Oscar Pareja reveals why he left FC Dallas, was a candidate for USMNT job

Oscar Pareja crouching - March 2018

Oscar Pareja had been in Dallas for "half his life" and was the figure perhaps best identified with FC Dallas. But it was time for a change.

The former FC Dallas head coach, who departed last month after five seasons at the helm of the first team, was officially unveiled to the press on Friday as the next Club Tijuana manager. And during a conference call with reporters, he explained his reasoning for leaving Dallas, even after becoming the most successful FCD coach in club history.

"I think the decision to come has been based on the opportunity to experience a different league," he said. "I have been grateful with the opportunity that Major League Soccer and all the US soccer organizations has provided to us as a way to grow beyond the moment, and we have accepted to come to a different league."

Pareja takes over a Xolos side that finished 15th in the Liga MX 2018 Apertura season, nine points out of the final playoff spot. The Colombian said the first objective at his new club was to bring them back to the Liguilla (playoffs). But he also emphasized the need to grow as a coach in a new setting and league.

"I am excited by the change. I had been in Dallas 20 years, not consecutive years. I think that was half of my life. And being in Major League Soccer for many years, and being in the program for that long, I think at first it helped me to grow as a coach. But sometimes, taking these type of challenges, it will make us grow immensely."

Pareja won the 2016 Supporters' Shield and 2016 U.S. Open Cup with FC Dallas, missed out on another Shield on goal differential, and was renowned for his ability to graduate academy products to the first team and give them playing time at the MLS level. He also played for FC Dallas from 1998-2005 and worked his way up to run FC Dallas' academy system before taking his first pro head coaching job.

His comments indicated he believed his time managing Dallas had run its course, and while revealing he was one of the finalists for the US national team head coaching job that was filled this week by former Columbus Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter, explained it was time for Dallas to get fresh blood in the manager's chair as well.

"We obviously finished the season there and one of our friends here asked me, I was in the process to be selected as the national team coach in the USA," he said. "I was being interviewed, had a week or two in that process after the end of the season. At the same time, I received an invitation to come to Tijuana, it was something that we were analyzing and it was part of the way with the USA job. I spoke with [Club Tijuana's leadership] and tell them that it would be great as well for us to take this challenge.

"I spoke with the people in Dallas also, just telling them it probably would be a good time for me to just move and refresh myself and get a different experience. But at the same time, bring somebody in and get different instruction and things [in Dallas] after five years. And all of that happened within this month, actually. And at the end, I received the news from the federation that they would be selecting the other candidate, and I accepted the job here in Tijuana," Pareja continued.

While much of the talk on Friday by Pareja was focused on looking ahead to his new challenge, he did offer a moment of gratitude for the experiences that helped shape him in Dallas.

"All the experiences that I had there [in Dallas], they will stay [with me]," he said. "I'm very grateful to all the people who had an influence on my coaching career and my playing time in Dallas."