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What you need to know

FC Dallas part ways with Estévez

FC Dallas have parted ways with head coach Nico Estévez. Assistant coach Peter Luccin takes over as interim coach, while the search for a permanent replacement begins immediately.

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A change in Dallas

It’s like the league suddenly remembered it has a quota of yearly coach changes to reach. FC Dallas have parted ways with Nico Estévez to become the third team this season, and the third team in the last few weeks, to move on from their head coach.

This one comes after a mostly full-strength Dallas side went up to face a Minnesota United side missing multiple critical starters and contributing players that they couldn’t field a full bench and came out of it with a draw. They’re now on 14 points after 16 games and have a -7 goal differential.

Things have been trending downward since Dallas finished third in the West on 53 points in Estévez’s first season in 2022. In 2023, they finished seventh in the West with 46 points. That’s not terrible on its own, but you couldn’t decouple the team’s totally whatever results from the fact they were suffocatingly boring. They allowed the second-fewest goals in the West while scoring the third-fewest. Their scorelines from that season looked like binary code and they failed the entertainment value eye test.

To his credit, Estévez reportedly tried to correct that this offseason. Dallas shifted to a 3-4-2-1 in preseason and rumors started flying around Estévez wanted to shift this team to utilizing a game model reminiscent of Wilfried Nancy’s Crew, and the Crew are far from boring. Maybe, just maybe, Dallas could utilize their exciting attacking pieces - including new club-record DP signing Petar Musa - and become one the league’s more interesting teams.

Injuries to players like Paxton Pomykal and Jesús Ferreira, a lack of execution and just general regression from players derailed that idea almost immediately. Dallas were back into a 4-2-3-1 by their fourth game. After a couple of fruitless games there, they were back using three center backs. Regardless of formation, nothing really improved. And nothing looked like Nancy-ball. They weren’t just boring, they were bad, too.

Even when things started to go right, they found a way to go wrong. The draw against Minnesota’s C-Team counts as the final nail in the coffin, but that thing has been shut tight since Dallas went up 3-0 on Real Salt Lake at home in late May and then gave up three goals after the 60th minute. They followed that up with back-to-back losses to the LA sides and a continued retreat back to the bottom of the standings. Fourteen points through 16 games is the second-worst start in club history.

In short: It seemed time for a change.

Of course, as in nearly every case with a manager departure, we have to consider the makeup of the roster. Dallas have shown a willingness to spend by bringing in players like Musa, but the rest of the roster doesn’t match up with the best in the league. When you add in a season-ending injury to Pomykal and the long-term absence of young DP Alan Velasco, plus minor injuries to Ferreira and others, it’s tough to put everything on Estévez.

This feels like the time to start correcting those issues. Moving on from Estévez should signal the start of a roster refresh. Bring in some new pieces, exchange some folks who have been around a while, and see if you can put a team together that can be a bit more dynamic and can get Musa the kind of service to turn him into the 20-goals-a-year guy it seems like he can be.

That’s easier said than done, of course. But you have to start somewhere, right? Yesterday felt like step one of a big shift in Dallas.

Full Time

Good luck out there. Move up the ladder quickly.