The search for Oscar Pareja’s replacement is officially underway, but it might be more than a little while until the Colorado Rapids find their man.
Rapids president Tim Hinchey confirmed to MLSsoccer.com by phone on Monday that the club will take its time in finding Pareja’s successor after his resignation earlier this month, and an interim coach is a possibility while Colorado indentify their next head coach.
“We want to take our time, be deliberate,” Hinchey said. “We want to find someone that values the opportunity here, be here for the long term, believes in the core value system that we want to take forward.”
Pareja left Colorado for FC Dallas after two years as the club’s head coach, leading the Rapids to the playoffs in 2013 on the back of a young, talented squad led by Rookie of the Year Dillon Powers and runner-up Deshorn Brown. The club’s wealth of young talent – in addition, defenders Shane O’Neill and Chris Klute received their first senior US national team call-ups earlier this month – is leading the Rapids to pursue a skipper they believe will remain with the club for a long time.
Additionally, Pareja was hired in part because of his penchant for playing attractive, offensive-minded soccer, and Hinchey said the club will look for a coach with a similar tactical philosophy.
“I don’t think the criteria changes from when we went after Oscar. Clearly, we’ve established the identity of our club and what we want and we’re going to take that forward and we want people to believe in that identity,” Hinchey said. “I think the other criteria that we’ve always discussed is youth development, youth development, our academy and Homegrown players, understanding and valuing the draft.”
Reported replacement candidates include former Rapids players Robin Fraser and John Spencer (Hinchey said Colorado will be more inclined to pursue an ex-player), but club legend Pablo Mastroeni – who re-joined the team last Friday as a special assistant to Bravo – could be a dark-horse candidate as well.
“There’s a reason that Pablo’s back, and that’s because he cares about the club. He wants to be here,” Hinchey said of Mastroeni, who retired last month after a storied 15-year MLS career mostly spent in Colorado. “We want him around the club, and at some point, if I wear my fan’s hat, if he becomes coach, it’d be cool for me. But ultimately, it’ll be determined by [technical director] Paul Bravo and what’s right for everyone.”
Whomever it is, Hinchey says the club will certainly take its time in finding its man, and that he and Bravo won’t even sit down to discuss names until next week.
“I think Paul has a great group around him right now that we can take our time and make sure we find the right person,” Hinchey said.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.