What’s next for FC Dallas after exit of Coach

FC Dallas has parted ways with head coach Nico Estévez. Assistant coach Peter Luccin takes over as temporary coach, with the search for a permanent replacement beginning immediately.

A change in Dallas

It’s as if the league suddenly realized it had a quota of yearly coach changes to meet. FC Dallas has parted ways with Nico Estévez, becoming the third side this season and the third in recent weeks to replace their head coach.

This comes after a mostly full-strength Dallas team went up against a Minnesota United team that was missing so many crucial starters and contributing players that they couldn’t field a full bench and only managed a draw. They now have 14 points after 16 games, with a -7 goal differential.

Dallas has been heading downward since finishing third in the West with 53 points in Estévez’s debut season in 2022. In 2023, they finished eighth in the West, with 46 points. That isn’t bad on its own, but you couldn’t separate the team’s performance from the fact that they were suffocatingly monotonous. They conceded the second-fewest goals in the West and scored the third-fewest. Their scorelines from that season resembled binary code, and therefore failed the entertainment value eye test.

To his credit, Estévez apparently attempted to address it during the offseason. Dallas switched to a 3-4-2-1 in preseason, and reports began to circulate that Estévez planned to change the team’s game model to one akin of Wilfried Nancy’s Crew, which is far from dull. Maybe, just maybe, Dallas can use their exciting attacking players, especially new club-record DP signing Petar Musa, to become one of the league’s most intriguing teams.

Injuries to players like Paxton Pomykal and Jesús Ferreira, poor execution, and overall player decline quickly ruined the notion. Dallas’ fourth game saw them return to a 4-2-3-1 formation. After a couple of unsuccessful games, they went back to three center backs. Regardless of formation, nothing significantly improved. And nothing resembled Nancy-ball. They were not only boring, but also awful.

Even when things began to go well, they discovered a way to go wrong. The tie against Minnesota’s C-Team is the final nail in the coffin, but the door has been locked tight since Dallas led 3-0 at home against Real Salt Lake in late May and then conceded three goals after the 60th minute. They followed that up with back-to-back losses to the Los Angeles teams and a continuous slide to the bottom of the standings. Fourteen points in 16 games is the second-worst start in club history.

In short, it appeared like it was time for a change.

Of course, as with nearly every manager resignation, we must analyze the roster’s makeup. Dallas has demonstrated a willingness to spend by bringing in players such as Musa, but the remainder of the roster does not compete with the best in the league. When you consider Pomykal’s season-ending injury, the long-term absence of promising DP Alan Velasco, as well as minor injuries to Ferreira and others, it’s difficult to blame everything on Estévez.

It appears that the moment has come to address those difficulties. Moving on from Estévez should be the beginning of a roster refresh. Bring in some new pieces, swap out some veterans, and see if you can put together a team that is a little more dynamic and can provide Musa with the kind of service that will convert him into the 20-goal-a-year person he appears to be.

Obviously, this is easier said than done. But you need to start somewhere, right? Yesterday felt like the beginning of a major shift in Dallas.






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