Thank you Papi.
I’d been sitting on this piece for what feels like months now, but never found the energy to put it together. I jumped on to write here at BigD the same time Oscar Pareja came back to FC Dallas, so his arrival was always connected to mine in some weird way. So his exit was difficult to process. In fact, the first time I saw FC Dallas play in person was actually Pareja’s first game in charge - down in San Antonio for a pre-season friendly.
I don’t really remember the game, but I do remember a nice contingency of FCD fans made the trip, primarily made up of members of the Dallas Beer Guardians, and as Pareja made his first appearance on the field during warm ups, the fans erupted in the “Papi! Papi! Papi!” chant. It took all of three seconds for Pareja to turn, face the fans, smile and give a fist pump of approval as if to communicate, “I see you. I hear you. Thanks for being here. Let’s do this together.”
2014 was supposed to be a rebuilding year of sorts, and instead of that, Dallas’ “rebuild” never really materialized. Somehow Pareja, with all his guile and wisdom, figured out a way to simultaneously develop his players and still turn this side into a legit competing force for the duration of his coaching career.
Teams PPG since 2014
|Atlanta United FC||-||-||-||55||69||124||62||1.82|
|New York Red Bulls||50||60||57||50||71||288||57.6||1.69|
|Los Angeles Football Club||-||-||-||-||57||57||57||1.68|
|Sporting Kansas City||49||51||47||49||62||258||51.6||1.52|
|New York City FC||-||37||54||57||56||204||51||1.50|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC||50||53||39||52||47||241||48.2||1.42|
|Real Salt Lake||56||41||46||45||49||237||47.4||1.39|
|New England Revolution||55||50||42||45||41||233||46.6||1.37|
|Orlando City SC||-||44||41||39||28||152||38||1.12|
|San Jose Earthquakes||30||47||38||46||21||182||36.4||1.07|
|Minnesota United FC||-||-||-||36||36||72||36||1.06|
Pareja’s 1.63 PPG as head coach of Dallas is second to only the New York Red Bulls for teams that have been around since Papi took over. Overnight, Dallas went from a team without a sense of identity or direction to a team that legitimately had a chance to compete for trophies on all fronts every year.
When you look at the table, and think about competing for the Shield, MLS Cup, Open Cup and CCL, there aren’t many (if any at all) that you could name and say they legitimately had a shot of winning anything for the past five years collectively.
This was a Golden Age that Pareja ushered in for this club and one that we might’ve missed and underappreciated. As fans, all we can realistically ask is for our teams to be competitive and in the conversation. Pareja gave us that and more.
So, thank you Papi. Thank you for making FC Dallas relevant. Thank you for showcasing the local talent and giving Dallas natives a chance to represent the city. Thank you for building the Academy, for creating a pipeline of talent for years to come. Thank you representing this club professionally with grace and confidence. Thank you for always being patient with the media. Thank you for always shouldering the blame when things go wrong, and always praising the players when things go well. Thank you Papi, for embracing Dallas and calling it your home. We wish you nothing but the best and will be cheering you on your next challenge with Club Tijuana and wait patiently for your return either back in Dallas or as the next USMNT coach.
Busca La Forma.