FRISCO, Texas -- FC Dallas players continue to trickle back to Toyota Stadium for light impromptu training sessions and workouts as we barrel towards the beginning of preseason at the end of January, and there was certainly an extra bit of anticipation in the air with the news that club icon Oscar Pareja has been hired to return to as head coach. Pareja spent 14 years with the franchise as a player, assistant coach and Academy head coach.
"It’s huge. He’s obviously a long-time player here as well as a coach," said goalkeeper Chris Seitz. "He’s kind of exactly what this club speaks of and he obviously knows our Academy very well and worked very close with them, so I think it’s awesome. Everyone’s really excited about it and we’re excited to get going."
Pareja joins FC Dallas after a successful two years with Western Conference rival Colorado Rapids. While the Rapids struggled early in Pareja's time as head coach, they had certainly turned a corner by mid 2013, finishing the season 9-4-4 before a wild card round loss at Seattle. Having built a roster with one of the biggest collections of young and exciting talent in the league, the optimism surrounding his return to Dallas is certainly understandable given the vast amount of Homegrown talent in the FC Dallas Academy, in the NCAA game and with the first team.
"It’s great. When I heard about the news, I was happy as I’m sure a lot of the people in Dallas were," said Richard Sanchez. "He’s done a lot for this club with the Academy and when he played here, so all around it’s good to have him back. We’re looking forward to good things this year."
"He kind of was the one who convinced me to sign here in Dallas...He’s a great motivator. He always tries to push you to your limits and he’s very fun to be around and I think that’s what kind of helped the Academy to be where it’s at now. He influenced them by having fun and finding a way to do things to get better. I feel like that will be his mindset to bring into our team here."
Midfielder Andrew Jacobson arrived to FCD a year before Pareja left and Jacobson said that Oscar's Rapids were among the toughest teams in the league to play against.
"He wants to win and win doing it the right way and that’s obviously an exciting thing to hear as a player," said Jacobson. "I know looking back playing against his teams in Colorado how tough they were to play against so I’m excited to be on the other side."
Up next for Pareja is Thursday's MLS SuperDraft before he makes his grand return to Frisco early next week.