Oscar Pareja

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Which managers should the USMNT consider to replace Bruce Arena?

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Nothing has been decided yet regarding the status of the U.S. Men’s National team, nor should it, but the resounding thought is that Bruce Arena will be out sooner than later.

Should the second-term USMNT manager be relieved of his duties once again, that leaves the Americans in a precarious and decisive moment in U.S. Soccer history.

[ MORE: Key questions on the USMNT’s failure to reach WC 2018 ]

PST decided to take a look at five managers worth the USMNT’s attention.


Peter Vermes (Sporting KC)

The former USMNT player is surely one of the names that has been talked about for years now when mentioned in the same breath with the national team job. His resume in MLS speaks for itself, including an MLS Cup title and numerous U.S. Open Cup triumphs.

From bringing out the best in Graham Zusi and Matt Besler to establishing relationships with like young American talents like Erik Palmer-Brown, Vermes has proven that he has the eye for talent, while doing so without spending large amounts of money. His philosophy in MLS has been one of a rarity by not targeting top international talents like Sebastian Giovinco and David Villa.

Tab Ramos (U.S. U-20 national team)

The 51-year-old will likely receive high consideration for the job given his U.S. Soccer standing, and rightfully so. Ramos is widely-considered one of the top midfielders in the USMNT’s history, while playing a role in two World Cups (the first of which came with Vermes in 1990).

The former player knows the inner-workings of the U.S. system and has played an important role in developing some of the country’s top players in the past between the national team academy and even building his own academy based out of New Jersey (NJSA 04).

Oscar Pareja (FC Dallas)

2017 has been somewhat of an anomaly for Pareja and his FC Dallas side, but make no mistake, this man is highly qualified for the national team job. In fact, he offers something quite useful that could benefit the USMNT greatly if he were to be hired. Not only did Pareja play in MLS for over half-a-decade, but his success in nearly four seasons with FC Dallas, where he also spent the majority of his playing career, is undeniable.

His relationships with hispanic players has helped Dallas become one of the top clubs in MLS on a consistent basis, and he played an influence in goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez making the switch from representing Mexico to playing for the USMNT. Similar to what Jurgen Klinsmann did with dual-nationals, Pareja could do the same.

Caleb Porter (Portland Timbers)

Since 2012, Porter has been one of the foremost targets of the USMNT job among fans and media alike given his relationship with U.S. Soccer and his success since coming out of the ranks of the University of Akron, which has become one of college soccer’s most prevalent schools.

The 42-year-old has already won an MLS Cup with the Timbers and MLS Coach of the Year, making him a prime target for the job because of his ability to find success on multiple levels of the game. Additionally, Porter managed the U-23 national team during 2011 and 2012, however, in the lead up to the Olympics he failed to guide the team to the Summer Games.

Gerardo “Tata” Martino (Atlanta United)

The dark-horse contender on this list for sure, but Martino is realistically the best candidate if you’re strictly looking at his experience and resume. The veteran boss has managed both the Paraguayan and Argentine national teams during his coaching career, leading the former to the quarterfinals in 2010.

He’s managed Spanish giants Barcelona as well, which certainly adds more dazzle to his prior history as a coach, but his short time in Atlanta has already made him one of MLS’ top managers. With the expansion side, he’s not only clinched a playoff spot in the club’s first season, but done so in style with a squad of players that most teams would kill for. There’s no question that Martino has an eye for talent, and perhaps he’ll be able to help grow some of America’s best youth.

FC Dallas extends the contract of Oscar Pareja

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After winning the club’s second-ever U.S. Open Cup title and first-ever Supporters’ Shield last season, plus a hot start to the new term, FC Dallas has extended the contract of manager Oscar Pareja.

Pareja, who was hired as FC Dallas manager in 2014, will be at FC Dallas “for years to come” according to the club, although the terms of the contract, including the length, were not released.

“We are excited to ensure Oscar will be our head coach for many years to come,” said FC Dallas chairman and CEO Clark Hunt in a statement by the club. “As a manager and a developer of talent, Oscar has proven himself to be among the elite in our sport, and we look forward to even greater success under his leadership in the future.”

As the former head of the FC Dallas academy, Pareja has been hailed not only for his tactical abilities, but as a cultivator of new talent. His most prized possession is young midfielder Kellyn Acosta, who made his U.S. national team debut on Tuesday, and young defender Walker Zimmerman cracked the roster but has yet to debut. The club also boasts homegrown players Victor Ulloa and Jesse Gonzalez, and the official club roster features a whopping 20 players 25 years old or younger, six of whom are teenagers. The nine homegrown players are the most on any roster in MLS.

Pareja, a former FC Dallas player who made 176 league appearances for the club, said he is loving life in the city he built his career. “On behalf of my family and the people who work with me, I would like to extend my gratitude to Clark and Dan Hunt and the entire FC Dallas family for having the confidence and belief in us,” Pareja said in the statement. “Our ultimate goal is to continue developing the model, with a commitment to young players, that makes FC Dallas so successful.”

