Report: Oscar Pareja is leading candidate to be next Orlando City manager

Oscar Pareja - close up - walking

Orlando City SC are looking for their next head coach, and a new report indicates they've honed in on a top target who's well-known throughout MLS.

The Mane Land reported on Thursday that Oscar Pareja is the "leading candidate" for the vacant manager's seat for Orlando, who dismissed James O'Connor at the conclusion of the 2019 regular season. It was the fifth straight campaign in which the Lions did not qualify for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, having joined MLS as an expansion club for the 2015 campaign.

Pareja, 51, currently manages Club Tijuana, a job he took after departing FC Dallas following the 2018 MLS season. In Mexico, Pareja guided Xolos to a playoff berth in the 2019 Clausura season, but they were knocked out in the first round by Club Leon. This season, they are sitting in 7th place at present in the 2019 Apertura, with two games to play. The top eight teams make the playoffs. 

Club Tijuana have had a rotating cast of managers over the years, and it's unclear if Xolos are looking to make a change or if Pareja is looking to move on. However, the Colombian has ample experience in MLS, having played for New England and Dallas from 1998-2005, before working in the FC Dallas academy ranks. He eventually become head coach in 2014 after spending the previous two years as the Colorado Rapids' head coach. Winning a Supporters' Shield-U.S. Open Cup double with Dallas in 2016, Pareja led the club to significant heights, while also bringing through a cadre of young Homegrown players.

Pareja worked with Orlando City's EVP of soccer operations Luiz Muzzi in Dallas. With the Lions looking to become contenders, Pareja is bound to be an in-demand head coach in MLS, this offseason or in the future.