ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando City SC has appointed former MLS Coach of the Year Óscar Pareja as the Club’s newest head coach, it was announced today. Pareja returns to Major League Soccer (MLS) from Club Tijuana of Liga MX, a stint that succeeded an accomplished and storied tenure at FC Dallas.
The Lions will welcome Pareja to the City Beautiful on Thursday, Dec. 5 in a press conference at Exploria Stadium.
“Óscar is the perfect fit for the Orlando City organization, something I can say with confidence from our history of working together,” Orlando City SC EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said. “He possesses the talent and passion to help our Club reach both its short term goals on the field and long-term plans for the organization. Óscar checked all the boxes we were looking to fill and his vision is aligned with the plans that we have as a Club - to invest in and develop players at all levels of our pyramid to be both proud and successful when wearing the Orlando City crest.”
“I’m very excited to be returning to Major League Soccer and to be joining the Orlando City organization,” Pareja said. “The future of this Club is extremely bright, with so many opportunities to grow and succeed at all levels of the Club - from the new training facility to the world-class stadium and from the Development Academy all the way to the MLS side. Orlando is an incredible soccer city, with an especially passionate and dedicated fan base. I can’t wait to get started.”
Prior to his time in Mexico, Pareja spent five seasons as the head coach at FC Dallas, where he worked directly with Muzzi to develop one of the most successful pyramids - from Academy to First Team - in MLS.
During his coaching tenure at Dallas, Pareja compiled a 78-49-43 record, featuring a 2016 season that included a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title, the MLS Supporters’ Shield and MLS Coach of the Year honors for the Medellin, Colombia native. 2016 marked the second-straight season Pareja led his team to a 60 point campaign - the first MLS team to do so - accomplishing the feat the season prior when he also guided Dallas to the Western Conference championship.
Under Pareja’s tenure, FC Dallas reached the postseason in four of five seasons. He departed Dallas as the winningest head coach in FC Dallas history and second all-time in the franchise’s tenure, dating back to its years as the Dallas Burn.
Prior to becoming Dallas’ head coach, Pareja spent time developing his craft in different roles and levels within the organization, including three seasons as an assistant coach with the first team (2006, 2007, 2011) and, in 2008, he was named the Director of Player Development for the FC Dallas Youth program. During that time, Pareja built Dallas’ youth structure to be one of the best in the country. In the 2010-11 season, the same season that saw U.S. Soccer rank the FC Dallas Academy No. 1 in the nation, Pareja earned U-18 Academy Coach of the Year.
Pareja, 51, joined the MLS head coaching ranks in 2012 where he would spend two seasons as the manager of the Colorado Rapids, leading the club to the playoffs in 2013. Pareja also spent time coaching the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team from 2007-08.
As a player, Pareja played nearly 400 games in his home country of Colombia between Independiente Medellin (263 appearances) and Deportivo Cali (122 appearances). A talented midfielder, Pareja was allocated to the New England Revolution ahead of the 1998 season but was traded to the Dallas Burn after 13 games - a move that kicked off Pareja’s long tenure with the Dallas organization. He would go on to play 170 matches, tallying 13 goals and 47 assists in a Dallas uniform.
Pareja also featured on the international stage for his home country, totaling 11 caps for Colombia. In addition to scoring three goals for Los Cafeteros, Pareja also appeared in the 1991 Copa América.