FC Dallas unveiled their new head coach on Sunday, promoting respected academy director Luchi Gonzalez to replace Oscar Pareja after a lengthy search process that club officials said encompassed hundreds of inquiries from around the world.
Their final choice, originally reported by MLSsoccer.com, is a fitting one for a club which revolves around the concept of growing its own talent, having produced an MLS-record 23 Homegrown Players, the most recent of which have been groomed by Gonzalez and his staff in FCD’s renowned youth system.
“Luchi is an outstanding teacher, a smart tactician and has a keen understanding of what it takes to build a successful team,” said FCD chairman and CEO Clark Hunt in a club release. “We are excited about his passion for FC Dallas and his vision for the future of the club. Luchi had championship success with our academy and we’re confident he will build on that as a head coach in MLS.”
It’s the first senior professional coaching job for Gonzalez, who has overseen Dallas’ academy since 2015 and coached in it since 2012. He’s the second straight FCD head coach to have led the academy before taking over the first team, following in the footsteps of Pareja, who left FCD last month to take over Liga MX side Club Tijuana.
An attacking star at Dallas’ Southern Methodist University at the turn of the century, Gonzalez won the 2001 MAC Hermann Trophy – awarded to college soccer’s top player – before entering MLS as the sixth overall selection in the 2002 SuperDraft, picked by the San Jose Earthquakes. The Hialeah, Florida native also played for the Colorado Rapids and spent time overseas in Sweden and Peru before calling time on his playing days and moving into coaching.
Gonzalez first drew national attention for leading Dallas’ Under-15/16 team to back-to-back U.S. Soccer Development Academy national championships from 2014-16, led by crop of talent that included subsequent Homegrown signings Reggie Cannon, Jesus Ferreira, Paxton Pomykal and Bryan Reynolds. FCD’s U-17/18s also won a DA national championship in 2016.
In all, Gonzalez has coached 15 players who went on to become FCD Homegrowns. At age 38, he becomes the second-youngest head coach in MLS today, second only to Colorado's Anthony Hudson.