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.
Part III: Individual players evaluations and the offseason
Have you started thinking of how you reach your goal? Will there be player moves?
“This team needs to keep bringing players who can make us better, that's for sure. As much as the boys have been doing a good job this year, this team needs some incorporations that can help the team continue moving forward.
“I think all of the positions – I don’t want to skip away from the question – but I think we need a couple of defenders, I think we need a couple of midfielders, and we need a couple of forwards. That’s what I see. Players who can cope with the level of MLS and players who can come and desire and challenge the positions that are occupied at the moment. I don’t see any other way to make teams better, (than) to try to get people who are better. That’s what it is, in all the areas.”
Now that the season is over, who is handling the conversations with the players about the future: You, Paul Bravo?
“Paul and I. We’re in charge of analyzing where the soccer operations project is going and how do we want to move. And obviously we have other people who make other decisions, in terms of salaries and things like that. But it’s the responsibility of the coaching staff and technical director to do it.”
Have you had the opportunity to evaluate – and what’s the process now to make the decisions and inform players?
“We’re going to start meeting with the players today and give them our feedback and put in place the plan that we have for them, or how the club sees them next year, so the players can plan as well.”
What was the reason of signing Nathan Sturgis this early?
“With Nathan it was timing. We didn’t have any doubt about it. It was an easy decision, for Nathan who wants to be here, and the club wants him. Everything was in place to do it. We didn’t want to wait. Nathan has done a great job for us.”
Do you expect Matt Pickens back next year?
“Matt Pickens is under contract here, and at the moment he is a Colorado player. Saying that, I expect Matt Pickens to continue with his contract. In the long run, what I want the most is what is the best for Matt.”
Jaime Castrillon – what is his future?
“Jaime is another player who is under contract. We have to decide if we want to pick up his option. In order to make that decision, we have to factor some stuff – see his salary, what’s on his mind, and what is the need of the team. We are in that process and it’s very early to find an answer if he’s going to stay here or not. Every player is in that situation – evaluating. I can tell you that I may like to find a position that is better, or maybe somebody comes with an offer for him that is a good chance for the player and the team.”
Martin Rivero – do you think he’ll be back next season?
“I think Martin’s year has been very difficult. We all know that. Martin’s year has not been the year we all wanted, and I don’t think Martin even thought about having a year like this. But Martin is young, has a lot of talent, and is a very well-liked kid here on the team. If financially he has an opportunity, and financially the club and the terms are agreeable, I think there is a good chance for Martin to stay.”
Last year there were a number of players that departed. Do you think you have more of your players in place now or is there a chance for similar player movement?
“I think this year is different. I think this year this team shouldn’t change as many as last year. Instead, probably just reinforce the squad with a few players and continue with the model that we have. So I don’t see this being comparable with last year’s moves.”
Do you think you have players here that maybe didn’t get many chances that could figure next year?
“Yes. I think some players. I would have loved to have given them more time. One of them is Dillon Serna, and the other is Tony Cascio. These are players that I believe in, players that I know can play. Tony showed it last year. This was not a good year for him, but I still think he has a great future. And Dillon Serna, with the response that he’s had in the last two months, I think he’s going to challenge a position next year.”
What about Vicente Sanchez?
“Vicente – I think it’s a good situation for him and the club, but as I’ve said, we all have to account on the club budget, and everything. But we know that Vicente helped. The best part is that the club wants him if there is a possibility and he loves it here. So everything seems like it’s good.”
Have you spoken with Brian Mullan – if he’s going to retire or come back?
“We’re going to have that meeting with him. Brian has been such a professional that he hasn’t taken that time to approach, because for him the preference is the team. And I guess that Brian didn’t want to put everybody under pressure to make this decision. At this point he’s waiting for us to meet and see what’s in the future. That’s what we’re going to resolve in the next week.”
Are you going to scout in Europe again?
“Yes. We’re going to have the opportunity to go scout players in Europe and South America as well as Africa.”
What about sending players to train with Derby or elsewhere?
“I don’t think Derby, but we’re looking for another club. Not for anything special, we still have connections there, but the coach has been moved, so we’re looking for other options. But we do really want these players to have an overseas experience.”
Do you think this two month gap is too long?
“Yes. Two weeks rest, that’s it.”
And the college scouting?
“One of the good things that we’ve done is that we spent a lot of time scouting college last year, and put in a lot of thoughts and information. That’s a credit to the coaching staff who are always keeping track of the college game. It’s a great source for us and it has worked. We want to do the same.”
So the coaches last year identified players to follow this year?
“That’s one of the sources of players for us, and it’s very important, so we take it very seriously. And it has been good for us, bringing in these guys from college that we were sure they would impact the league, and we want to continue that.”