On Friday afternoon, Clark Hunt was front and center at Toyota Stadium flanked by the Kansas City Chiefs’ recently-won Lombardi Trophy, FC Dallas’ most recent US Open Cup trophy, and North Texas SC’s championship hardware from winning the 2019 USL League one title.
Many of the questions were football-related, but there was also some soccer discussed. And since this is a soccer site, here are the soccer-related portions of this presser.
Opening statement from Clark Hunt
Hunt: “We’re excited about the start of the new soccer season. The job that Luchi Gonzalez and his staff have done with the team has been tremendous and we look forward to getting that season going next week.”
“This is the 25th year, of course, of Major League Soccer and FC Dallas has had some tremendous success over the years – winning the Open Cup a couple of times and also winning the Supporter’s Shield – but we’re still trying to get our first MLS Cup. That’s the goal for the franchise this year and something that I think we’ll be able to accomplish.”
How do you view FCD as an MLS Cup Contender in 2020?
Hunt: “Well, a little bit like the comparison I made last year with the Chiefs, having the disappointment in the playoffs. FC Dallas had a tremendous first season under Luchi and his new staff with a very, very young team. And of course, we’ll all remember the playoff game in Seattle where we took Seattle to overtime really right up to the last minute. I thought we had a chance to win that game and I think that game, that experience will help be a catalyst for the team.
Of course, all those young players are back. They have a year more of experience and we’ve also brought in some experienced players, players who have had success in Brazil and in Mexico winning championships. And I think those guys will really be able to help lift the club and hopefully get us over the hurdle.”
Have you shown the Lombardi Trophy to the FCD players yet?
Hunt: “Well, one of the things I enjoy doing every year both with the Chiefs and FC Dallas is talking to the team at the beginning of the season. One of the points that I always make to them is our family’s about building rosters, building teams that can consistently compete for championships. I do plan to show them the Lombardi Trophy and tell them ‘look, we got one already as a family in 2020 and now it’s your turn to go do it’.”
What are the parallels between having sustained success in the NFL and in MLS?
Hunt: “With FC Dallas and really Major League Soccer, it’s amazing that we’re still sitting here 25 years later. It was still probably too early for professional soccer back in 1996 when our family helped launch Major League Soccer, FC Dallas, then known as the Dallas Burn, played in the Cotton Bowl, was in bad need of their own home. We were able to work with Frisco and develop this beautiful complex up here that FC Dallas calls home.
And now if you look at where the league is, it’s tremendous. We’ll be at 26 teams this year with four more teams coming into Major League Soccer over the next few years we’ll have 30. The game has grown tremendously, and FC Dallas has benefited from that and also been a key cog, a catalyst in making that happen. I think when you talk about teams and having sustainable success, that really has to do with the people that you have in a leadership position.
Here, we’re very fortunate to have Luchi Gonzalez and Andre Zannotta leading the club. Part of our message to our leaders as a family is we don’t only want to build a team that can win a championship this year, we want to consistently compete for championships. They have to have their mind on that goal and their thought process focused in that way as they build the team.”
How big of a priority is getting Reggie Cannon an extension?
Hunt: “Well, we made it a priority in the offseason at FC Dallas of trying to lock up as many of our young players as possible. I referenced earlier how important they were to our playoff success, our playoff run last year and it’s our plan to build our team around those young players. Of course, most of them have come through our academy. It’s great to have all these Homegrown Players who are now not only playing for FC Dallas, but they’re also playing for the US National Team.
Reggie’s certainly a key priority for us. Hopefully, we’ll get that done here in the next few weeks. At that point, we’ll really have most of our young players locked down.”
Are you involved in the US hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup?
Hunt: “My brother Daniel, who is the president of FC Dallas, is part of the bid committee here in Dallas. I’m actually on a similar committee in Kansas City. Of course, that’s a process that’s going to play out over the next year.
The US, Canada, and Mexico have already been awarded the World Cup in ’26 but FIFA plans on making the selection of venues later this year, so this is really a key time for that. I’m very optimistic, both for North Texas as well as Kansas City. I think both markets would be tremendous venues for the World Cup and do a great job of supporting it.”