FC Dallas Defender Hedges Discusses New Coach, Equal Pay, Gold Cup & More

FC Dallas faced something of a transition in 2019, with Oscar Pareja leaving the club after four years. Matt Hedges, however, is a familiar face, having played for the Texans for the past nine seasons. He is a stalwart at Toyota Stadium and so is in a good position to evaluate what has changed at the club over the past six months.

FloFC caught up with the 29-year-old to discuss that change of management at FC Dallas, the first half of the 2019 season, the franchise’s lack of MLS Cup success, the USA’s Gold Cup campaign, the USWNT equal pay movement, the most underrated player in MLS, and more.

FloFC: How difficult was it for everyone at the franchise to get used to life without Oscar Pareja?

Matt Hedges: It’s never easy when you lose a coach who had been an icon for the club and had been there a long time. But Luchi had been around the club and everybody already knew him so it wasn’t that difficult. Obviously he brings a new style and a new energy so that took a bit of getting used to after getting into a bit of a rhythm with the old coach, but I feel like it didn’t take that long. Everybody picked it up quick. He brought a lot of positive energy so that helped a lot.

Pareja brought his Xolos side to Dallas for a friendly game recently. Did he come into the home dressing room before or after for a chat? What did he say?

He was here on Sunday, yeah. It was good to see him. We saw him in the hallway outside the locker room so we had a chat and just said hi. He’s always really focused on when there’s a game. So we were just chatting and catching up a little bit. He was our coach for a long time so it was really good to see him.

How does the new head coach Luchi Gonzalez differ from Pareja?

Style-wise, he wants us to play more than any coach we have had before. He wants us to always have the ball — passing, combining, stuff like that. I really enjoy that style of play. He’s a really positive coach. That’s not to say that our past coaches weren’t positive, but Luchi always seems to find the positive in every situation.

Sitting in fifth place in the Western Conference, how do you feel about the first half of the season for FC Dallas so far?

We have had our ups and downs. We were trying to get used to the new system at the beginning of the year. Now, I feel like we’re getting into the flow of things. I feel we’ve done alright. Fifth place is probably fair with how we have played over our games. I feel like we can keep improving and be in the top half of the Western Conference and get into those playoffs and then do well towards the end of the season.

FC Dallas have never won MLS Cup. Does that ever feel like a burden? Does that increase pressure on the players?

It seems like it gets brought up a lot by media people, but I don’t feel like it’s something that weighs on us. Obviously every year every player wants to win the cup, that is always our goal, but it’s not something we think about in the locker room and go ‘oh man, FC Dallas has never won our cup.’ A lot of the guys in our locker room have only been here for two or three years. If we don’t win it this year, we want to win it next year. It’s not something that we think about a huge amount.

What do you think FC Dallas’ best qualities as a team are right now? And where do you need to improve?

I think we’re one of the best in the league at possession soccer, playing out from the back, we have done well with that. We create a lot of chances as well and can probably improve on finishing those chances. The last few games especially we have created a lot. If we can get our finishing a little bit better, I think we’re going to be a really strong team going towards the end of the season.

As a U.S. international yourself, how would you evaluate the USA’s Gold Cup campaign?

I thought they played pretty well. There were things with the new coach that they could always improve, but learning that system, you saw throughout the tournament how they played. I thought the first half against Mexico was fantastic. We put a couple of those chances away and you’re a couple goals ahead at half time. We saw what is possible from this U.S. team now. They get a couple guys with injuries back and get firing on all cylinders and it’ll be looking good.

Is breaking back into the national team roster an immediate target for you?

I’m just trying to go out and play my best every day and if I get chosen for the selection that’s fantastic. If not, I respect the coach’s decision. 

A big talking point in U.S. soccer right now is the equal pay movement for the Women’s World Cup-winning USWNT. As a past member of the USMNT, do you support them in this effort?

I support whatever they’re trying to get. If they want to get paid more if they think they should be then I’m going to support that because I know if we went out there and tried to get paid more they would be supporting us. The Women’s World Cup was certainly as big of a deal as the men’s, at least for me. I watched some of the games and I enjoy the style of football. 

Who is the best player in MLS right now?

Carlos Vela, definitely. He’s been in the best form and is probably the best player in the league, for sure. That’s my opinion at least having had to play against him twice in the last couple of months.

As a center back, who’s the most difficult attacker to play against in the league? 

Yeah, again it’s probably Carlos. His movement is fantastic and he’s always in dangerous spots. When he has the ball he’s always going to find the right pass or make the right decision. That’s a tough one to play against him.

Who is the most underrated player in the league at this moment?

