This post includes the English and Spanish variations of a story I wrote recently for the Denver Post.

Get out your Español for the version that appeared in print and online in Spanish:

http://www.vivacolorado.com/ci_23315270/el-idioma-del-t-cnico-scar-pareja-es

Here it is posted in English (although not the original text from me):

http://blogs.denverpost.com/rapids/2013/05/29/the-technical-language-of-rapids-coach-oscar-pareja-is-good-soccer/25007/

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I’m including the drafts below.

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Original

Colorado Rapids court Hispanic soccer fans
By Patrick Shea

The Colorado Rapids won the Major League Soccer championship in 2010, but the team has been trying to win the hearts of the Hispanic community since the league began in 1996.

Hired in 2012, head coach Oscar Pareja is a former professional player who understands soccer. More important: The Colombian-born midfielder understands MLS.

“The league has been structured to grow slowly,” Pareja said. “And the financial part of the league is one of the keys to make this happen. So, it can be difficult when the normal fan asks you why we don’t bring in a superstar from Barcelona who is 23 or 24 years old. The league cannot afford them yet.

“Instead,” Pareja explained, “the league is trying to get affordable young guys who are still in their prime — or are almost in their prime. The Rapids have Latin American players who can attract the community. I’m talking about Martin [Rivero, Argentina]. I’m talking about Kevin [Harbottle, Chile], Hendry Thomas [Honduras], Diego Calderón [Ecuador], and Germán Mera [Colombia].”

Pareja shined as an MLS player in Dallas from 1998 to 2005. Then as a youth coach, he helped make the Development Academy in Dallas become the gold standard, a process he hopes to replicate in Colorado. His ability to develop young players from all backgrounds sets Pareja apart from other coaches.

“This country is so big,” Pareja said. “It’s a multicultural country that gives us the advantage to grow in many different directions. We want to attract the Hispanic community, which is natural for me because I’m Hispanic. But the club wants to attract all cultures. I think it’s a collage of mentalities that you can mold together and we all learn from each other.”

Developing young Hispanic players, particularly Mexicans, “is a way to show that we don’t just want you to buy a ticket, but we want you here for the long term,” Pareja said. “Because, some day your kid might play for the club, or your kid will come to cheer for the team the way you cheer for your team in Mexico.”

A head coach presents his philosophy on the field, but Pareja is not the only one attracting Hispanic fans.

Now in its seventh year, the Sueño MLS tryouts came to Colorado for the first time in April, thanks to an aggressive campaign from the Rapids front office. Sueño MLS is a nationwide talent search broadcast on Univision Network’s República Deportiva, and it’s not a gimmick. The first winner in 2007, Jorge Villafaña, is still on the Chivas USA roster. The 2008 winner, Rogelio Funes Mori, now plays for River Plate in Argentina.

Although none of the six players who represented the Rapids won the Sueño MLS prize this year, the tryout exposed the coaching staff to hundreds of Hispanic players hidden in the shadows.

Today, the Rapids Development Academy covers the costs for U-14, U-16, and U-18 boys players. As Pareja explained, “Now the club is making a big effort to pay the bills and subsidize their expenses because playing in this country is not cheap.”

Other events like the Sueño MLS tryout appeal to players and their families. Similar to the “Copita Rapids” tournament in 2012, Colorado will host “MLS ¡Futbolito!” on June 1 before the Rapids play FC Dallas at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. This 4v4 tournament attracts all ages and abilities, with $3,000 for the premier division finalists.

In addition to player appearances, camps, and clinics, increased media coverage in Spanish helps promote the team. Spanish-language Unimas will televise two Rapids games, and radio listeners can catch every match in Spanish on La Onda AM 1150 with Esdrel Peinado. Peinado broadcasts home games from the stadium and away games from one of the many bars in Denver that host official “viewing parties.”

For 18 years, the Rapids have been evolving slowly. Coach Pareja encourages soccer fans of all kinds to take part in this growth process.

“We are creating a philosophy here of playing good soccer with more technical players who understand the game as an art,” Pareja explained. “I invite fans to come and help us grow too. This team always has the drive to play the game well.”

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First edit/rewrite:
How will the Colorado Rapids court Mexican and Hispanic fans

By Patrick Shea

Especial para Viva Colorado

Commerce City – One year after bringing home the Major League Soccer championship, the Colorado Rapids began a new era under head coach Oscar Pareja, a seasoned MLS international player who became a fan favorite in Dallas and later, as a coach, developed a youth program that became a model for professional soccer in the U.S.

Many would imagine that by hiring Pareja, the Rapids would finally reach out to the Denver Hispanic fan that have been so evasive over the years.

