The brief Franky Oviedo era in Tijuana lasted just three regular-season games as Oscar Pareja was officially named the new Tijuana Xolos manager on Tuesday, Nov. 27. With Oviedo, the Xolos failed to win a game, with two losses and a draw to close out a disappointing 2018 Apertura season. The Aztec Canines also struggled with Diego Cocca at the helm throughout most of the season and finished in 15th place with just 17 points.
Now it is time for a rebuilding phase at Club Tijuana, with a new manager in Oscar Pareja, and surely a plethora of players coming in and out of the team. Pareja, 50, has had a solid managerial career so far, but this is a polarizing move since the entirety of his managerial career has been in MLS.
Most people in and around Mexican soccer still consider MLS to be an inferior league to the Liga MX, thus the move has caused understandable controversy among Xolos’ fans. Pareja had an extensive playing career from 1987-2005 and played in MLS with the New England Revolution and FC Dallas from 1998-2005.
The Colombian then transitioned into coaching in MLS in 2005 as FC Dallas’ assistant coach until 2011. Pareja received his first major managing gig with the Colorado Rapids in 2012, where he stayed on until 2014 before going back to FC Dallas as their manager.
The South American boss enjoyed the most successful stint of his managerial career with FC Dallas, where he won the MLS’ Supporters Shield and U.S. Open Cup in 2016. Pareja finished fourth in the MLS Western Conference with FC Dallas this past season and consistently made the playoffs with the Texas-based team in his tenure with the club.
The Xoloitzcuintles made the semifinals of the Liga MX in Diego Cocca’s first season with the club earlier in the year, but the front office lost their patience after a lackluster 2018 Apertura season. Pareja will likely be on a short leash, like Cocca and other Club Tijuana managers in the past, especially with Diego Maradona’s success with Xolos’ affiliate team, Dorados de Sinaloa.
Pareja has plenty of experience working with youth players as he was even an assistant coach with the U.S. U-17 national team back in 2007. The Border City Dogs are not a superpower when it comes to producing young talent, but there are definitely plenty of promising players, like Daniel Lopez and Carlos Higuera, that have come through the ranks recently.
The 50-year-old manager is a very intriguing choice for Club Tijuana, and has the potential as a long-term project if everything goes well.