After nearly two decades of service to the club (in a variety of roles, from player to head coach), Oscar Pareja has officially left his post as FC Dallas’ leading man.
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The club confirmed Pareja’s departure on Monday, just days after it was reported that Pareja would be named the next manager at Liga MX side Club Tijuana, that FCD and Pareja “have mutually agreed to part ways.”
Pareja had the following to say in the club’s official release:
“This was a difficult decision for me and my family. FC Dallas has been our home for many years, but we felt it would be best for us to seek a different challenge which enables me to keep growing as a coach. This club and its players are heading on the right path and I have no doubt they will get there. I would like to thank the Hunt family, Clark and Dan, for their support throughout my time here. The memories I have made with this club will stay with me and my family for a lifetime.”
Pareja was once thought to be one of a handful of candidates for the still-vacant U.S. men’s national team job, but Columbus Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter is expected to be begin his tenure any
minute hour day week month now.
One way or another, Oscar Pareja is leaving MLS this winter, swapping FC Dallas for Liga MX side Club Tijuana, according to a report from Goal.com.
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Pareja was thought to be on the short list of candidates up for consideration to become the next U.S. men’s national team head coach — if you believe such a list ever existed — but that post is now widely expected to be handed to Columbus Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter in the coming hours, days or weeks.
Therefore, Pareja’s taking the next great opportunity to make a step up in competition and exposure after a combined 18 years with FCD — 10 as an academy director, assistant coach and head coach, and eight as a player. The fact that Pareja — born in Medellin, Colombia, but has lived in the United States for two decades — is fluent in both Spanish and English surely played an important part in the hiring process for Tijuana, who more so than any other Mexican club has prioritized growing its footprint among English speakers in the U.S.
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Pareja will reportedly take much of his first-team coaching staff with him.
Moving from MLS to any of Liga MX’s top-half teams is very clearly a considerable step up for a coach — or player, for that matter. If it’s a new, bigger challenge he’s looking for — and he’s deserving of one — Pareja will get just that at Xolos.
Fabian Castillo departed FC Dallas for Europe on contentious terms in the summer of 2016, but the Colombian winger has returned to North America after two seasons with Turkish side Trabzonspor.
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Rather than returning to Dallas, though, Catsillo will suit up for Club Tijuana after completing a (reported) $1.5 million transfer to the Liga MX side on Thursday. Trabzonspor reportedly paid $3 million to FC Dallas as an initial loan fee, plus an addition seven-figure sum to make the signing permanent.
FCD were reportedly willing to entertain the idea of bringing the 26-year-old back last offseason, but a deal wasn’t reached and Castillo was intent on completing the season and trying to force his way into the first team. In the end, he made just 10 appearances (four starts) in league play this season, tallying two assists in 420 minutes.
Castillo, who arrived in Dallas at the age of 18 in 2011, was not so long ago considered one of the most talented, mercurial prospects in all of North America. He racked up 24 goals and 18 assists in his final two and a half seasons (2014-2016) in MLS, and even garnered call-ups to the Colombian national team in 2015.
Liga MX’s Apertura season is off and running with all 18 clubs partaking in a match this weekend.
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Club Tijuana 2-1 Chivas Guadalajara
Scoreless at the half, the weekend’s marquee match sprang to life in the final 45. Juan Martin Lucero gave TJ a 54th minute lead before Jose Van Rankin knotted it up five minutes later.
Lucero assisted Jose Rivero’s 75th minute winner, which was helped in its status when Michael Perez took a red card in the 80th.
Cruz Azul 3-0 Puebla
Elias Hernandez scored a goal and added an assist, and Milton Caraglio put one of his five shots on goal into the net. Andres Renteria also scored in the win.
Tigres 2-0 Leon
Andre-Pierre Gignac scored, and Lucas Zelarayan marked a goal and an assist in the win.
Necaxa 2-1 Club America
Toluca 2-0 Morelia
Santos Laguna 2-1 Lobos BUAP
Pachuca 0-1 Monterrey
Veracruz 0-2 Pumas UNAM
Atlas 0-0 Queretaro
While the excitement potential is high amongst big club USMNT call-ups like PSG’s Tim Weah and Everton’s Antonee Robinson, there are several other relative newcomers who are facing a more acute focus.
So yes, of course, we’re most excited to see the young guns fire away, but a few others will be under the microscope for different reasons.
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Paraguay is leaving some big names behind — Dario Lezcano, Jesus Medina, Edgar Benítez — but won’t be using as “B” or “C” of a squad as the USMNT. Key defenders Junior Alonso (Lille) and Gustavo Gomez (AC Milan) will be staring down the U.S. attack, while Atlanta United star Miguel Almiron will try his luck against the Yanks’ backs.
- The goalkeepers — With full respect to Bill Hamid and his five caps, the trio of backstops who could play against Paraguay are unknown entities on the senior international level. There are reasons to be excited about Alex Bono (Toronto FC) and Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew) going against Los Guaraníes — and Hamid, too — and standing behind a young and untested group of center backs should give plenty of chances to make a name for whoever is chosen (If Sarachan is more “woke” this go-round, it’ll be multiple keepers).
- Andriya Novakovich — The Telstar striker is checking all the boxes: 6-foot-4, productive on the youth level, and now succeeding overseas. The 21-year-old has 17 goals on loan from Reading in the Dutch second tier. While that’s far from a “Woah” figure considering the top-tier in the Netherlands isn’t exactly a defensive hot bed, it’s intriguing for Tuesday in North Carolina.
- Rubio Rubin — We’re hopeful Sarachan goes with a 4-4-2, which would allow both Rubin and Novakovich to get runs next to Bobby Wood. Rubin is seeing some time at Liga MX side Club Tijuana after his European adventure stalled following a hot start for Utrecht. He had an assist in CONCACAF Champions League play against Red Bulls this month.
- Tyler Adams — Speaking of that match, the Red Bulls got a goal from Adams. It’s fair to say he’s got the chance to be as special a player as Schalke youngster Weston McKennie (and would apparently like to join his USMNT teammate overseas). Adams and McKennie together could legit be an engine room for years. Will that begin on Tuesday?
- Cameron Carter-Vickers — The 20-year-old center back has shown resilience in England. His hot start to life at Sheffield United, on loan from Tottenham, cooled enough to have him sent back to North London, but Carter-Vickers has rebounded to become a key part of Ipswich Town’s back line. With 22-year-old Matt Miazga the only clear center back on the roster and older than him, CCV can quiet a lot of doubters.
- Kenny Saief — This guy has excited at nearly every turn since bursting onto the scene with Gent via the Israeli national team, and an injury cost him some momentum with the USMNT. Now healthy and on loan with Anderlecht, the same side which refined the fire of Sacha Kljestan, the once-capped Florida-born man is as intriguing as ever.