He’s starting to get a little bit more recognition than before, but I think it’s Diego Chara. Defenders and defensive midfielders don’t normally get as much recognition as the attacking players, but Chara has been fantastic for the whole time I’ve been in the league. He’s the engine that brings that Portland team. He has a ton of energy, he covers a lot of ground, but he also gets into tackles and is in the right spot almost every time. There’s barely any time when we watch videos and he’s out of position.

Have you visited the National Soccer Hall of Fame since it opened at Toyota Stadium last year? And if so, what’s your favorite exhibit?

I’ve been a couple times. There’s a lot of really cool trophies and obscure stuff there. There are some old U.S. Cup medals… I like the old New York Cosmos jerseys. They’re fascinating from the old NASL before it folded. My wife really loves the women’s national team stuff. It’s cool to see the history of the game in this country.

Graham Ruthven is a soccer writer based in the U.K. He has written for the New York Times, Guardian, Eurosport, Bleacher Report, and others.

First Half Own Goal Gives D.C. United Huge Victory Over Portland Timbers

In 90 minutes of rain, D.C. United emerged victorious in the Pacific Northwest, benefitting from an own goal in a 1-0 win against the Portland Timbers. Bill Tuiloma knocked in Ulises Segura's cross in the 25th minute, giving United their second consecutive win, both of which came away from the friendly confines at Audi Field. The win elevated the Black-and-Red to fourth place in the Eastern Conference, a position that could change depending on other results on Sunday.

D.C. United In Position To Solidify Playoff Position With PDX Trip

After two weeks off for the international break, D.C. United are back in action on Sunday afternoon as they travel cross-country to take on the Portland Timbers. A win could see the Black-and-Red vault back into fourth place in the Eastern Conference after they were surpassed midweek by Toronto FC, who moved into fourth on the goal differential tiebreaker. Both teams currently occupy a playoff spot at the moment but need a win to cement their standing.

4 Notes From The Opening Rounds Of The Concacaf Nations League

The opening two rounds of the Concacaf Nations League are in the books, and we now have a clearer picture of which nations might punch their tickets to bigger and better things or tumble down into a lower league. 

Final 4 Weeks Of MLS Season Should Provide Plenty Of Drama

With the new schedule this year, Major League Soccer has a couple more sprints before the finish of the 2019 season. With the new playoff schedule, the second season is much shorter this year, after having to deal with the November international window smack dab in the middle of the playoffs. This year the playoffs are sandwiched between the October and November FIFA windows, which will help produce an MLS Cup winner in a whirlwind of a playoff schedule.

The Gap Between US & Mexico Is Widening On The International Stage

Rewind the tape to last September, when the USA and Mexico faced off in a friendly in Nashville. Tyler Adams helped the USMNT grab a 1-0 victory under the guidance of interim manager Dave Sarachan. What might be most memorable from that game, though, was the towering center back Matt Miazga reminding Mexican youngster Diego Lainez just how much shorter the then 18-year-old was than Miazga.

Trinidad & Tobago Struggle In Opening Rounds Of Concacaf Nations League

Though it may have been just a consolation prize considering their last-place finish in the Hex, Trinidad & Tobago’s shocking win over the United States at the tail end of 2017 was ample reason for the small nation to celebrate. 

4 Games Left To Decide D.C. United's MLS Playoff Standing

The last time D.C. United took the field in a competitive MLS game, they did their playoff chances a world of good. In a crucial showdown against the Montreal Impact on August 31, the Black-and-Red repeatedly punched their opponents in the mouth over the first 45 minutes of the game, picking up a 3-0 win that massively helped ease the pressure on a playoff race that was rapidly tightening up.

Concaclusions, Ep. 1: Nations League Matchday 1 & Mexico Dominate USA


From clutch finishes to a surprise resignation, the last week of Concacaf action featured just about everything imaginable as the inaugural Nations League is now underway. Away from the opening round of the tournament, Mexico were busy flexing their muscles in front of a rain-soaked crowd at MetLife Stadium. 

The Favorites Roll, Curaçao Narrowly Beats Haiti & More From Days 2 & 3


The past two days of the Concacaf Nations League has provided plenty of drama, decisive results, and world-class goals for everyone to enjoy. With games across all three leagues in the competition, some storylines are already beginning to play out throughout the competition, as we move on to the second match day, beginning on Monday.

Unexpected Concacaf Twist: Gustavo Matosas Stepping Down Because Of Boredom

The Concacaf Nations League began play this week and is sure to provide plenty of drama on the field over the next couple of months. Countries are vying to move to the semifinal round, or avoid relegation, or even jump up a league through promotion. There's always some element of unpredictability in these games, leading to shock results and standout performances from unheralded players.