Since 2004, the professional soccer scene here in Dallas has seen its fair share of changes. There was the whole rebranding of the Dallas Burn into FC Dallas in 2005, a move that coincided with the opening of the club’s new soccer-specific facility in Frisco, then known as Pizza Hut Park and now FC Dallas Stadium. And in that same time frame, fans have seen three different individuals coach the club, each with varying levels of success.
Yet in that time there has been one constant and that has been assistant coach Marco Ferruzzi.
The 41-year-old native of San Antonio was first brought in by former Dallas gaffer Colin Clarke in 2004. Clarke knew Ferruzzi well after having coached him with the Richmond Kickers of the USL. Ferruzzi was an assistant under Clarke, a position he retained when Steve Morrow replaced his former boss in 2007.
The ex-Tar Heel Ferruzzi also served as FCD’s interim head coach between the time that Morrow was fired in May 2008 and current head coach Schellas Hyndman took over. Now, the UNC product continues to be an assistant under Hyndman and was recently named to coach the Dallas reserves in 2012, a role previously held by Oscar Pareja, now the head coach of the Colorado Rapids.
“First of all, very happy for Oscar. It’s well deserved,” Ferruzzi said. “He and I have worked together for a long time. Honestly, I’m not going in there to fill Oscar’s shoes. His coaching and his experience speaks for itself and mine is different. I have a familiarity with the reserve team as I’ve coached it in the past. So for me, it’s not necessarily a new thing, but in terms of the league trying to approach the reserve league in a more organized, more professional manner if you will, it is a different step. I’m looking forward to it.”
Sure, his time with Dallas has been filled with plenty of change but as he looks back, and more importantly looks forward, he does so with a great sense of pride and optimism about what the future may hold in Frisco.
“My eight seasons I believe, have gone through a couple of coaching changes,” Ferruzzi said. “A lot of highlights certainly, three different managers with a lot of different roles for me within the club. I think I’ve coached just about every team that this club has to offer. It’s been a valuable experience for sure.”
But it’s not all about his experiences on a personal level with FCD, Ferruzzi is honored to be part of the club’s evolution into what it is now.
“I’ve taken a lot in and most importantly, I’ve seen the club grow from just being a franchise changing brands from Dallas Burn to FC Dallas to a fully functional professional soccer club from the top down. It’s pretty fantastic,” Ferruzzi said. “It’s impressive and I feel fortunate I’ve been able to spend time in each one of those categories.”
No matter who has been coaching the club, this talented assistant has always been a valuable voice among the staff and that’s clearly no different in the current regime.
“Marco has been a tremendous asset to the team,” Hyndman said. “I think the fact that he’s going to be the reserve coach shows all the confidence we have in him. I think he’s very much in line to be a head coach. In fact, I’m surprised he hasn’t been already sought after because I think he’s very good.”
Ferruzzi already has some experience as a MLS head coach, the several games he was FCD’s interim boss at 2010. But as he looks back on his brief stint at the helm, he realizes it wasn’t about him, it was more about the club and getting things in line for when his current boss took over in June 2008.
“Honestly at the time, I wasn’t thinking about head coaching obviously. At that moment in time in particular, it was about the team trying to stabilize, get on track,” he recalled. “We still had much of a season to play for. So whenever those types of changes happen in a locker room, it’s very tenuous. The only thing I tried to bring to the table at that point was some stability and some focus on the games that we had in hand. I wasn’t trying to coach my way into a head coaching position. I was trying to keep the locker room and the squad performing through the interim. That’s why they call it the interim.”
So, considering what a successful stay he’s had in Dallas coupled with the fact that he has coached so many different squads, one has to wonder why other clubs haven’t expressed interest in Ferruzzi to fill their head coaching vacancies. Ferruzzi's current boss has a theory on that.
“Yeah, a little bit, [maybe he’s] flown under the radar and maybe not getting enough hype. I think this will be a year if FC Dallas does well he’s going to get a lot of recognition. [If the] reserve team does well, I think he’s going to get a lot of recognition,” Hyndman said.
However, as Ferruzzi learned during his time as a player and now as a coach, in the beautiful game much as it is in life, nothing is ever certain or guaranteed. So this trusted FCD lieutenant isn’t about to fret about whether or not he ever becomes a head coach in MLS or if he instead remains a trusted assistant for the rest of his career.
“If it happens, it happens. I think it has to be the right environment. It has to be the right fit,” Ferruzzi said. “At the same time, I think it might be a little undersold if you’re doing your job in a competent and professional way and you’re providing for your club. We ask all our players to take roles on the field and if you take your role and achieve it at the best possible level, there’s nothing wrong with being called a top assistant coach who knows his craft.”