The Colorado Rapids named Oscar Pareja, a former MLS Best XI player and experienced assistant coach, as the club’s Head Coach on January 5, 2012.
Pareja joined the Rapids from FC Dallas, where he served as the club’s Reserves Coach and Academy Director. In nearly six years on the coaching staff at Dallas, Pareja helped develop one of the top youth academies in the country, which contributed six players to the FC Dallas first team.
The native of Medellín, Colombia first joined the FC Dallas staff as an assistant coach to Steve Morrow from 2005-07, before becoming an assistant with the United States Under-17 National Team in 2007-08. After nearly a year with U.S. Soccer, Pareja returned to Dallas to become the club’s Director of Player Development.
Under Pareja, FC Dallas formed one of the top youth systems in the country, signing six veterans of the club’s academy to the first team, more than any other MLS club. As head coach of Dallas’ Under-18 Team, Pareja was named Development Academy Coach of the Year in 2009, and the FC Dallas Academy was ranked first out of the top 78 youth clubs in the country in 2011.
Pareja enjoyed a distinguished 18-year professional playing career prior to joining the coaching ranks. With Dallas from 1998-2005, the playmaking midfielder made 176 regular season appearances, scoring 13 goals and adding 47 assists, earning MLS Best XI honors in 2002. He originally joined MLS with the New England Revolution in 1998, playing 13 matches before being traded to Dallas.
Starting his professional career in 1987 with Independiente Medellín in his hometown in Colombia, Pareja helped the club to a second place finish in 1993 and a quarterfinal appearance in the 1994 Copa Libertadores. He moved to Deportivo Cali in 1995, helping the club to the league championship in 1996, the club’s first in 22 years. Pareja also made 11 appearances with the Colombian National Team, scoring three goals.