FRISCO, Texas – It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Franco Jara – who signed a pre-contract with FC Dallas in January – joined his new teammates for training today at Toyota Soccer Center.
The former Pachuca and Argentina forward is quite possibly the most anticipated signing in club history. And it’s no secret why. Jara was among the best goal scorers in Mexico during his five seasons with Pachuca, netting 83 times in 169 games overall—as FC Dallas fans will already know. In the 2017 Concacaf Champions League semifinal, Jara scored twice over two legs to knockout Dallas on the way to the final and Golden Ball award for the tournament’s best player. Now, three years later, he’s the highest paid player in FC Dallas history.
“The truth is I’m very happy to be a part of this team and this family,” Jara said. “I was very anxious to come and participate in training sessions with my teammates. So more than anything, it’s a time to enjoy and continue working. It’s a very good team with good teammates and experienced players. I hope to get in shape as soon as possible so that I can be at Luchi’s disposal."
Jara will turn 32 next month but he’s far from over the hill. Jara ranked as 5th top scorer with seven goals from 10 games in Liga MX before the 2020 Clausura season was cut short due to COVID-19. Although he just arrived, Jara will be eligible to compete in the MLS is Back Tournament next month in Orlando, pending a P-1 Visa and an International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
“Franco’s got a lot of experience and personality,” said head coach Luchi Gonzalez. “He’s a very confident person and wants to affect the game but he’s also very respectful and he wants to be a good teammate. He’s got the human and player qualities that will help us take the next step and compete in this league.
“He’s been integrated socially in the Zoom meetings and there’s already been some banter which has been natural. Today was an opportunity to present him in person but it almost feels like he’s been here for a while. It honestly did feel like that and the players showed that and that’s what kind of group we are with embracing someone new and integrating them quickly.”
Assuming Jara gets his visa and ITC in the coming weeks, what will his role be once things get going in Orlando? Jara hasn’t played a game since mid-March and – while he scored two goals in that match – it’s a long layoff without consistent training to bridge the gap. Basically, the next few weeks will determine how much of a factor he’ll be in Florida.
“He’s still getting his fitness, getting rhythm and confidence,” Luchi added. “He hasn’t played an active game – like all of us – but he hasn’t been in some of the team trainings like we’ve been doing. He’s had to do a lot on his own but he’s working hard and it looks like he’s got a good foundation and we’re just going to take it very carefully. One step at a time to make sure he’s integrated without risking injury but also giving him the opportunity to help the group as soon as possible.”