Oscar Pareja named head coach of the FC Dallas Reserve squad
FRISCO, Texas (March 9, 2011) – In a move designed to strengthen player development and bridge the gap between the Academy and professional teams, Major League Soccer has revived its Reserve League and FC Dallas has named Oscar Pareja head coach of its reserve squad, linking the professional team with the Academy, the club announced today.
“I thought it was a great idea to start bridging the academy to the professional team,” said Pareja. “There was a gap between the elite youth, development academy and professional teams, and I think getting that gap covered is a great idea for the future of FC Dallas players and the club.”
Pareja will continue in his role as director of player development for the FC Dallas Academy as the U-16 and U-18 squads will work more closely with the professional team. With MLS rosters expanding to 30 players and the addition of an MLS Reserve League, Pareja will coach the reserve squad, becoming an extension of Schellas Hyndman’s staff.
“Oscar has done a tremendous job with our Academy preparing our young players to be professionals,” said Hyndman. “I am confident Oscar will continue to develop our reserve team to be ready to contribute to the first team’s success. Oscar will share his knowledge and experiences with our reserve team on a daily basis.”
FC Dallas has added six home grown players (Bryan Leyva, Ruben Luna, Moises Hernandez, Victor Ulloa, Jonathan Top and Richard Sanchez) from its Academy program to its professional roster during the past 16 months, two more than any other MLS team.
“We needed the Reserve League, not only for young developing players, but also for some older players who weren’t getting enough minutes each week,” said Pareja. “The Reserve League returning gives both young pros out of college and home grown players the professional competition they need to continue their development.”
With Pareja’s involvement on the professional side and John Ellinger’s continued involvement with the Academy, FC Dallas will strengthen its commitment to identifying and developing home grown talent for the professional team.
Ellinger will attend Academy training sessions and games as his schedule allows. The former U.S. Soccer U-17 head coach and director of youth development, Ellinger spearheaded the launch of the U.S. Soccer U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla. The program debuted on Jan. 17, 1999, with U.S. Soccer collecting the top 20 of the country’s elite youth players and placing them in year-round training at the IMG Academy. Among the more than 200 players that have graduated from the program are Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey, Oguchi Onyewu, Michael Bradley and current FC Dallas players Eric Avila, Josh Lambo, Peri Marosevic and Brek Shea.
The Academy structure is designed to provide a professional environment for players from an early age without sacrificing players’ academic options. Last June the club hired Scott Dymond as a full-time college director, launching the first such program in MLS. Dymond is in charge of advising FC Dallas Youth and Academy players who want to play college soccer, as well as providing college showcases to help get those players seen by top college recruiters.
More recently, FC Dallas teamed with Frisco ISD to develop the soccer intensive academic curriculum (SIAC). The SIAC allows Academy players who live outside of the Frisco district to attend classes with their teammates. The Academy players participating in the “pre-residency” program train twice a day at Pizza Hut Park and attend school with a modified schedule in the exemplary Frisco ISD. The program is free of all costs to each student-athlete invited to participate and offers defined scholastic mentoring and support from FC Dallas to help each player achieve optimal on and off the field potential. Academy players can also join the reserve team for games.
“Allowing the Academy players to play in reserve games is huge for them because it gives them a goal to earn a spot in those games all the time,” said Pareja. “They are young players dreaming about becoming professionals, and the structure allows them to test their potential as future pros without giving up the opportunity to earn a college scholarship some day.”