Sometimes former players make for bad coaches, but former players who are good coaches is the best of both worlds. Thus is the case with Oscar Pareja.
The U.S. Men’s National Team is always looking for coaches with international experience in better soccer environments than the U.S., and that definitely describes Oscar Pareja.
Pareja knows there is plenty of talent in the United States, and he has a great eye for talent. Say what you want about American soccer, but it’s definitely not as good as Colombian soccer. Colombia has better players and a better national team.
Others have backed Pareja to coach the U.S. before, but his name isn’t mentioned as often as the likes of Peter Vermes, who wouldn’t make the changes needed. Here are the reasons that Pareja should be the next U.S. Men’s National Team coach:
Oscar Pareja is a former Colombia international and a proven coach in MLS
Pareja not only played for Colombia, but he knows the American talent pool very well from his time in MLS. This makes Pareja an excellent combination of international experience and knowledge of the U.S. soccer landscape. In fact, Pareja is considered one of the very best coaches in MLS, if not the very best. Hiring Pareja would avoid the problem of an international coach who doesn’t know the player pool or the lay of the land. The United States Soccer Federation has always wanted an international coach with a better soccer background than an American coach, and that’s why they hired Jürgen Klinsmann. Unfortunately, Klinsmann was a poor tactician, and he didn’t do well selection rosters or lineups. Nevertheless, Pareja has a better track record than Klinsmann with knowing the U.S. talent pool.
Oscar Pareja fields quality lineups and uses good tactics
Pareja is known for his quality lineups and sound tactics in MLS, which makes him a proven MLS coach. He has frequently used the 4-2-3-1 formation, which shows that he knows to provide enough defensive coverage in the midfield without fielding an overly defensive lineup. Compared to other candidates like Peter Vermes, Pareja is more disposed to using the more technical players. Under Bob Bradley, Jürgen Klinsmann, and Bruce Arena, the U.S. did not have the right balance of defending and attacking play. None of these coaches would use a playmaker, and the U.S.’ passing was poor under all three. Pareja doesn’t have a history of starting players out of position or fielding lineups that don’t have the players needed to keep possession and create scoring chances.
Oscar Pareja has a great eye for talent.
As a former Colombian international, Pareja is a coach who knows how to spot technical and talented players, and he has shown this already.
As the coach of the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas, Pareja fielded the right players. An excellent example of this was Pareja starting Chris Klute at left back, where he looked like the best outside back in MLS. Pareja started Klute when only Eric Wynalda knew who he was. Klute was essentially a nobody who Pareja proved to much better than others realized. After Pareja left, coaches stopped playing Klute even after all he had proven under Pareja.
Don’t forget that Pareja is the coach that really let Kellyn Acosta play his best position: center midfielder. Others made Acosta play outside back, but under Pareja, Acosta has been bossing the midfield in games and netting impressive free kicks. Pareja knew Acosta was better as a central midfielder where he saw more of the ball and was more influential in games.
Oscar Pareja values technical players over hustle players and purely athletic players.
Pablo Mastroeni coached the Colorado Rapids after Pareja, and Mastroeni was not an advocate of skill soccer. He favored hustle players and emphasized physicality and running. Mastroeni himself was essentially a hacker known for dirty fouls, but Pareja as a coach is all about technique and footballing talent. Pareja better utilized Dillon Powers as a central midfielder, whereas Mastroeni pushed him too close to goal, which didn’t maximize his skill set. Anyone who watches Pareja’s teams knows that he fields lineups who display technical skill and quality passing. Pareja as coach of the U.S. will know how to have the team playing quality football.
Oscar Pareja plays young players who are ready.
The U.S. has been producing better and better players, but MLS coaches and U.S. national team coaches are not letting these players play. Pareja has shown at two different MLS clubs that he plays his best players no matter their age. Youth is not held against talented players if the team can use their technical skills. Probably the most important thing for the next U.S. coach will be fielding the younger and better players. Not all of the coaching options will have the courage and intelligence to let the best players play even if they are young and inexperienced. It’s a cliché, but you can’t get experience without somebody giving your experience. How long will U.S. coaches think small and play small?