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Ten Keys To 2013 Review - No. 1: Oscar Pareja

Oscar Pareja's 2012 season and Oscar Pareja's 2013 season were like night and day. And in that metaphor, there was a hailstorm and bombings going on during the night.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

This week, we're going to be taking a look back at the Ten Keys to 2013 series I put out prior to the season. Number one was Oscar Pareja.

Oscar Pareja improved as a manager by leaps and bounds in his second season. Even the staunchest anti-Pareja Rapids supporter would be hard pressed to say that he didn't improve at least a bit. His tactics were sharper and he stuck with ideas more often than he did in 2012, when he threw the proverbial poo at the wall nearly every chance he got. (As bad as Gabriel Torres at attacking midfielder was, we had no 'Drew Moor in the midfield' moments this time around.)

The results are right there in front of us, the numbers that the rather whiny anti-Pareja brigade were clamoring for non-stop last season. 51 points, a record for this team. One more goal for and 12 fewer goals against than last season. And, of course, a playoff spot that could have been even higher if not for two rather unfortunate key injuries at the end of it all.

Is there still room for improvement with Oscar? Most certainly. He perhaps needs to trust in his style of play a bit more often as he continues to build the team -- that may be what made him sit back and try the conservative lineups he tried when he was away from Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Either way, it'll be fun to watch him continue to grow with a very young and very talented team at his command in 2014.