Why those Oscar Pareja-FC Dallas rumors will not go away


No one wasted any time after Colorado’s elimination late last week in linking manager Oscar Pareja, architect of the exciting remodel job at DSG Park, to the vacant position at FC Dallas.

As of late last week, the Denver-based club had not received any requests to speak with Pareja. That’s according to this piece at MLSSoccer.com. Obviously, that would be FCD’s first step in such a move, as with any manager under contract.

Still, members of the MLS coaching circles that I talked to over the weekend seem convinced that Dallas will reach out, somehow, through front channels or back channels or in-between channels – whatever those are? – to gauge the Colombian’s interest.

Why would Pareja consider such a move? He does, after all, have a great thing going in Colorado. The working relationship with Rapids’ technical director Paul Bravo seems strong, and that’s a big plus for any manager. And Pareja, whose apparent forte is cultivating young talent – he was a former under-17 U.S. national team assistant and was FC Dallas’ academy director before taking the Rapids top managerial position – has a jaw-dropping stable of impressive young talent in Colorado.

But he does have those Texas connections, having arrived as a player in North Texas in 1998. When he took the position in Colorado 22 months ago, Pareja had initially only leased out his house in the Dallas area (although he may have sold since).

But the real binding element here is Pareja’s close relationship with Dan Hunt, the younger of the Hunt sons (sons of pioneering soccer legend Lamar Hunt, that is) in the soccer business. Whereas Clark Hunt once made most of the big decisions around then-named Pizza Hut Park, Dan has become increasingly involved in the day-to-day operations over the last year or so.

When legal trouble forced team president Doug Quinn to resign earlier this year, Dan Hunt more or less stepped into the role.

Relationship in the business mean everything. And that’s why this one will not soon go away – not until we hear from Pareja, at least.

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Zlatan confirms Manchester United departure

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed myriad reports he’s leaving Manchester United with a perfectly-Zlatan Instagram message.

Ibrahimovic is expected to join the LA Galaxy next week.

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The words aren’t too important, but Ibrahimovic posted an old graphic of him in Greek god garb, arm-wrestling a devil. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

The living Swedish legend, 36, has been limited to seven appearances, one start, and one goal in returning from a season-ending knee injury, but finishes his Manchester United tenure with an impressive 29 goals and 10 assists in 53 games (deduct the seven and one for peak impressiveness).

Bale breaks Wales scoring record

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Gareth Bale has now unquestionably written his name into Wales history.

The 28-year-old Real Madrid scored a hat-trick for Wales in its 6-0 demolition of China, taking his overall tally to 29 goals, breaking Ian Rush’s record.

“It is right up there, maybe as the best,” Bale told reporters after the game. “I suppose when I was a little boy I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales. It is a massive honor. I was not thinking about it, but now it has come it’s an incredible honor and one of the best things I’ve achieved in my career. On a personal note it’s great to break the record, but I could not have done it without my team-mates.”

Bale was unable to carry Wales to the 2018 World Cup, but he first became a National Team legend by helping take Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals, scoring three goals along the way.

Here’s a look at Bale’s record-breaking goal.

Sporting KC giving away creative “Bike Opara” bobblehead

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In his ninth Major League Soccer season, Ike Opara has scored just a dozen regular season goals.

He’s known more for his physicality in the backline, for creating space for teammates on set pieces, or heading balls on to teammates with slightly more fleeter feet.

But in June 2017, it all came together for Opara in a magical moment, where he beat an offside trap from the LA Galaxy and scored an insane bicycle kick for Sporting Kansas City.

Now, to honor Opara’s ridiculous goal, Sporting KC has announced the first 10,000 fans through the gates at Children’s Mercy Park on March 31 will get a “Bike Ike” bobblehead, with him in flight kicking the ball towards goal over his shoulder.

You’ve gotta love the creativity and fun the Sporting KC marketing department is having. Hopefully, Opara can give the team another memorable goal in 2018.

Van Dijk named new Netherlands captain

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Virgil Van Dijk has had a pretty decent last three months since moving to Liverpool, and the towering defender earned a new personal achievement on Thursday.

Van Dijk was named the newest captain of the Netherlands National Team, where he’ll play under former manager Ronald Koeman. Van Dijk’s first game as captain will be against the nation where he currently plies his trade, England, on Friday.

“I am very happy with it, it is a great honor to be the captain of your country,” van Dijk said at a pre-match press conference Thursday. “Everyone knows that Koeman gave me the chance at Southampton, I am very grateful to him. This is very special.”

Van Dijk’s commanding presence in the Liverpool backline and previous stops at Southampton and Celtic make him an obvious choice for captain, taking the place of the now-retired Arjen Robben. At just 26-years old, van Dijk could carry the armband for a half dozen years if he keeps up his strong form.