FC Dallas have become a model of success when it comes to developing players through their academy, giving them first-team minutes and selling those homegrowns to European suitors.
But success on the field, in terms of wins and loses, has been lacking in 2021, which led to the decision to part ways with head coach Luchi Gonzalez last Sunday.
What’s the next step for FC Dallas? Will there be a philosophical change? Will there be a ripple effect throughout MLS? Can #PlayYourKids, sell your kids and winning go hand in hand?
These are among the questions posed in the latest Extratime episode, leaving co-host Calen Carr concerned about a shift to the mentality of playing a veteran over a young player to get a needed result.
“The thing that does worry me a little bit is does this have a chilling effect on managers playing young players in MLS,” Carr said. “… If you’re a new manager coming into FC Dallas and you take this job and you’re hovering right around the playoff line and you have to make a tough decision on whether to play a young player from the academy and give them an opportunity or do you want to play a veteran to save your job – that’s what’s happened in the history of MLS in the past. That’s the MLS I played in.”
Carr said the expectation of being a leading selling club in MLS and being near the top of the table is somewhat unrealistic, especially when a club struggles with incoming signings in the transfer market.
“You can’t have it both ways and for me, FC Dallas is falling a little bit into that category of saying, 'We want to sell these players, we want to change the model, but we also want this other thing where we have to be winning all the time regardless of who we’ve moved on from,'” Carr said.
Another club that has become a model of youth development is the Philadelphia Union, who won the 2020 Supporters’ Shield with big contributions from since-transferred US men's national teamers Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie. Now, they're barely above the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs line in the Eastern Conference after both players made the move to Europe.
“We’re not at the point yet where you can sell players on and not adjust your expectations and expect to continue to rise,” Carr said, adding, “For me, Luchi fell into a little bit of this trap where he was expected to be continuing to make progress on the field, but then the definition for success was different internally.”
You can watch the entire Extratime episode here.