Drew Epperley of Big D Soccer, has covered Óscar Pareja for his tenure in Dallas. Upon hearing Pareja was rumored to be coming to manage Club Tijuana, I reached out to Epperley to see what he could tell me about Pareja.
I asked about Pareja as a manager and his style, and Epperley said “When thinking of how Óscar Pareja manages his team, two words come to mind. The first is passion. You always see it in the way he works with players both on and off the field. He spends time with players, especially young players to help grow their game and improve their development. The second thought is energy. You always know that with him there is a level of energy that he brings to training and every other aspect of managing a team.”
“Pareja has built FC Dallas into (a team) that has contended for titles in Major League Soccer,” Epperley continued. “His club was moments away from defeating Pachuca in the 2017 Concacaf Champions League semifinals.”
I also wanted to glean some insight about how Pareja would utilize Tijuana’s academy, which has seen some notable players pass through its ranks. “Pareja took the Dallas academy from its infancy and turned it into one that cranks out more Homegrown players than any other MLS side.” Epperley said.
This has proved an effective strategy, as FC Dallas’ model isn’t a big spending affair like the Seattle Sounders, Toronto FC, or Los Angeles FC “Year after year,” Epperley continued “Pareja has shown the willingness to dip into the academy to help fill in senior side. Guys like Kellyn Acosta and Reggie Cannon have turned into national team products for the United States while younger guys like Paxton Pomykal and Brandon Servania are coming up on the youth national team scene.”
I also asked Epperley to talk about Pareja’s relationship with Fabián Castillo, the current Xolos forward who Pareja coached both as an assistant and as head coach in his two stints with FC Dallas. “Xolos fans will be eager to see how his reunion with Fabián Castillo will go as well. When Castillo joined FC Dallas back in 2011 from Deportivo Cali, he lived with Pareja and his family for some time until the young attacker got settled into the North Texas area. Castillo’s most productive years were under Pareja too, especially his 2015 season that saw him earn MLS All-Star honors.”
If Pareja winds up getting the job in Tijuana, it’s possible he’s already laid a roadmap of how he’d manage by his tenure with FC Dallas. If that’s the case, Tijuana should be in good hands.