Thursday, January 5, 2012

Head Coach Oscar Pareja

Today Colorado made it official and hired Oscar Pareja as the team's 7th head coach. The Rapids say 6th but I like to count Roy Wegerle's 1 game as player/manager at the end of the 1996 season. ;) There's been no details as to the amount or length of his contract other than "long" according to Tim Hinchey at the press conference. I'm sure those details will leak in the future.

Pareja is Colombian and started his career there, playing for two of the better known clubs in Independiente Medellín and Deportivo Cali (Carlos Valderrama also played for both clubs). In 1998 he moved to the New England Revolution but was quickly traded to the Dallas Burn, where he's been ever since. After retiring from playing in 2005, his last game being Dallas' PK playoff loss to the Rapids, he took a position as an assistant coach and was eventually put in charge of Dallas' youth academy. Dallas has the most successful youth academy in the league so far and everyone seems to point to Pareja as the reason. He also spent some time as an assistant coach to the U.S. U-17 team.

I like this move. Its grown on me during this week as more information has come out and the Dallas fans have been falling over themselves to say good things about Papi (As Pareja is known). I'm glad we didn't go with a re-tread like Soehn or Osario. I think Williams still would have been my first choice but I'm cautiously optimistic about Pareja. Certainly his experience with the youth squad in Dallas and the U-17 team should make him more willing than Smith to play our younger players, which has been lacking. Bravo is still going to be in charge of Colorado's youth program, as the head coach doesn't have time for that responsibility, but hopefully Pareja will be able to give some recommendations and help the progress of the Academy.

There's also been a rumor over the last couple of days that Pareja's friend and countryman, Wilmer Cabrera, will be joining him in Colorado. A couple of sources have confirmed this, but I haven't seen any word from normally reliable sources. For the last 4 years Cabrera has been the coach of the U.S. U-17 National Team, so it would be a big get for the Rapids if they've hired him.

Between Pareja and possibly Cabrera Colorado should have a good pipeline to young players in Colombia and the rest of South America. This has been somewhere Paul Bravo has said he wants to be looking for players so it would seem that everyone is on the same page now. Before that though, bravo and Pareja are heading to Ft. Lauderdale tonight for the MLS Combine this weekend and next week's SuperDraft.

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