Tijuana Xolos: Was letting go of Oscar Pareja right move for Xolos?

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Credit: Xolos

This past Monday, Nov. 25, the Tijuana Xolos officially announced that the team and Manager Oscar Pareja had parted ways via a “mutual agreement.” Most teams announce letting go of a Manager as a “mutual agreement,” but this clearly did not seem to be the case of what actually happened.

Club Tijuana had a very disappointing season, missing out on the playoffs, finishing in 11th place with 24 points. While this type of finish was underwhelming, other factors deeply hurt Pareja’s chances of staying with the Aztec Canines.

The main factor was the terribly inconsistent Xolos’ backline, which allowed 36 goals in the 2019 Apertura season. Only last-place Veracruz allowed more goals this season, and this was the highest tally allowed in the Xoloitzcuintles’ history.

Team captain lost his starting role in certain points of the season, and goalkeeper Gibran Lajud had the worst season of his career. The defense was not only bad, but Pareja did not know how to make it better as he consistently changed his backline during the season. Sitting out Braghieri, starting Jordan Silva, sitting out Omar Mendoza, starting Vladimir Lorona, starting Aldo Cruz, sitting out Aldo Cruz, Pareja even resorted to a backline of five at some points of the campaign.

The Colombian manager never had a consistent starting lineup during this 2019 Apertura season as he consistently made changes. Not just to his backline, but the attack as well, sometimes sitting out Ariel Nahuelpan and never really giving Camilo Sanvezzo enough playing time.

Tijuana’s attack suffered the consequences of not working consistently with the same players with 26 goals scored this season, which is not the best. The Xoloitzcuintles were shutout four times during the season and scored only one goal in eight of the 18 games in the 2019 Apertura.

Another inconsistency for Pareja was Tijuana’s away form as the border city side suffered heavily away from home. In the 2019 Apertura, the Aztec Canines had six losses and three wins on the road. In Pareja’s first season (2019 Clausura), the Xolos had five losses, three wins, and one draw in away games.

Pareja did get to the playoffs in the 2019 Clausura season but failed to surpass the quarterfinal stage. The Colombian manager also had a track record of working well with youngsters, and that was never really seen in his tenure with the Xoloitzcuintles.

Pareja now reportedly has an agreement to return to the MLS with Orlando City, while it is still unclear as to who will take over at Xolos. Former Independiente Manager Sebastian Beccacece is one of the names linked to the vacant Club Tijuana job, and he is an outside option, which the Xolos’ front office tends to favor.

Finding a consistent long-term project has been a problem for Club Tijuana throughout its short history as managers come and go constantly. In the first division (since 2011), the Xolos have had ten different managers, along with some interim managers as well.

Oscar Pareja, Antonio Mohamed, and Miguel Herrera are the only ones that have lasted two full seasons or more at the border city club. Pareja seemed to be the answer to the constant managerial changes with a plan in place. Still, the Xolos’ front office has not proved to be patient, and one bad tournament put the nail in the coffin for the Colombian manager.

It will be interesting to see where the Xoloitzcuintles go from here and whether they try someone new like Beccacece or someone that already has experience in the Liga MX instead. There are several managers available on the market, and it will also be interesting to see what players leave the club.

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