Rapids Coaching Search: If Oscar Pareja Leaves, Who To Replace Him?

Jeff Gross

There are a few potential candidates to take over for Oscar Pareja, assuming the whisperings of him stepping down are true.

It's not official yet, and absolutely nothing solid has come out from anyone since the Goal.com report was posted yesterday saying that Oscar Pareja stepped down from his position as Rapids head coach on Friday. So theoretically, this could all be hogwash and he could come back to work on Monday incredibly confused about what happened over the weekend.

Something makes me doubt that's going to happen. So, that in mind, we might have a bit of a quick (unless they don't mind a coach-less team come draft time) coaching search on our hands here. Who are some of the candidates that the Rapids could bring in?

The Possible Promotions

If the Rapids want to promote from within, it would probably be a good idea. It would give the team the best possible continuity going into a year where they're expected to be a contender in the Western Conference.

Wilmer Cabrera: The obvious choice to succeed Pareja. Knows the system, knows the team and would provide a seamless transition going into the draft. His lack of other head coaching experience at non-youth levels is a bit of a question mark, but he'll have a talented team that knows a system at his disposal if there are any bumps in the road. This one is getting more and more unlikely, as Chivas USA have been reported as closing in on the Colombian for their own head coaching position.

Dave Dir: If both Cabrera and Pareja end up leaving, the Rapids could go with a somewhat out-of-nowhere move and simply make Dir the head coach. He has plenty of history with MLS, coaching some very successful Dallas Burn teams back in the early days of the league and holding a winner's medal from the '97 Open Cup. There's plenty of Colorado coaching history prior to that, as well; he was the coach of the old Colorado Foxes before the Rapids and Major League Soccer even came into the picture. He even coached a game for the Rapids last year when Pareja was serving a suspension. This appointment would probably make our own Alex Petri pretty happy.

Jamie Smith: Because why the hell not at this point?

The Linked Candidates

Ives linked the Rapids with two names in his report.

John Spencer: Possibly the worst case scenario for Rapids fans. In Portland, he played a very direct, un-fun brand of soccer, and the Rapids long ago jettisoned the majority of their players best suited for that type of game. He was also a bit of a hothead as head coach in Portland, and there's probably a reason why he hasn't been able to find a new job since the Timbers removed him. If there's anyone on this list that would immediately strike me as the wrong move, it would be Spencer.

Robin Fraser: A much better candidate than Spencer, but still a question mark. Only boasts a terrible stint with Chivas USA among his head coaching experience, and his record with offense especially during his Chivas campaign despite having some decent names on his roster would be a worry. However, he has a bit of experience, was once an assistant to noted good manager Jason Kries, and might benefit from an overall more well-built team. Fraser also seems the type of guy who would be happy to buy in to the Rapids philosophy, which is a plus. Among the non-Cabrera candidates, probably the best bet.

The Former Candidates

Last time the Rapids were looking for a new coach, the Rapids were linked to a number of different guys. Some of them are still probably available for the Rapids to look at.

Richie Williams: Williams is a guy who people have been expecting to get a head coaching job in MLS for quite a while, and this might provide his chance after he interviewed in 2011 and lost out to Oscar Pareja. He has been interim head coach for the New York Red Bulls twice and was a long-time assistant there as well, but could never crack the head coaching job there. Since, he's been the head coach for the U-18 and U-17 US Men's teams. His experience with the US youth teams would be consistent with the team that the Rapids are trying to build, based on youth and built through the academy and draft.

Denis Hamlett: Currently an assistant coach in Montreal, Hamlett is best known for his time with the Chicago Fire, a fruitful period where he took some good Fire teams to two straight Eastern Conference Finals. He also interviewed for the Gary Smith vacancy in 2011. Probably wouldn't be a terrible hire, even if he's never been known as a superb head coach in his own right.

The Pipe Dream

Julio/Jorge Dely Valdes: This idea was pitched on twitter by Captied96.

I would absolutely lose my mind if this actually happened. Julio is a famously good tactician, his brother has ties with the Rapids, and he would assuredly know what to do if hooked up with Panamanian star Gabriel Torres again. Their Panama team was notoriously stingy in the back while free flowing up top during the latest World Cup cycle -- just the sort of thing the Rapids are built to accomplish, if last year is any indication -- and only Graham Zusi being a jerk got Julio kicked out of the Panamanian head coaching position.

It's not going to happen, but this is about the best-case scenario that I or anyone else could probably come up with that's even remotely within the realm of possibility.

Have your say guys, if Pareja is out, who would your favorite candidate be for the coaching position? Who do you think is most likely to get it? Did I miss any obvious candidates in this list?

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