There were rumors that FC Dallas manager Óscar Pareja was to interview for the head coaching position for the U.S. men’s national soccer team. Pareja, who is in his fifth season with FC Dallas, denied the rumors of the interview and is focused on the current MLS season.
“I just want to make it clear, I am not being interviewed,” Pareja said during a press conference.
The national team has been without a manager since last October, when Bruce Arena resigned after the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Dave Sarachan has been the caretaker of the team. Earnie Stewart, the U.S. men’s national team general manager, will announce the new coach at the end of the year.
Even if the report was false, the United States Soccer Federation should consider Pareja as a candidate for the head coaching job. Here are five reasons why Pareja should be the next U.S. manager.
Pareja has the trophy hardware to back up his success. FC Dallas had not won a major trophy since winning the 1997 edition of the U.S. Open Cup, the knockout cup competition in American soccer. In 2016, Pareja won the club's second U.S. Open Cup and its first Supporter Shield, which is awarded to the MLS team with the most points in the regular season. Pareja has yet to win the MLS Cup, the league's championship trophy. If selected as the new U.S. coach, the 2018 season with FCD will be his last chance to win the league. He came close in 2015 when the team reached the Western Conference finals.
2. The 100-Win Club
It took Pareja 228 games to reach his 100th all-time MLS win, which made him the third-fastest coach in MLS history to reach that mark. The two managers to reach the milestone faster are none other than former U.S. head coaches Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena. The league is about results, and Pareja is capable of winning. After 30 games this season, FC Dallas has clinched a playoff spot and leads MLS' Western Conference with 54 points.
3. Playoff Appearances
Before becoming the FC Dallas coach, Pareja made his head coaching debut in 2012 with the Colorado Rapids. He spent two seasons as the coach and took the team to the playoffs in 2013. FC Dallas then hired Pareja for the 2014 season. Now in his fifth season, the team has appeared in four MLS playoffs, which means Pareja has made the playoffs on five occasions since debuting in 2012.
4. Experience With Youth
The U.S. men’s team is in a rebuilding process and is giving the next generation of players the chance for more playing time. The only problem is that team is young and inexperienced. That’s where Pareja will come in, because he has experience working with and developing young players. From 2008 to '11, Pareja was director of player development for the FC Dallas youth system. In 2011, U.S. Soccer rated FC Dallas Academy No. 1 in the nation out of more than 70 clubs. The United States Soccer Federation obviously knows about Pareja’s success in helping young players transition to MLS.
5. Success with Homegrown Players
Homegrown players, aka young prospects who sign professional contracts, are well known in FC Dallas. Pareja has given opportunities to homegrown players to play on the first-team squad. Former FCD midfielder Kellyn Acosta was the poster boy of the FC Dallas system's collection of homegrown talent. He was developed by Pareja and is now fighting for a place on the U.S. national team. Other successful homegrown players are FCD starters Victor Ulloa, Jesse Gonzalez and 20-year-old rising star Reggie Canon. Acosta and Canon have been selected for October’s U.S. men’s international friendly squad.
“The entire FC Dallas organization, including Óscar Pareja and his coaching staff, is solely focused on finishing the MLS regular season strong and putting us in the best position possible for a long playoff run," FC Dallas said in a statement.