After weeks of speculation that Colorado Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja was out the door, the news became official Friday. And he's moving right into his next coaching role.
Pareja will become the next head coach of FC Dallas, both clubs confirmed in statements. In exchange for leaving his contract with Colorado, Dallas agreed to a contract buyout in addition to a 2015 first-round MLS SuperDraft pick and allocation money.
The 45-year-old Pareja spent two seasons at the Rapids, compiling a regular-season record of 25-30-13 and helping the club reach the postseason in 2013 after finishing fifth in the Western Conference. He spent the final eight seasons of his playing career at FC Dallas before joining the coaching staff in 2006, where he remained until Colorado hired him before the 2012 season.
The news leaves Colorado without a head coach less than a week before the 2014 MLS SuperDraft takes place.
“With a youthful squad that is primed to succeed for several years down the line, this is an attractive coaching job with a solid structure already in place,” said Rapids President Tim Hinchey in a team statement. "We want to credit Oscar for his role in helping develop our team in the last two years, and we wish him and his family the best in Dallas."
Added Pareja in the statement: “It was a difficult decision to leave the Rapids but the team is in good hands with Tim Hinchey, Paul Bravo, and all the staff. My family and I would like to give a special thanks to all the players and the fans for the good memories we will have from our two years in Colorado.”
For FC Dallas' part, the hiring concludes a search to find a replacement for Schellas Hyndman, who had coached the team since 2008 before stepping down after last season.
“We are thrilled to welcome Oscar back to FC Dallas as head coach," FC Dallas chairman Clark Hunt said in a club statement. “After an extensive search process, we concluded that Oscar’s experience, teaching ability, personal integrity and passion for our club make him the ideal choice to lead FC Dallas in 2014 and beyond.”
Pareja appears to welcome the opportunity to return to the club he was involved with for so long.
“I spent 14 years in Dallas and both the club and the Hunt family hold a special place in my heart,” said Pareja in an FC Dallas statement. “While I am forever grateful to the Colorado Rapids for giving me my first head coaching job in MLS, my family and I have decided to take this opportunity to get back home to Texas.
"I believe we can build something really special in Dallas, and I am thankful for the opportunity, and thankful to the organization, its fans and ownership for believing in me.”
It is unknown who will take Pareja's place in Colorado. His top assistant, Wilmer Cabrera, was named head coach of Chivas USA on Thursday. New York Red Bulls assistant coach Robin Fraser has been another rumored replacement, but Red Bulls coach Mike Petke said on Thursday the former Rapids defender was going nowhere.