Dallas Soccer DFW

FC Dallas Part Ways with Coach Clarke

Published 11/7/2006 2:53:33 PM by Steve Hunt from mlsnet.com

FRISCO, Texas -- Just nine days after their upset loss to Colorado in their Western Conference Semifinal Series, FC Dallas President and General Manager Michael Hitchcock announced Tuesday via conference call that the contract of head coach Colin Clarke will not be renewed for next season.

"We will start the search for a new head coach immediately," Hitchcock said. "This was not an easy decision. We had our best season in franchise history on and off the field. We have an extremely talented team. Colin and his staff deserve a lot of credit in assembling a great roster. "But, I felt we didn't reach our potential this year. We made a commitment to win championships for our fans and I feel that a change in necessary to take that next step."

Assistant coach Steve Morrow will serve as interim head coach for the time being. He, as well as several other FCD assistant coaches, will be considered for the position. "Steve Morrow will be considered," Hitchcock stated. "We're also going to speak with Oscar (Pareja) and Marco (Ferruzzi) and see what their interest is in being a candidate for the head coach position."

FCD comes off an interesting year. In the regular season, the Hoops finished with a club-record 52 points, won the West regular season title for the first time ever and tied a team mark with 16 victories. But in the end, FCD, who was the top seed in the West in the MLS Cup Playoffs and would have held home-field advantage throughout, fell to the Rapids for the second consecutive season on penalty kicks.

That loss definitely factored into Hitchcock's decision. "There were a number of factors and variables that went into my decision and analysis," he said. "There's a reason that I took some time after the tough loss a week ago Saturday to Colorado. I analyzed the season as a whole. That loss was a factor. But at the end of the day, I considered a lot of factors that I felt needed to be considered to make this decision."

Clarke finished his FCD career with a record of 41-39-20 in the regular season and only 1-2-1 in the playoffs. He took over as interim head coach with six games remaining in the 2003 season and led the Hoops to the postseason twice, in 2005 and 2006. But in both of those seasons, his team was heavily-favored and bowed out in the opening round to Colorado.

Hitchcock said that he would like to have a new coach in place by the end of this year. Preliminary phone calls will begin this afternoon. He has already come up with the criteria he will use for the job. "When you look at the most successful coaches in Major League Soccer history, there are a number of common denominators," he said. "We're going to analyze successful teams and what it takes to win a championship. Those successful managers are extremely well-organized. They are strategic thinkers. They are great man-managers, great communicators and are very systematic in approaching the team and making sure that the team is peaking at the right time."

FCD will need to make a decision in the next week about which 11 players to protect for the expansion draft for Toronto FC which will be held on Nov. 17. "I'm going to work with Steve Morrow as the interim head coach and the rest of the coaching staff and we are going to make all personnel decisions in the next two weeks as we proceed with the head coach search," Hitchcock said.

As far as evaluating which players could stay in Frisco or go elsewhere, Hitchcock admitted that is a process that will begin this week. "Player evaluations will begin tomorrow," he said. "We will evaluate them, have individual meetings with them and make decisions accordingly."

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