Following the team's last training session of 2013, Colorado Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja conducted his final media session, addressing a number of topics. We've transcribed the entire interview and broken it down into three parts.
2013 Goal Highlights
Part I: Reviewing the season and the playoff match:
It’s been a week since the playoff game in Seattle, have you thought about things that you could have or should have differently?
“We always do. We always coach on Friday one way, we perform on Saturday, and we go through that game again on Sunday and Monday normally. At this point, after a week, we recap to see what we could have done better. I would not stick to the last game, but the two games that hit me a little bit more than anything was the game in San Jose and the game at Vancouver. Those two games were the ones where we had a really great opportunity to seed better in the playoffs and [give] ourselves with a better chance to go further into the (playoffs).
"The game in Seattle was a playoff game against a good rival in a tough field and environment, and atmosphere. It’s a game that you don’t want to stick too much on, but the other two would have given us a different opportunity for the finals.”
So did the quick turnaround affect the team?
“You think about that scenario, also. But at that point it’s not excusable. I think we went to Seattle with a good mentality. And it was hard and we didn’t have too many day, but the boys showed energy and their fitness was fine. We just got in a little bit of a roller coaster in the last few weeks, and that cost us.”
In September and October the team was playing well, but kind of fell apart in the end. Do you have the players to do what you want to do, or are there still steps to take?
“Oh no, there are many steps still, I don’t have any doubt about it. The players did a great job this year on adapting into the idea and the philosophy, and most importantly, buying into what the coaches want, and that’s important. But there’s too many steps beyond that and we all know it. It was shown at the end – the last two or three games – when things started getting tighter and in some games where there’s no tomorrow, it has to be today or today - that assignment was a little bit harder for us.
"But as you say, I thought in September and October we peaked, and after that I have to accept that some challenges came back to us. Some injuries with Dillon Powers and Vicente (Sanchez), regular starters and players that were making a difference.”
How do you look back at the season? Fondly, disappointed?
“I think we’re in the right direction, for sure. I thought we accomplished a lot of objectives that we drew up at the beginning of the season. Given the fact what this team revealed in getting to the playoffs was the biggest accomplishment that we had. When you look around and see this team, that was one of the oldest teams in the League and now you have one of the youngest, that’s encouraging. And, still, we were three points away from second place. So those things you have to look at. But being a competitor all my life, at this point when you ask, there is still bitterness there, because I think we could have gone further if we had performed better in San Jose or Vancouver.”
When you started two years ago did you think you’d be here now – a playoff team - or maybe further along?
“You guys got to know me a little. I don’t see too much in the future. I’m day by day. I like planning and I have learned that from this culture a lot, and I’ve incorporated all those things. But really the big picture for me is the next game, the next week, the next day. I planned to come here with a project that I knew was going to take time, and I’ve started seeing the product on the field, that’s encouraging. But short answer, yes. In two years I had thought about being here.”
Have you thought about your goal for next year?
“I want to win. I want to win, and being one step beyond – being part of MLS Cup is for sure is the right objective. I would like to translate that to the people that are around or find people that have bigger goals than that can be contagious, and I would like to wrap it up in that type of mentality that ‘I think we can win.”