FC Dallas has stated the FC Dallas is in full swing on interviewing and looking for the new FC Dallas coach. My colleague took a look at three possible coaches that take the reins of FC Dallas. While many anxiously await coming of the new coach, I can’t help but think about the impact that Papi had had on this team.
Here are some thoughts.
Obviously, the team is impacted. Pareja has been the coach for the last 5 seasons and in that time, we saw the emergence of Matt Hedges into a dominant MLS defender. Victor Ulloa got a second chance at his career when Pareja came back as a head coach and he’s turned into a club icon. We say Kellyn Acosta become the USMNT player that he is today. Walker Zimmerman grew under the tutelage of Papi, Fabian Castillo, Mickey Barrios, Mauro Diaz, Maxi Urruti, Jesse Gonzalez, and Carlos Gruezo all emerged under the guidance of Papi. The academy grew into the dominant force that it is today with the coaching and guidance of Papi. It turns out quality players every season with Reggie Cannon being the most recent success.
It is going to be hard to replace the impact that Papi had on the academy and the development of players: two things that Oscar is well known for. It seems that the Academy will be fine under the helms of Luchi Gonzalez who is also linked with the head coach job so the quality of the academy might be much to worry about.
What will be impacted more by the head coach (depending on who is the new coach) is the signing of players from the Academy. Papi was notorious for keeping a very watchful eye over the Academy and some future prospects. This helped get our best players on contract to avoid a losing out on players. While the new USL team will help with that, it will be a point to watch for on how much the new coach will sign Academy players. Additionally, Academy players will wonder if how likely that they will get signed. This could be a good thing as they might see it that they really have to work hard and standout to impress the new coach to get a contract. Of course, this is all thought.
Similarly, some players must really be thinking about what this means. The first player that comes to mind is Pablo Aranguiz. I can only imagine what he is thinking. He came to this team at 21 years old where LAFC tried signing him in the winter, and is considered one of the hottest Latin American prospects and dubbed as the Diaz replacement. I’m sure that he knows that Papi is known for developing players and now Papi isn’t here. The same can be said for Mosquera who turns 24 in February. I’m sure that the ability of Papi developing players was a selling point to transfer targets that the club had.
Victor Ulloa must be wondering what his future will look like with the team as he has found a spot in Oscar’s system. Could he find himself back on the bench or eventually out of the team? Carlos Gruezo found his return to the Ecuadorian National team because of the role that he had under Pareja. Though I personally think that it is time cash in on Gruezo because he has the talent to make a return to Europe it will be interesting to see if this further motivates a move for Gruezo. The ability for former players may now be further closed as Papi was known for always willing to help out former players. One player that I have been rather high on is former homegrown Alex Zendejas who has been finding his footing in Liga MX and Ascenso MX as a winger for Chivas.
Naturally, the team identity and play will be different. No longer will we see the dependence on the 4-2-3-1 (assuming the next coach plays a different system) or the attack coming from the wings. How will the players and fans react to this? The players are professionals and I would think that they are willing to adapt to a coach’s system. Though some may see the door if they aren’t in the coach’s plans.
I’m sure many (myself included) want to see more of the “kids” and that is something that I bet the Front Office is looking for as well. If “playing the kids” is the model that the Hunt’s were going for, I think that Papi was the perfect coach for that. For years we have been hearing about “The FC Dallas Academy” as a gloried factoring pumping out great players and this is true. The Hunt’s goal is to one day field an 11 of nothing but homegrowns and that is something that we as fans would thoroughly enjoy to see. With all the recent homegrown signing, it feels like that the “Era of the Academy” is here and almost here. The new question now is, who is going to usher in that era with all these great kids coming in?
The era of Papi is over and arguably the Hunt’s best business decision has made one of his own. It is now down to the Front Office to find a coach that matches the image of this club or a coach that can change the image of the club and make it a better one. 2019 might be an adjustment season and playoffs may not be something that we can expect. Or maybe they take us to the playoffs just like how Papi did his first season here. Only time can tell.
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