FC Dallas filled its head coaching vacancy on Monday when it removed the interim title from Steve Morrow and named him as its fourth head coach in team history. Morrow was an assistant to former Hoops head coach Colin Clarke each of the last two seasons and also spent two years in Dallas as a defender in 2002 and 2003.
"In Steve (Morrow), we found a head coach who is a great leader and who has played for some of the great head coaches in the world," said FCD president and general manager Michael Hitchcock. "He has won championships at the highest level, which is saying something. He knows what it takes to build a good locker room and to lead a talented roster to become a great team."
Morrow was ecstatic upon being named FCD's new field boss. "I am thrilled, honored and immensely proud to be named head coach of what I believe to be the leading organization in MLS," he said. "I see this day as a new beginning and fresh start for everyone involved with this team. The role of an assistant coach can at times be a frustrating one. I welcome this opportunity to fully express myself as a coach.
"I have a clear view of where I want to take this team," he continued. "I believe that we have an extremely talented group of players, of whom I am extremely proud. With a few adjustments and additions to be made, I feel we are on the brink of great things."
FCD comes off a 2006 season that saw them set a club record for points with 52, win their first-ever regular season Western Conference title and finish just three points back in the race for the MLS Supporters' Shield.
But as is always the case, playoff performance dictates how a season is characterized and for the second consecutive year, the higher-seeded Hoops fell to Colorado on penalty kicks. It was a bitter end to the season for FCD, who had dreams of playing for the 2006 MLS Cup on their home field.
The playoff demise sealed the fate of Clarke, who was relieved of head coaching duties the week of MLS Cup. Morrow took over the reins of the team on an interim basis and he worked closely with Hitchcock on a number of personnel matters, including orchestrating a trade of disgruntled all-star midfielder Ronnie O'Brien to Toronto FC last month.
Some have questioned if the hiring of Morrow really signals a new direction for FCD, especially since he worked under Clarke for the last two seasons and also because he worked closely with the Hoops back line last year, a unit that wasn't the most solid group in the league. But both Hitchcock and Morrow did all they could to squash any thoughts that Morrow's style would be similar to that of Clarke.
"Steve and Colin were very different coaches," Hitchcock said. "They were a great team, a great tandem and complemented each other very well. But when you look at how they approached the game, they approached the game very differently. Steve is a different type of coaching who is going to lead the team differently."
Morrow promises a litany of changes almost immediately.
"At all times, I will expect and demand the highest standard of professionalism both on and off the field, a hard-working team ethic, an attractive attacking style of play and a winning mentality," he said. "A combination of these qualities will help bring success that this team and organization deserve.
"I feel like we need to add a physical, aggressive element to our team. My style is that I like speed of play, fast movements and simple passing. I will make sure that all the players who are here will have those elements that I look for."
While complementary of last year's side, Morrow did admit that there are some things that need to be improved upon.
"It's a winning mentality that we need to install in this team right from the start," he said. "I've been involved in championship teams with Arsenal and know what's involved and what ingredients are needed. I thought we had a talented bunch of players last year. But to be honest, we weren't the best team in the league and that showed in the playoff game. That's something I will look to address as we go forward."
Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.