“When I came [to the United States as a player] in ’98, after a few months I had the desire to go back home. I found it difficult for me, my wife and my daughter to adjust to the culture because we didn’t know the language and that creates a little bit of a gap,” Pareja said. “The people here in Dallas, they were terrific with us and made us feel very comfortable. I started growing into the culture and in that moment things started changing. I did not for one moment, though, think that I was going to be here this many years.”

The 48-year-old Colombian stated he still desires for an MLS Cup, something which evaded FC Dallas last year after losing to Seattle in the conference semifinals.

CCL: FC Dallas entertains Pachuca in “crucial” semi leg

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The CONCACAF Champions League semifinal: It’s the furthest FC Dallas has progressed in continental play, and the MLS side doesn’t plan on stopping there.

Standing in FC Dallas’ way is four-time CONCACAF champions Pachuca.

The first leg kicks off at 8 p.m. EDT in Frisco, Texas, when former Atletico Madrid striker and Pachuca boss Diego Alonso leads his side into Toyota Stadium.

[ MORE: ‘Caps fall 2-0 at Tigres ]

The Liga MX mainstays boast Dallas-raised USMNT center back Omar Gonzalez, as well as Mexican NT standouts Hirving Lozano, Erick Gutierrez, and Raul Lopez.

FCD boss Oscar Pareja isn’t scared, and is putting an accent on the home leg. From FCDallas.com:

“It’s crucial. It’s our leg,” Pareja said. “What I mean by that is it’s our leg that belongs to us at home and we have to take advantage of our ground, our fans, our stadium and our city. We want to be strong, for sure.”

MLS Cup Playoffs: The how-to-root guide for neutrals/eliminated fans

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So, chances are, your favorite Major League Soccer team has already been knocked out of the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs — that’s if they even qualified in the first place. Don’t feel bad, though, you’re far from alone — your team is just like a vast majority (80 percent) of the league as a whole.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

I know, that probably does nothing to make you feel even the slightest bit better, especially if you’re a fan of the Seattle Sounders or Montreal Impact — brutal way to go out on Sunday, guys. But you’re still watching the rest of the playoffs. You know you are.

What’s the fun in not having a team to root for, even if only halfheartedly, though? In truth, there’s a lot to like — and very little to dislike — about this year’s last four standing.  Still not sure which of the remaining four teams best suits your personal soccer ideology, likable characters and/or need for U.S. national stars of the present/future? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered…

New York Red Bulls

What’s to like: They’re built on the smallest on-budget payroll in the league, yet they finished top of the league in the regular season; they got rid of D.C. United for the rest of us – thanks, Red Bulls; Dax McCarty is the hardest-working man in MLS, yet so often he goes unnoticed; they’ve never won an MLS Cup
What’s not to like: They’re “the New York team” (though they play in New Jersey), which on its own is enough to put off half the nation.
Who can/can’t root for them: Can’t – D.C. United or New York City FC fans; Can – Those hoping Matt Miazga is the savior of the USMNT
Root-a-bility ranking: 4th-of-4

[ LEG 2: FCD 2-1 (4-2 PKs) SEA | CLB 3-1(aet) MTL | VAN 0-2 POR | NY 1-0 DC ]

Portland Timbers

What’s to like: Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri, Lucas Melano, Rodney Wallace and Fanendo Adi is an extremely enjoyable attacking unit to watch, when set out properly; the Providence Park atmosphere (Timbers Army); they’ve never won an MLS Cup
What’s not to like: Does Caleb Porter rub anyone else the wrong way? Perhaps I hold a slight grudge over his refusal to accept that the Timbers could have been a dominant counter-attacking side for two full seasons, until October of this year.
Who can/can’t root for them: Can’t – Still-hurting Sporting Kansas City or Vancouver Whitecaps fans; Seattle Sounders fans; Can – Those hoping Nagbe is the savior of the USMNT; pretty much anyone else
Root-a-bility ranking: 3rd-of-4

[ MORE: MLS Player of the Week | Team of the Week ]

Columbus Crew SC

What’s to like: Lightning-quick, counter-attacking soccer that completely overwhelms opponents – they know no other way to play, for better or for worse; Kei Kamara‘s breakout season (22 goals) at age 30; Wil Trapp, Wil Trapp and Wil Trapp; their secondary kits (black checkered) are the best in the league, hands down
What’s not to like: If Plan A isn’t working, there is no Plan B, which can make them extremely frustrating to watch against a bunkered midfield and defense.
Who can/can’t root for them: Can’t – Still-hurting Montreal Impact fans; Chicago Fire and Toronto FC fans; Can – Literally everyone else
Root-a-bility ranking: 2nd-of-4

