Equal and opposite.
For the quality of the relationship, there’s usually an equally negative feeling upon the breakup. The parting often detracts from the experience. It’s difficult to both appreciate the past and accept the ending. Only the most powerful relationships tend to marry both. But that feels like the situation in Dallas right now.
In surprising (shocking?) news first reported by Ives Galarcep at Goal.com, FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja seems set to leave MLS to take over Club Tijuana in Liga MX. On Monday, the club announced the two sides have agreed to part ways.
Some BIG MLS coaching news: I'm told that Club Tijuana is set to hire Oscar Pareja as their new manager. Pareja will be leaving FC Dallas after five seasons as head coach. #MLS #DTID #Xolos https://t.co/BAxSKc52tT— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) November 17, 2018
Pareja had become the unquestioned face of FCD over the last five years (if not longer). He made FCD into a consistent presence at the top of the table. He departs Texas with a list of accomplishments in his managerial tenure:
- 2016 Supporters’ Shield
- Tied on points for Supporters’ Shield in 2015 (lost on Goal Differential to RBNY)
- 2016 U.S. Open Cup
- Concacaf Champions League semifinal appearance
- Four playoff appearances in five years
- The third most cumulative regular season points (behind only RBNY and Seattle)
- Plus, this 👇
Every Homegrown in FCD history, all 23 of them, were either coached by Oscar Pareja at some level or signed by him. Probably the single most impressive coaching footprint in MLS history.— Will Parchman (@WillParchman) November 17, 2018
FCD, under Pareja, had become a team you could always put into the playoff picture without even looking at their roster. Oh, they lost a couple guys? Pareja will figure it out. He was a coach you could trust. He’s on a short list of MLS managers who you can slot into a playoff spot on the manager’s name alone. Regardless of the situation, he could find a way for his team to win; whenever he seemed to do something that didn’t make sense (Maxi Urruti as a No. 10?), you had to hold judgement. He had earned the benefit of the doubt.
Pareja would get almost any job in MLS he wants.
At the same time, it was fair to wonder what would come next for Dallas. They finished the season 6-7-5. They’ve played roughly the same style — gritty, tough to break down, quick in transition — for five straight years. But now they feel further from MLS Cup contention than they have since Pareja’s first year. If you watched them play Sporting Kansas City and the Portland Timbers at the end of the year, you could see the gulf.
Heading into 2019, you would once again trust that Pareja would find a way to get his team to the playoffs. But anything more than that? How would 2019 be different than 2018? And the same result in 2019 would yield a different reaction than it did in 2018.
Expectations have shifted in Dallas. A few years ago, making the playoffs was an accomplishment. This year, losing a home elimination game made everyone feel sick. Having it happen again next year…
And Pareja isn’t just any coach. He’s a club legend. He captained the team on the field and then oversaw the growth of the academy, the club’s prize possession. He’s the most beloved person in club history.
You leave a hero or you stay long enough to see yourself become the villain.
Nobody wants to see the statue fall from the pedestal. But Dallas had also become a little stale. Those statues are stickied on there, not cemented.
Pareja has been a godsend for Dallas. They’d be crazy to want to see him leave. But deeper down, it feels like an outcome everyone can live with.