Luchi Gonzalez points - FC Dallas
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FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez: We want to be the best at developing Homegrown players

The rise of Tanner Tessmann may have been unexpected for some, but for FC Dallas and head coach Luchi Gonzalez, it's just another example of the club's youth-oriented philosophy in action.

FC Dallas has long been considered one of the best cultivators of young talent in all of MLS, with players such as Paxton Pomykal, Reggie Cannon, Jesus Ferreira and Brandon Servania all representing Homegrown players on the current first-team roster and that have become some of the most talented young prospects in the league. In the case of the 18-year-old Tessmann, who signed a Homegrown deal with the first team just before the start of the 2020 season, FC Dallas didn't just have to ward off Clemson University, where Tessmann had committed to play soccer and football. They had to convince Tessmann that signing with his hometown club was the best first step in his pro career over heading overseas, where Tessmann said on Tuesday he'd drawn interest.

Speaking with reporters on a Wednesday conference call, Gonzalez said that each player's individual situation is different, but that the club puts an emphasis on creating a culture that will compel Homegrown players to view playing for FC Dallas as a launching point for whatever future aspirations they may have. 

"No matter what happens these are all sons of the club and we love them," Gonzalez said. "There’s different pathways for every player. We would love for players to be in our pro pathway when they’re given the opportunities they have earned. Maybe it doesn’t always work out like that but our efforts and our convictions are always going to be that players want to be in our pathway and that our pathway can lead them to the elite level, potentially overseas and the senior national teams, which you’re seeing with some of our young guys in the case of Paxton or Reggie or Jesus, even Brandon Servania got called into a camp at a young age.  We’ve got guys in the U-20s and U-23s that I think can have a future in the senior teams."

It isn't always easy. Gonzalez said in this era teams have to contend with agents coming into the picture for players around the world at increasingly young ages, which might influence their decision making. Factors like that mean the club has to adapt to the reality that some players might be looking for opportunities outside MLS earlier, but he feels FC Dallas has made a point of staying in step with that evolution.

"Players coming through the academy that are doing well, they’re going to get attention," Gonzalez said. "I think agents are more involved now than ever at these younger ages. You’ve got 13-14 year olds with agents talking to the player and to the family, for right or wrong. I hear that even in Europe it’s kind of unprecedented how young the influence is with young players and agents. But that’s the way it is, that’s the way it’s evolved and we have to adapt.

"I think what we’ve done well to adapt over the years is to provide different pathways," he added. "I think having good relationships and having good pathways and good communication and honest conversations and honest feedback and maintaining those things month to month are really important in making sure we’re going in the right direction, both the club and all the players that we're developing."

It's all part of the club's ultimate goal, Gonzalez said, which is to be the standard of the league when it comes to providing a pathway for its youth players to make the first-team roster, and allow them to use it to push themselves to their highest level, whether it's in MLS or elsewhere.

"FC Dallas, for us, it’s very clear what our mission statement is as a club: It’s to be the best in development of our own Homegrown players opportunities in our first team that are earned and to develop players and people to have professional careers in soccer through FC Dallas," he said. "That’s really important to us."

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