COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Breathe easy, Colorado Rapids fans. Oscar Pareja is not going anywhere for now.
Rapids team president Tim Hinchey said on Thursday that he spurned a request from an unnamed MLS club seeking permission to speak with Pareja, and Hinchey added that he will turn down all future inquiries for Colorado's head coach.
“I think the easiest thing to put this to bed is, regardless of anyone who has called or will call, they’re going to get the same answer, which will be denied permission to speak to our coach,” Hinchey told local media from his office on Thursday morning. “And that’s not going to change.”
Pareja had been linked with FC Dallas’ opening over the last week, although he mostly dismissed the rumors when speaking with the media on Wednesday. Hinchey said the decision to deny the unnamed club (he didn't acknowledge it was Dallas) the chance to speak with Pareja was not his alone. It was collective.
“Our coach wants to stay here,” said Hinchey, who wouldn’t comment when asked if the Rapids had plans to discuss a contract extension and/or raise for Pareja. “He’s our coach and he’ll be here, and we’re excited about it.”
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Pareja played for Dallas from 1998-2005 and served as an assistant there from 2006-11, before the Rapids hired him as their head coach in January 2012. The connection drew plenty of speculation that Pareja could bolt for his former home of more than a decade to replace the now-departed Schellas Hyndman, although it's not clear if Dallas actually was the team placing the phone call to the Rapids this week.
But after the Rapids’ eye-catching 2013 season, where Pareja surprisingly steered his young squad into the fifth spot of the Western Conference, Hinchey intends to hold onto his head coach for the foreseeable future.
“He’s our man,” Hinchey said of Pareja. “I respectfully declined the request, and I’m prepared to do that as long as we’re all together and making this progress.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.