Orlando City Get Oscar Pareja

By  //  December 16, 2019

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Orlando City needed a positive response when they announced the departure of coach James O’Connor at the end of last season. Oscar Pareja is the new manager of Orlando City SC.

Orlando City needed a positive response when they announced the departure of coach James O’Connor at the end of last season. The campaign had ended as a miserable failure, just as arguably every season since their arrival in the MLS has.

A capable manager with a strong personality needed to be brought in and the club finally seems to have found one. Oscar Pareja is the new manager of Orlando City SC.

If you’re a fan of soccer and you follow the MLS, Pareja should be a man that needs no introduction. The Colombian coached is a seasoned pro and picked up both the MLS Supporters Shield and the US Open Cup during his time with FC Dallas in 2016. He was named Coach Of The Year in recognition of his efforts that year.

Since leaving MLS, he’s been coaching in Mexico, most recently with Club Tijuana, where he resigned his position a few short weeks ago.

Pareja shouldn’t need any time to acclimatize to the country or the league competition and will arrive in Orlando with confidence that he has both the talent and the resources to repeat former glories.

On paper, at least, he’s the most accomplished coach ever to sit in the manager’s chair.

Pareja will now find himself starting a new job, and probably having thoughts that will be very similar to the thoughts of his predecessors upon taking the position.

Orlando appears to have all the resources to succeed in the MLS – so how and why hasn’t it happened for them yet? They have one of the best stadiums in the country, and one of the largest and most enthusiastic fan bases.

The recently upgraded training facilities are on par with those that can be found at many major European clubs, and the Development Academy is geared up to provide Orlando with the American soccer superstars of the future.

All of the pieces are in place, and yet The Lions have never come close to the playoffs. Parejo’s job is to make history – a task that will certainly appeal to the ambitious coach.

If he wants to hit the ground running next season, he’ll have to start by addressing issues within the playing squad. The current squad appears to be unbalanced and is full of glaring holes.

Lamine Sane, to the surprise of everybody, has been allowed to leave. That means a new center back is an immediate priority. The departures of Will Johnson and Sacha Kljestan have left vacancies in midfield.

Almost $5m in cap space has been cleared by the extensive pruning exercise, but finding the right players to fill the void will be of the utmost importance to the club and their coach.

Player recruitment is arguably an area the Lions have struggled with in the past – not that they can’t attract players, but that they’ve prioritized the wrong areas.

Brazilian legend Kaka was an incredible marquee signing during the early days in the MLS, but Kaka was the standout star of a team that wasn’t on his level. He was great theater, but no one player is capable of carrying a mediocre team to major honors on his own.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic recently discovered that at LA Galaxy, who are also arguably paying the price for putting individual stars above team structure in recent years.

The biggest name player currently at the club is Luis Nani, who fans are yet to see the best of. He was the top scorer last season, but at 33 not yet so old that he shouldn’t still be able to produce the form he was capable of during his prime years with Manchester United.

Only two years ago, he was playing for the Portuguese national side with Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo is a football legend – a player so iconic that his likeness has been used to promote online slots and video games. Mobile slots might be the best metaphor for Nani’s time at Orlando City so far.

When everything lines up for him, he’s a delight to watch, but you never know what you’re going to get. The unpredictability of online slots is what makes the hobby attractive to players.

It’s a far less desirable quality in the captain of your favorite soccer team. Parejo will want to see more from his star player. With the prestigious European Championship tournament happening in 2020, Nani will want to be in contention to represent his country at one final major event. That gives the player every reason to push harder.

It might be the case that there are major acquisitions already in the pipeline – and one of the names that have been mentioned suggests that the deal to bring Pareja in might have been agreed for some time before it was announced.

German Cano has been strongly connected with the Lions, and some reports say that a formal transfer offer has already been made to his club Independiente Medellin, who play in Pareja’s native Colombia. Cano, an Argentinian, has a goal-to-game record that has to be seen to be believed and has unquestioned pedigree despite never having been called upon to represent his country.

He is, however, 31. Like Nani, even if he’s capable of producing his best form, he’s a player for the short-term present rather than the long term future.

If the Lions really are looking to bring Cano in, it’s to be hoped that they also have ongoing talks happening somewhere with regard to younger players – the type that can be built around for the next three to five years or more.

None of this will be news to Pareja. He’ll have asked all of these questions before he signed a contract, and we doubt he would have signed it if he hadn’t been happy with the answers that he received.

Pareja has been convinced he’ll have the chance to win the MLS Cup in Orlando, and that presumably means he knows which players he’ll likely be working with.

We might say this every season, but it might just be time to shake off the disappointments of the past and look to the future for fans of the Lions. Everything might just be about to change for the better.

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