MLS 🔵 A transcript of FC Dallas’ post-Nico Estevez era press conference – Shango Media
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MLS 🔵 A transcript of FC Dallas’ post-Nico Estevez era press conference

Editor’s Note: It’s Drew here. I figured I would kick this off a bit since the press conference with Dan Hunt and Andre Zanotta just ended to paint a bit of a picture here with this post. I’ve put a couple of quick nuggets on Twitter, but I don’t plan to do much else there (we’re fairly quiet on that platform anymore).

This morning, Hunt and Zanotta spoke to Dallas media following Nico Estevez’s dismissal. I wanted you to have the full context of their most important quotes without having to view them in paraphrased formats. They are pooled below and have been lightly edited for clarity.

I will dive into these things a bit more either later today (if time permits) or tomorrow.

You could also watch the full press conference yourself. There is no harm in doing that, either. I know I didn’t touch everything that was in their press conference below.

Hunt: The time was now for a change. We have 18 games left in the regular season, and plenty of teams throughout the history of MLS have shown that being below the playoff line right now doesn’t matter. It’s about getting into the playoffs, and several have won the MLS Cup.

So, we needed a change in the environment and mentality. And also, to let the new staff of Peter Luccin is running it enough time to make those changes. Also, we’re in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup quarterfinals, three games, and you can lift a trophy there and all the great things that come with that. Lastly, we had a ton of success in the League Cup last year. And so that’s a new tournament, with a new format when we get there. And we wanted to make sure Peter had enough time to implement his tactics, strategy, environment, and culture so that we could win in that tournament. This gives that staff, Peter, and the people he’s bringing on ample opportunity to change where we are right now and have a lot of success.

Zanotta: Peter was at least the right choice for us. Peter represents this club. He’s been here for such a long time. He knows well what it takes, and he knows the values of the club and what it takes to win things here. He worked with different coaches and assistant coaches; it was just his moment. I feel it’s the moment he has to bring those players and take our team to the level that we expect this team to play to, to a better position. We have so many talents in the locker room. Peter worked with many of them from a very young age. Peter knows a lot of our young players; our homegrown players have worked with him since their Academy days.

Peter understands the game very well. He has experience playing in MLS and working, as I said, with Oscar, with Lucci, and now with Nico. And just the excitement. Obviously, he had a very good relationship with Nico, but he feels excited about the opportunity, and we trust him that he can do a great job moving forward.

Hunt: Yeah, I would think so. With a healthy Alan Velasco, right? You know we were missing part of our salary cap for the first part of the season. Jesus, Alan, Paxton, Sebastian Lletget, Geovane. We’ve been missing a ton of our payroll and a lot of our most talented players. I think if we’re 100% healthy, it would be an incredible roster. The 2016 team was an amazing team, and the players had really special performances. You need those special performances; it can’t just be about talent. Players have to truly excel, right?

It’s always difficult to say, right? If we had a number of those players back, would they have changed the results, or was it just time for a change in environment and change in mentality? So hard, hard to say we believe we talked about a little bit earlier. We have a lot more goals in us than we’ve scored this year. Petar can score, Jesus can score, Paul can score. Eugene, we believe, has goals in him. And Bernard, we have a lot of players, but they have not experienced their best moments right now.

On player decisions:

Hunt: We’re gonna leave the decisions to Peter. And I think you may see some formations changing and shifting. You know, given our personnel, we are also, I mean, Andre mentioned it, we were relying on Paxton to help us out. There are a number of talented players, but I think Peter is going to bring a very fresh look to this and how he plays.

On improving goal scoring:

It’s not lost on anybody here; the goals, you know, the expected goals per game is the most telling statistic, right? That is something that has to change immediately because, again, we have guys who can put the ball on the back of the net, but we also have to create those opportunities. And Peter is laser-focused on increasing our expected goals per game.

What has made this club so successful in the last couple of years is being able to score enough goals and defend well. We’ve been one of the best defenses in the league, and I think if we go back to our roots of defending well and Creating chances, we’ll climb right back up the table.

We weren’t trending the right way. The obvious conclusion was that one of the biggest things we’ve got to fix immediately is the goal-scoring nature of things. And you know, we discussed it and spent time on this. We have the players who can do it. They’ve historically done it, and we were not changing in a way to provide those opportunities and create those opportunities. And you know, our defense was not where it had been the last two years. And so we just felt like maybe a new, fresh face, new thoughts, and maybe a new energy for the group would help revitalize them because there were a lot of great players there. I mean, I was looking around the locker room this morning, and there’s a ton of talent. I just don’t think we’re at our best moment.

And we went, you know, a number of games into the season, when 16 games into the season are in most places, in most leagues, it’s maybe four or six or eight games, as you well know, but we believed in Nico. You’re right. There were two unbelievable seasons of playoffs, a lot of excitement, drama, and great things, and we’re so thankful. But you know, 18 games in, we weren’t close to where we needed to be.

Zanotta: The first thing we asked Peter, he wanted to obviously, we know the assistant coach has a position of trust that he wants to be learning to work with. The first name he mentioned right away when we talked with him was John Gall. He has known John Gall for a long time. John is doing a fabulous job with North Texas. It was not an easy decision for us and for John to take him from that position, but John, I spoke with John yesterday, and he really feels it’s a great opportunity for him to help Peter to be around the first team, and it’s a next step for him.

Who will take over NTSC:

Michel has been the assistant coach since day one of North Texas, so now it’s his chance. We’re leading the league, and he’s been with John for almost a year now. We trust that they can lead the team all the way.

Hunt: We wanted to make sure Peter had a long enough audition and enough opportunity because this would be a drastic change, but this is his audition. He’s ready for it. He’s been ready for this moment. He aspired to be a head coach in MLS, so this is a great opportunity. There are 18 matches left, the US Open Cup quarterfinals and the League Cup.

Hunt: We had a very comprehensive process last time. When we hired Nico, we had coaches, international coaches, and coaches who understood the league. It was a very wide search. It will be a global search. The number of candidates we went through last time was really amazing. This is a job that a lot of people want to have. This is a major market club with a great history that produces so many national team talents. I think there’s a lot of interest in this job. We want the best candidate possible, and we may already have that with Peter. He understands the club. We do want somebody who understands the culture; it is critical for us to develop young players. We must develop players for the US national team, but we also want to win.

What is great about Major League Soccer’s growth is that there are now so many coaching candidates who understand MLS.

Zanotta: Here at the club, it is never what I want or the coach wants. It is never what the director of scouting once it’s a combination of what the club wants. We sit down. We always sit down. This was with Lucci. This was with Nico, and this will be with Peter. And now, with the addition of Sandro as well, with all the experience he has working, he was a scout, and he brings a lot of experience with that for us. So we sit down. We filter the discussion with with Nico before and now with Peter. What are the main needs we have for this window? They start bringing, we filter the profiles. We decide three, four. We present to the coach. We all decide together who’s the plan, A, B, C, and then it’s my job to try to make it happen and to bring the players.

So it’s a collective decision. It’s not going to be Peter, it’s not going to be me, but it’s going to be a combination of what we all believe is best for the club moving forward, the type of player that we need to bring to raise the team’s level.

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