Orlando, Florida — After a year in Mexico, Óscar Pareja is returning to MLS. The Colombian was hired as the new manager of Orlando City SC yesterday. However, today, he was introduced to media and fans of the club.
Orlando City SC EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said that Pareja is the “perfect” fit for the Lions.
“He possesses the talent and passion to help our Club reach both its short term goals on the field and long-term plans for the organization,” Muzzi said. “Óscar checked all the boxes we were looking to fill and his vision is aligned with the plans that we have as a Club — to invest in and develop players at all levels of our pyramid to be both proud and successful when wearing the Orlando City crest.”
This isn’t Pareja first rodeo in MLS. Ever since becoming a coach in 2005, Pareja spent his time coaching in the Untied States. He began his journey in Dallas as an assistant for three seasons. Then, he moved to the U.S. Soccer realm, serving as an assistant for the U-17 team for two years.
However, it didn’t take him long to return to Dallas.
Pareja returned to FC Dallas in 2008 after two years with the youth national team. He remained an assistant until 2011, serving under head coach Schellas Hyndman. However, Pareja moved onto a new MLS club in 2011 when offered a head coaching role with the Colorado Rapids.
He remained Colorado’s manager for three seasons. Pareja led Colorado to one playoff appearance in two seasons, with a best finish of fifth place in the Western Conference. After three seasons in the Rocky Mountains, Pareja returned to Dallas in 2014 and remained as the club’s manager for five seasons.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) December 5, 2019
Pareja found success in Dallas
Born in Medellin, Colombia, the 51-year-old manager found plenty of success in Dallas. In five seasons, Pareja helped Dallas reach first place in the Western Conference in 2015 and 2016.
However, FC Dallas never made it to the MLS Cup. They did make the Western Conference semifinals twice, and the Conference Finals in 2015. However, in 2015, the team ultimately fell to the Portland Timbers.
In 2016, FC Dallas did claim the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title. In the final two years of Pareja’s time in Dallas, the club appeared in the CONCACAF Champions League. However, the farthest they made it was the semifinals in 2017.
Pareja — who appeared 11 times for Colombia and was a former midfielder — said he’s excited to return to MLS and said Orlando’s future is bright.
“[There’s] so many opportunities to grow and succeed at all levels of the club — from the new training facility to the world-class stadium and from the Development Academy all the way to the MLS side,” Pareja said. “Orlando is an incredible soccer city, with an especially passionate and dedicated fan base. I can’t wait to get started.”
Pareja spent one season with Tijuana in Mexico in 2019.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) December 4, 2019
Orlando tabbed against RSL first
Pareja’s first test with Orlando in the regular season will be against Real Salt Lake. In the Eastern Conference for the first-time ever, Pareja will see teams more than he usually did in the West. However, he’ll open up his Lions era with a tilt against a Western Conference foe.
Orlando City will host Real Salt Lake at Exploria Stadium on Feb. 29, 2020. The match is slated to begin at 6 p.m. EST.