HONOLULU, HI - FEBRUARY 22: Head coach Oscar Pareja of the Colorado Rapids oversees the team during a training session at the Aloha Stadium on February 22, 2012 in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Rapids are preparing for the Hawaiian Islands Invitational Soccer Tournament. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
With only two days remaining until first kick, Burgundy Wave is going to do a countdown of the ten most important things to watch on the Colorado Rapids in 2012 if they want to get themselves a run at their second MLS Cup. .
When the Rapids picked up Gary Smith from Arsenal and eventually promoted him to the head coaching position, they got themselves a guy who was a rather unknown commodity. He had done some coaching with Wimbledon and other teams, but there wasn't really anything to look at except for the knowledge that he was a pretty darned good scout. Even then, he had spent his entire career in England.
They went a different direction with new manager Oscar Pareja. He's never had a true managerial job until now, but he had a lot of smaller jobs and youth coaching sorts of things. He is also a guy who is intimately familiar with the league having spent so many years with FC Dallas. It's a new direction, and his moves so far in the offseason make it look very much like the Rapids have a 'win now' mentality.
The question is if Oscar will be able to manage well enough to win a lot in a tight Western Conference in his first real managerial job.
So will Pareja be able to lead one of the more 'unknown commodity' teams in the league to glory, or will he crack under pressure and be unable to gel a team filled with new players? Oscar's coaching style is going to be a style of play that we haven't seen in Colorado for a good while so it will certainly be entertaining... but will it be effective?