What was hoped to be a quiet(er) off-season than last year was turned on its head last week when it was reported that Oscar Pareja had decided to leave the Rapids. At the time of the writing of this article there were still some unknowns, but it appears that Pareja is on his way out of town and Dallas his destination.
Oscar has been a bit of a divisive figure for some supporters. There are those who look at Pareja as the one who got the Rapids away from the physical defensive teams of Gary Smith to more of the prototypical "Beautiful Game" that many soccer fans prefer. But there are those who did not like Oscar's rotation strategies or his game management.
This is certainly not a piece about whether or not Oscar was a good manager or a bad one. I will not make that judgement as I will support this team regardless of who runs it. For me this is more about choice. The choice to do what one wants. And the choice that comes when professionals participate in sport.
At times sports fans can have this magical notion that our favorite player will stay with a particular team forever. And in Denver we have examples of this happening. But the reality in soccer is that a player rarely stays with a team for the length of their career. For me, I will always support the crest on the front of the shirt and everyone who wears it. Regardless as to what the name on the back is. This is the Colorado Rapids, not the Colorado Irwins or Colorado Moors. (Ed note: That's actually kind of a cool name.)
Which brings me back to choice. There is evidence that some players in sport hold out for more money or better contract terms, even when they have a contract. There is evidence of teams who cut players or fire coaches before their contracts are up. Sports is a business and our Rapids are no different.
And so we have Oscar. I do not claim to know all of the details as to what went down. I don't know if the Rapids Front Office or Pareja is to blame for this mess. For me, that is not relevant. What is relevant is that all parties here have a choice, and if Oscar has chosen to leave the Rapids for FC Dallas, then that is his choice. I am not going to hold that against him or bad-mouth him or get pissed he left. I will thank him for his time, a great 2013, and get ready for 2014. Because this team is loaded, no matter who is roaming the sidelines.