FRISCO, Texas - After the second day of preseason training at Toyota Soccer Center, head coach Luchi Gonzalez and club president Dan Hunt addressed the media to give their thoughts on the coming season.
While most were reluctant to say it, the 2019 season had all the hallmarks of a rebuilding year. A new head coach, a slew of new Homegrown signings and debutants meant the team underwent all the expected growing pains. Yet, the club qualified for the playoffs with one of the youngest teams in MLS history—only losing to the eventual MLS Cup champions.
Although the season ended in heartbreaking fashion, Luchi believes it wasn’t in vain.
“[Last year] was an evolution of the playing style,” Luchi said. “Myself and my staff got to know the players better over time and experienced ups and downs with them. We found a way to get to the playoffs and compete very well and eventually lose to the MLS champion. But it hurt. It hurt in a way that I have not had at this level or in my sports experience career. So, I think that allowed myself to go through a deep reflection where I’m very confident in how we’re working and how we’re playing football.
“I think we’re more prepared to go away or home and try to control the game with and without the ball. More of this total football idea. I think we really improved in our ball possession, our ball control. As the season went on, we were more effective going forward, penetrating, putting away chances. We were more efficient. But I think the opportunity that we have is to take this foundation that we have, that we worked hard last season to develop, and create more total football.”
Now with a foundation in place, Luchi and the front office can add pieces without upsetting the team’s basic principles. Among the new key additions – announced by president Hunt during the press conference – is Argentine striker Franco Jara, signed on a pre-contract from Pachuca in Liga MX.
“This is a massive signing for the club,” Hunt said. “When I saw Franco play against FC Dallas in 2017, I said if we ever get a chance to sign that soccer player, we’re going to bring him to FC Dallas—that’s a winner. And that’s the kind of guy we want here at this club and his production in Mexico since 2015 has been unbelievable. I'm thrilled he’ll be joining us.”
“He’s a proven goal scorer, he’s efficient,” Luchi said on his new forward. “He is a mobile No. 9 that helps in the build-up by moving into midfield—but in the box he’s very talented. He has a great instinct to get on the end of service, to create goals on his own with his resources on the dribble and in combination. Without the ball he is a pain for backlines in terms of pressure, transition and helping the team recover and get the ball back. I think this is a great opportunity for the club and for Jara.”
While Jara likely won’t be joining up with the team until the summer transfer window, fellow signings Fafa Picault from Philadelphia and Thiago Santos from Brazil will look to make an immediate impact come February. Their additions, plus the lessons learned from Luchi’s first season, give FC Dallas every reason to be optimistic for 2020.
“We have a foundation and now we have brought in the type of players that are going to help us win championships because that is the goal here,” Hunt said. “That’s what our fans deserve, that’s what our organization deserves and that’s what everybody who works so hard here deserves. And again, we’re thrilled to have Luchi here. We have a long-term relationship and to watch his growth here and see what he achieved in his first year, I think there are great things coming for this club.”