Plenty of season awards require observations that are not always rational or accurately measurable. Aside from the Golden Boot, personal judgment is necessary. Great stories and season long narrative supersedes evidence.
As the season winds down, the coach of the year race centers on the men managing the top sides. Most notably Ben Olsen is the clear favorite given the remarkable year-to-year transformation. Though recent facts provide clear evidence that outdo the good storyline: Worst ever to at least a top two seed in the Eastern Conference.
Under the radar, however, there is a nominee that received accolades through most of the year, but only recently has overwhelming evidence of his deservedness presented itself. The Colorado Rapids’ late season collapse should heavily influence the coach of the year campaign for FC Dallas’s Head Coach Oscar Pareja.
FC Dallas is a win, or several other scenarios, away from locking up a playoff spot this week. FC Dallas is already 4 points better than last season with 3 games remaining. Pareja has the magic touch when it comes to young players. Not just developing Fabian Castillo into one of the bright young players (third in this year’s 24 under 24, compared to fifteenth in 2013), but discovering D II prospect and rookie of the year candidate Tesho Akindele during his time at Colorado.
Of course, such as the case with DC United and Ben Olsen, better players produce better results. FC Dallas didn’t make the wholesale changes that DCU did, but adding Andrés Escobar mid-season including the youngster should be worth a few extra points.
Pareja should not only be judged for improving FC Dallas year-to-year, but also receive credit for taking a Rapids team, which is the worst team in the league since August, to the playoffs last year. This season both FC Dallas and Colorado suffer injuries that lead to winless streaks. Colorado’s most impactful loss was centerback Drew Moor just before his centerback partner Shane O’Neill returned from his own injuries. FC Dallas’s injuries were further up the field with forward David Texeira and creative midfielder Mauro Díaz. Pareja was able to right the sinking SS Dallas with the emergence of Akindele and Castillo. Colorado never recovered.
How much time, effort and thought is put into the vote for coach of the year many be the determining factor if Pareja is to have a shot. This is a column that should have been written by many outlets, but the lack of media attention on the league limits outside opinions. It won’t be a crime if Pareja doesn’t win the award, just unfair.
This Week’s Throw In:
- The Columbus Crew nailed the new logo. It may not be something that will last more than a decade, but today it is effective and hits the proper symbolic notes. The timing seems a bit strange given the result of Toronto FC and the Houston Dynamo match having an impact on the Crew’s season. Nevertheless, this rebrand, rather than the MLS Next rebrand, seems more expected to the soccer community… or at least me.
- The Landon Donovan pseudo-testimonial seems more and more like a farce to sell tickets in what by all accounts will be an otherwise poorly attended match. The parameters on the playing time, the questions regarding Jurgen Klinsmann calling Donovan and the son emailing an apology are mucking up what should be a celebration. Whatever mishaps occur (let’s hope for none) are placed solely on USSF for forcing this situation while the wounds and bitterness still clearly exist between both parties.
- Speaking of Jurgen, he done break the soccer bubble Thursday with this quote: “I’m a deep believer in (the) promotion-relegation system.” Heads exploded. Twitter broke… well if people cared more about soccer in the US than a Tim Tebow touchdown pass it would have. Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria! Ted Westervelt getting a victory lap…