FRISCO, Texas – Oscar Pareja is the new head coach of Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids, the team announced today.
A two-time MVP for the Dallas Burn and a member of the 2001 MLS Best XI squad, Pareja served as both the FC Dallas director of player development and head coach of the club’s academy and reserve teams last year.
"For 12 years, Oscar Pareja has represented the FC Dallas organization with the highest level of class and professionalism, and we sincerely appreciate his contributions to our club, our fans and the North Texas soccer community," FC Dallas Chairman Clark Hunt said. "I know he will do an outstanding job in his new role with the Rapids, and we wish Oscar, Sandra and their family all the best in Colorado."
As a player, Pareja represented his native Colombia in international competition and enjoyed a professional career spanning two continents and lasting 18 years. In addition to playing for Independiente Medellin and Deportivo Cali in his native Colombia, Pareja played for the New England Revolution and Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas) in Major League Soccer.
As a coach, Pareja has twice (2008-09 and 2009-10) been named the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Conference Coach of the Year and once named Academy Coach of the Year (2008-09).
“We are incredibly proud of Oscar Pareja,” said FC Dallas president and CEO Doug Quinn. “He is a living testament of this organization’s commitment to developing home grown talent. We are happy for him and wish him the best in this new stage in his career. Meanwhile, we will continue our commitment to our academy and youth development here in Dallas. We have one of the largest youth programs in MLS with players representing their respective national teams at every level, including a FIFA World Cup championship.”
Pareja scored 13 goals and tallied 47 assists (2nd all-time to Jason Kreis) for FC Dallas before retiring in 2005. After eight seasons in Major League Soccer, Pareja traded his cleats for a clipboard to become an assistant coach with FC Dallas. The Colombian stayed with the club for two years before receiving an offer from longtime friend and newly-appointed United States U-17 Men’s National Team coach Wilmer Cabrera.
Pareja’s stay on Cabrera’s staff would last less than a year however, as the Burn legend jumped at the chance to become the Director of Player Development for the FC Dallas Youth system in mid-2008.
"Oscar has been the driving force in the development and growth of the FC Dallas Academy and a key contributor in the overall success and recognition of the FC Dallas Youth Club nationally and internationally” said Chris Hayden, VP of FC Dallas Youth. “Both during his playing career, and more recently, in his coaching role, he has been a mentor to many and a tireless ambassador for FC Dallas. We wish him continued success in this next phase of his soccer career."
In the 2010-2011 season, Pareja was named the U-18 Academy coach of the year before taking the U-18s to a runner-up finish at the national championship, and U.S. Soccer rated the FC Dallas Academy best in the nation among over 70 different clubs.
“This is a dream come true, and I am excited to get started at the Player Combine this weekend and the SuperDraft next week," Pareja said. "We already have a great team (in Colorado) and everyone is optimistic about what we can achieve this season and beyond. I also want to express my most sincere thanks and gratitude to Clark and Dan Hunt and everyone at the FC Dallas organization, who have all played a huge part in my career and life since 1998.”
In 2011, Pareja was inducted into the Walk of Fame alongside former teammate and friend, the late Bobby Rhine. Ironically, the Walk of Fame induction took place six years to the day that Pareja scored his last goal as a player for FC Dallas.