To FC Dallas midfielder Ryan Hollingshead, Óscar Pareja’s return to MLS as Orlando City’s head coach is a major win for the league.
Pareja was Hollingshead’s coach at FC Dallas for four years, leading the team from his rookie season in 2014 until the coach left the club in 2018. In that time, the team won the U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters Shield.
“I’m so excited to see him back in MLS,” Hollingshead said. “I think that him coming back to Orlando — if you watch what he did with Dallas, he’s almost like an entrepreneur. He is so good at taking a club that’s maybe struggling, maybe hasn’t found their identity, maybe wants to figure out what are they going to be going forward, and making that happen.”
Hollingshead pointed out Pareja hasn’t been keen to stay in one spot in the past. The midfielder described the coach as a “businessman” who eagerly tackles the process of building up a club, but he doesn’t always stick around once he’s achieved that goal.
“He’s always antsy, always itching,” Hollingshead said. “He kind of formed this identity, formed this culture of Dallas and he was like, ‘OK, I’ve done that, I need to do something new.'”
But this tendency to hop from project to project is a feature of Pareja’s main strength — building the culture of a club that feels it has lost its way. With FC Dallas, Pareja did exactly this, taking a team that hadn’t qualified for the playoffs in two seasons to the conference semifinals and the conference finals in his first two seasons as coach.
Hollingshead says Orlando City — a team that has failed to make the playoffs for five straight seasons since joining MLS in 2015 — can expect Pareja to implement this same system this season.
“I think he’s going to do exactly that in Orlando,” Hollingshead said. “He’s gonna form this culture there, he’s going to say, ‘This is what we do, this is what we’re about’ and give Orlando an identity that they haven’t really had since they’ve entered the league. And once he gets there, hopefully he stays.”