Even before Arizona United and FC Dallas had an official relationship, Arizona head coach Michael Dellorusso had his own personal relationship with FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja.
"He was my first phone call many times last year," Dellorusso said. "Through highs and lows, because you have to deal with both. It’s not just when things were going well, did I give him a call but also when we were finding success and how to maintain that. And how to keep things in perspective.
"So, yeah, we spoke quite a bit last year."
Dellorusso’s relationship with Pareja goes back to his days playing with FC Dallas, when Pareja was an assistant at the time.
In the club’s official press release about the FC Dallas partnership, Dellorusso spoke about his relationship with Pareja.
"Oscar has been an integral part in my development as a coach," Dellorusso said at the time. "We have extremely similar philosophies on the game, which is a major reason this affiliation will be beneficial for both clubs."
Dellorusso talked about those similarities after a training session on Wednesday, highlighting how he and the FC Dallas staff see the game the same way. How that manifests itself on the pitch remains to be seen as Dellorusso has an overhauled midfield, new goalie and several other new signings that he has to integrate into the club.
But player management is just one of the many things Dellorusso learned in his first season as a head coach (at any level) last season.
"I think it’s dealing with players and understanding them," said Dellorusso of the toughest lesson he learned in 2014. "Relating to them at the highest level and knowing what’s going to push them, but doing it in a collective manner so you see it not just as individual success, but as a group success."
Dellorusso said a lot of his conversations with Pareja had to do with working with players and dealing with the ebb and flow of a long season.
"He’s been a great shoulder to lean on and his ear’s always open for concerns and helping me out," Dellorusso said.
That open line of communication will also come in handy when it’s time for FC Dallas to loan players out to Arizona United.
While it appears that FC Dallas will have ultimate say on who will get loaned to the team, Dellorusso knows the entire roster and has even joked he knows the FC Dallas roster as much as Pareja and his staff.
And whenever the time comes for an FC Dallas player to be loaned out, Dellorusso will be well aware of what players he will get. And he’s confident they will be players that will help Arizona United win.
"Oscar knows I’m here to build a championship team and he’s there to do the same thing," Dellorusso said. "And he wants to develop the players that aren’t getting developed. … When he sends players here, they’ll develop. They’ll come into an environment they’re used to already. So that’s a win for them. And at the end of the day if they’re good enough and they can help us win a championship, it plays a great part for both of us."
When asked what is the understanding on how loaned players will be used (specifically if they will automatically get playing time) Dellorusso pointed out that even loaned players will have to earn their minutes.
"That’s part of being a professional soccer player," Dellorusso said. "It doesn’t matter what your resume says and it doesn’t matter what you did yesterday. It just matters how you can benefit the team and how you show up (to play.)"
Going into the club’s season opener tonight at Orange County Blues FC, Dellorusso still doesn’t know who will be loaned to the team. But in the short term that doesn’t matter. He has his second season to worry about. And Pareja will likely hear all about it.