In 1991, when you were with Independiente Medellín in Colombia, you played a match against Pablo Escobar at La Catedral, his private prison. What was that like? It was hard, in those times, for our society. Somehow, we were numb. Is that the right word? We didn’t understand how big it was, but we were in the middle of it. So when you have to go play with these guys, and be invited to an event at the prison — for us, it was like, just having people over that were struggling. We took it that way. But, now, when I look back at that time and see how much damage they did for our country, I’m sad. At that moment — to answer your question — it was just another game against another guy. [laughs]

How was he as a player? He played the game well. We knew it was one of his hobbies and his main sport. But playing against him surprised me, because he was skillful, yeah.

You came to FC Dallas in 1998, when it was still called the Dallas Burn. How much have things changed since those early days of Major League Soccer? When I came, we were training at a high school field, and our locker room was a trailer.

A trailer — really? Yes. And that has to say a lot about how much we have grown as an organization. And I think the league has grown even more, in terms of the game, the passion the fans are experiencing now, or putting into it. The fanbase is incredible now for many teams in the league. And the amount of teams that we have. At the time, we had 12. Now we have 23. So the growth is great.

It was like coming back home from a long journey.

Now that you’re no longer changing in trailers, and most of the teams in the league have actual soccer stadiums, where do you think MLS ranks in terms of leagues all over the world? Is it comparable or getting close? Silently, the league is growing and gaining territory and gaining attention, without bragging or anything. For me, that’s huge. It’s early to measure it with leagues that have been in the business for so many years, but I don’t have any doubt that the mission that the ownership and the people who are in the top of the MLS have drawn for us, saying that we will be one of the biggest leagues in 2022, I don’t have a doubt about it.

You’ve been with FC Dallas as a player and an assistant coach, and you were involved in running the team’s academy before you left to coach the Colorado Rapids last season. So you pretty much didn’t have a choice when the job came open. You had to come back. That was probably one of the most difficult decisions that I have made in my life. I say this because the way I was treated in Colorado and the opportunity that they gave me there, and the program — everything was coming together. But this is bigger than anything for me — what the club means and the appreciation that my family and I have for the ownership and the fanbase, it would not happen for me without that.

You’d only been a head coach for one season. Since you were involved with the organization for so many years, did that make the transition to being in charge easier? The people who I work with at the club, the people in the office, the ownership and the players and the assistant coaches that I kept this year, all of them, it’s family for me. So the adaptation for me was really easy. It was like coming back home from a long journey.