A sea of emotions for FC Dallas Coach Luchi Gonzalez

FC Dallas’ withdrawal from the MLS is Back Tournament was not how the team was hoping to leave Orlando. FC Dallas Head Luchi Gonzalez will arguably be one of the most disappointed by the inability to compete.  

Coach Gonzalez has been through a chaotic time since the first positive cases appeared in Orlando and after being given the news that his team will not be able to compete, it has to hurt in a different way than what he has experienced before as head coach.

“As we continue to focus on the well-being of our players, coaches, and staff who are in isolation in Orlando, we understand it is not in their best interests to compete at this time,” said Coach Gonzalez. “While we’re disappointed, the health and safety of our traveling delegation as well as our league partners is our highest priority.”

Luchi Gonzalez speaking with players during training (Courtesy FC Dallas)

Luchi Gonzalez is a cheerful and calm individual who is more than happy to talk to anyone. During the FC Dallas Luchi Gonzalez Show with Kevin and Cory, on Thursday, July 1, Luchi Gonzalez sounded a bit more concerned, and understandably so given his players were suffering from COVID-19.

“It’s been a tough few days and I haven’t left my room. It’s a lot of isolation and you get to reflect. The first thing is to own it, to own this moment. We are were excited to be a part of this event and in a strange way, we still are because we have the belief that we are going to get through this. Obviously, the secondary thought is the competition, but the primary [concern] is the recovery of our people and their families. It’s frustrating but at the same time we can’t control what has already happened, we have to keep learning and doing the best that we can with what is in front of us.”

Kevin Hageland and Cory Mageors are the hosts of the FC Dallas Luchi Gonzalez show and they got the opportunity to ask Coach Gonzalez what his experience was like in Orlando. After Luchi had left the call, Hageland was quick to comment on the change of mood over the air.  

“It’s not exactly the same tone as some of our previous interviews [with Luchi Gonzalez] but for some very good reasons,” Hageland said of Gonzalez’s tone. “He could’ve dropped out of the interview today and I appreciate that he jumped on and there were some really fascinating answers right that from that it’s not up to him and they could still be in the tournament but they also might not be in the tournament.”

Coach Gonzalez and his team, at the time of the radio show, were suffering with nine players and a member of the coaching staff testing positive and were unsure about the future of their squad members and staff.

As it would later be made know, FC Dallas was about to be removed from the tournament, and Gonzalez’s mind was on the health and well-being of his players.

It’s true what Kevin said about Gonzalez’s tone. It was clear that Luchi had plenty on his mind and is concerned for his team. Coach Gonzalez is one who will always defend his players and staff and support them in everything that they do.

Even during Coach Gonzalez’s post-match press-conference after a disappointing loss, the amount of disappointment and nervousness is nothing like what was heard during his radio show. Come Monday, July 6, FC Dallas’ fate in the MLS is Back Tournament was sealed: they had been withdrawn from the tournament by the league.

During Coach Gonzalez’s conference call with media, his tone had shifted to a more pensive and passionate style. On the Zoom call, it showed that Gonzalez’s mind was on the wellbeing of his players and staff and he was thinking about their wellbeing.

“I would say a few days ago that the squad was feeling, you know, really hurt by the situation, and helpless,” Gonzalez said when asked how the team was doing. “And there’s anxiety, and there’s stress, and there’s a concern for each other – for each other more than the game.”

Oscar Pareja was affectionately called “Papi” around the club during his time at FC Dallas. Similarly, Gonzalez is a father to his players and staff. He’s a family man and does his best to connect and care for everyone that he meets on a personal basis.

Gonzalez wants to stay connected with his group and it showed when he said, “Zoom has helped us stay connected. It’s hard because when you’re in person, there’s energies and, you know, I’m a hugger. I haven’t been able to hug any of these players for five months, and that hurts me as a leader. But I’m going to hug them in a different way.”

On top of the emotional investment that Gonzalez has in his team, he’s also enamored with the job. Luchi has a very strong passion and love for the game that becomes evident in every training session that he runs. He loves to get his tactics set for each game and is very reflective of his team’s performance after every match.

It’s without a doubt that Luchi and his staff spent an enormous effort in preparing for the MLS is Back Tournament. “

I’m disappointed but proud of our guys for stepping up and wanting to play in this tournament,” FC Dallas President Dan Hunt said of this team. “The amount of effort that Luchi and his staff put into this [tournament], our players that worked so incredibly hard, and I know that they’re disappointed to not play in the tournament.”

Hearing Gonzalez explain how he wishes to give his group something as simple as a hug highlights just how much he and his squad are struggling as a result of the pandemic.

While FC Dallas is no longer playing in the MLS is Back Tournament, the pandemic has still taken its toll on the coaching staff, players, and club, as they attempted to, provides fans an escape from our different world. Let’s hope for the safety and health of the club as they make their way back home.

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