of the whiteboard he looked meticulously at.

As the clock ticked closer to the 11:30 a.m. CT start time, more people began to file into the draft room. This was the first year the draft was completely online, streamed through Twitter, YouTube and the ESPN App. The FC Dallas big board was awaiting to be picked apart once Inter Miami CF was on the clock for the first pick of the SuperDraft. Miami submitted its first pick, selecting Clemson’s Robbie Robinson, and the draft was officially underway.

The first name on the big board was put into place next to the corresponding club. The same thing happened within the next nine picks, and afterwards, debating began at the table.

The draft was inching closer and closer to FC Dallas’ two picks at No. 14 and No. 17. The coaching staff along with Dan and Clark Hunt — the owners of the franchise — and Technical Director Andre Zanotta had big decisions to make within the following 20 or so minutes. The group had narrowed down its selection to a few players, and all that was needed was to envision them in the team’s future.

Luchi Gonzalez discusses his options with Player Operations Coordinator, Davor Bezich.

Gonzalez looked intensely at his whiteboard, and he turned to his assistant along with the team owners to ask them for their opinions. He made sure he got every opinion into the conversation so they wouldn’t miss a single detail from any of the prospects they were looking at.

Ferruzzi was a big part of the process. The scouting he’s done for the club in its history has reaped many benefits, and FC Dallas has been able to enjoy success in the draft within the past few years. The club was ranked the No. 1 successful team at the SuperDraft in the past decade by MLS. A lot of the credit goes to Ferruzzi’s ability to scout players and find the ones that can find success at the next level.

Thursday was another chance for him to find that next Matt Hedges, Ryan Hollingshead or Tesho Akindele — all key contributors to FC Dallas during the past decade.

“Profé, what do you think?” Luchi asked Ferruzzi before making the 14th pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft. FC Dallas selected Nkosi Burgess from Seattle University. FC Dallas got a center back who can play on the left side.

Marco Ferruzzi looks at Luchi Gonzalez and the whiteboard in the draft room.

The two’s trust in each other was shown, and that was the biggest takeaway from Thursday’s draft — the trust Gonzalez has with his staff and the people around him. Every one of his assistants had a say during the draft. Every opinion was noted, and every opinion mattered. Before the 17th pick, Gonzalez called upon North Texas SC Eric Quill at moments — wanting to know what the USL League One Coach of the Year had to say about each prospect.

Gonzalez turned to his coaching staff and looked at them intensely. With a stern look but soft tone, he reminded them of how important they were going to be in their draft picks’ futures.

Assistant coaches Peter Luccin (Left) and Mikey Varas (Right) look at the whiteboard in the draft room.

“It’s up to us whether these kids make it,” he said. The staff nodded in agreement, and Gonzalez told Ferruzzi to make the pick official.

Ferruzzi turned his attention to the speaker that sat in front of him at the table. Without taking his eyes away from the dial, he informed MLS that FC Dallas would be selecting Cal Jennings from Central Florida with the 17th pick of the MLS SuperDraft.

The room celebrated accordingly, and everyone shook hands with one another. Zanotta punched 10 numbers into his phone, and Jennings picked up on the other end.

He passed the phone to the Hunt brothers and then Gonzalez, who were ecstatic with their pick.

FC Dallas ended up selecting Manuel Ferriol with its 40th pick in the second round of the draft to complete the 2020 draft class. The team got who it wanted — all three of them. The same names that laid in the middle of the whiteboard at the beginning of the day.