[ MORE: NYCFC names Patrick Vieira club’s new head coach ]

FC Dallas

What’s to like: The youngest core unit in MLS, by some way (14 players appeared in 20 or more regular-season games — average age: 25.4 years old); they’re proof that academies are the way forward in MLS – all hail Oscar Pareja; Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo combined to create arguably the best one-two punch in MLS; they’ve never won an MLS Cup
What’s not to like: Blas Perez’s antics could singlehandedly make you hate any team in the world, unless you the type that roots for the villain.
Who can/can’t root for them: Can’t – Still-hurting Seattle Sounders fans; Houston Dynamo fans; Can – Those who enjoy the constructing of a team as much as the playing of actual games
Root-a-bility ranking: 1st-of-4

An MLS postseason awards ballot — MVP, Coach, Rookie & more

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Earlier this week, Major League Soccer released the 2015 list for end-of-season awards, which included MVP, Coach of the Year and Rookie of the Year, among others.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

This is my would-be ballot for each of the top awards in 2015, with a little bit of reasoning included below…

Rookie of the YearCyle Larin, Orlando City SC

Larin, a 20-year-old rookie from the University of Connecticut (born in Brampton, Ontario), scored 17 goals and singlehandedly kept the expansion side alive in the playoff race until the final day of the regular season. There was no “hitting the rookie wall” for Larin, who only got stronger as the season went on (11 goals scored from July 26 on).

Runners-up: Matt Polster, Chicago Fire; Fatai Alashe, San Jose Earthquakes

Coach of the Year Oscar Pareja, FC Dallas

With all due respect to Jesse Marsch, who became Red Bulls manager under difficult circumstances and went on to win the Supporters’ Shield, part of being a manager is also building something for the long term, not just the season at hand. 14 players appeared in more 20 or more league games this year for FCD — their average age: 25.4 years old. FCD not only missed out on the Supporters’ Shield by virtue of goal differential this year, but they’re also perfectly positioned to come right back and challenge for it again next year.

Runners-up: Jesse Marsch, New York Red Bulls; Carl Robinson, Vancouver Whitecaps

[ MORE: Which MLS teams should be in the Cubo Torres sweepstakes? ]

Defender of the YearKendall Waston, Vancouver Whitecaps

No team in MLS conceded fewer goals than the Whitecaps (36 in 34 games), and Waston, the Costa Rican behemoth that he is, was a vitally important piece of that defensive title. Since Waston arrived in MLS, he’s been the scariest defender in the league. This year, he combined that fear, his massive frame (6-foot-5, 195 pounds) and an aerial dominance maybe never before seen in MLS to anchor the best defense in the league.

Runners-up: Laurent Ciman, Montreal Impact; Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City (not on list of nominees); Matt Hedges, FC Dallas

Goalkeeper of the YearBill Hamid, D.C. United

D.C. United conceded 43 goals on the season. Without Hamid between the sticks for 25 of their 34 games, that number could have easily been 55, or higher. Part of the allure to Hamid is that his midfield and defense was so bad by the end of the season that he was asked to make five, six, seven or eight spectacular saves each game. That shouldn’t take away from his resume, though, because he still made them in the end. Hamid was probably ready for regular minutes with the U.S. national team this time last year. He got very few in 2015, though he’s without a doubt ready to challenge Brad Guzan and Tim Howard for the starting job.

[ MORE: Gerrard won’t be returning to Liverpool (to play) ]

Goal of the YearKrisztian Nemeth, Sporting Kansas City

Here’s the problem with the quality in MLS continuing to improve year after year: there are entirely too many great goals scored to pick just one. Nemeth’s marathon, twisting, turning, elusive, pinpoint tally against the Portland Timbers last month comes out on top for me, though, if only for 1) the number of players taken on in the build-up, and 2) the quality of said players — Diego Chara and Nat Borchers are borderline elite players at their respective positions. Nemeth was a delightful surprise in terms of a relatively unknown foreigner coming to MLS and regularly displaying this level of quality.

Runners-up: Marco Donadel, Montreal Impact; Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders; Taylor Kemp, D.C. United; Obafemi Martins, Seattle Sounders

Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable PlayerSebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC

22 goals and 15 assists (an MLS record for goals and assists combined in a single season)…in his debut MLS season. Need I say more? There’s also the undeniable fact that, without Giovinco, TFC get nowhere near the MLS Cup Playoffs this year (first berth in club history), while Columbus, Montreal and Kansas City are all borderline playoff teams without their respective MVP candidates. Giovinco’s the best player to ever do his thing in MLS, the first player in MLS history that could walk into the starting 11 of just about any title-contending team in Europe.

Runners-up: Kei Kamara, Columbus Crew SC; Didier Drogba, Montreal Impact (not on list of nominees); Benny Feilhaber, Sporting Kansas City