Truth of the matter is that the Rapids don’t have to speak English or Spanish to reach Hispanics. Pareja’s teams are known for speaking futbol, and good futbol appeals to both Hispanics and the regular fan base because his style of play relies on ball control and winning games with a good show.

“This country is so big,” Pareja said. “It’s a multicultural country that gives us the advantage to grow in many different directions. We want to attract the Hispanic community, which is natural for me because I’m Hispanic. But the club wants to attract all cultures. I think it’s a collage of mentalities that you can mold together and we all learn from each other”.

But good football isn’t all in MLS, there is also a sporting cultural gap that most, if not all, coaches coming from Europe and Latin American – used to big budgets and big names – lack, and that Pareja has understood quite well over his almost 20 years in the league.

“The league has been structured to grow slowly, and the financial part of the league is one of the keys to make this happen”, Pareja said. “The league is trying to get affordable young guys who are still in their prime — or are almost in their prime”.

The Rapids fields Latin American players like Martin Rivero (Argentina), Kevin (Harbottle, Chile), Hendry Thomas (Honduras), Diego Calderón (Ecuador) and Germán Mera (Colombia). They are not the big shots of Mexican or European soccer, but they are affordable for MLS teams and this is where Pareja edges most international coaches in MLS.

Memorial Day against Chivas USA

The Rapids have been averaging 13,369 fans at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park this season, but for this weekend’s game against Chivas USA – the most Mexican team in MLS – is expected to be a sell out: there were 17,000 tickets sold one week prior to kick-off.

But the game is going to be a sell out because of Chivas USA, a sister club to Mexico’s biggest soccer club known as Chivas de Guadalajara, nor his flamboyant coach José ‘Chelis Sanchez, a Mexican fan favorite best known for bringing to limelight underdog Puebla FC a few seasons ago in the highly competitive Mexican league.

The Rapids are hosting Chivas USA during Memorial Day weekend at the same time the largest youth soccer tournament in Colorado is happening in town. Each team that registered to the Real Colorado Cup, with boys and girls from ages 9 to 18, got 15 tickets for the game against Chivas USA. Last year, the tournament drew 342 teams, which accounts for approximately 5,100 tickets. It all rounds up when adding these tickets to the average attendance this season to the 18,000-seat stadium.

La ruta de Pareja

Pareja arrived in MLS as most Latin American players do today. He wasn’t a big name in his native Colombia, though he did play for international for both his club and national team (he played 11 times for Colombia).

In MLS, Pareja shined in Dallas from 1998 to 2005, where became a team captain, a fan favorite and was nicknamed ‘Papi’. He then became an assistant coach for the first team before landing another job as an assistant for the U.S. U-17 team (curiously, working under Colombian expat and former World Cup player Wilmer Cabrera, now his top assistant at the Rapids).

Pareja gave up his stint with the U-17 national team, which was en route to the youth FIFA World Cup, to take over as the lead coach for the Dallas youth teams.

During Sueño MLS, a semi-reality try-out broadcasted by Spanish-language TV Univision, Pareja found one of his youth gems, Rogelio Funes Mori, an Argentinean born player who was living then in Dallas, won the try out and after playing for Pareja’s youth team made the professional team at River Plate, one of two Argentinian top clubs.

Another Sueño MLS winner, Jorge Villafaña, made the Chivas USA roster in 2007 and is still playing professionally.

In April, the Rapids hosted Sueño MLS for the first time. Although none of the four Denver-based players who represented the Rapids won the Sueño MLS prize this year, the tryout exposed the coaching staff to hundreds of Hispanic youth players hidden in the shadows.

Developing young Hispanic players, particularly Mexicans, “is a way to show that we don’t just want you to buy a ticket, but we want you here for the long term,” Pareja said. “Because, some day your kid might play for the club, or your kid will come to cheer for the team the way you cheer for your team in Mexico.”

Today, the Rapids youth academy, the Dallas version Pareja led before coming to the Rapids, covers the costs for its U-14, U-16, and U-18 boys players.

For any youth player aspiring to play professionally here in Denver, Pareja is the guy who makes the ultimate decision.

“Now the club is making a big effort to pay the bills and subsidize their expenses because playing in this country is not cheap”, Pareja said. “We are creating a philosophy here of playing good soccer with more technical players who understand the game as an art,” Pareja added.

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My edit/rewrite:

How will the Colorado Rapids court Mexican and Hispanic fans?

By Patrick Shea

Especial para Viva Colorado

Commerce City – One year after bringing home the Major League Soccer championship in 2010, the Colorado Rapids began a new era under head coach Oscar Pareja, a seasoned MLS international player who became a fan favorite in Dallas and later, as a coach, developed a youth program that became a model for professional soccer in the U.S.

Many would imagine that by hiring Pareja, the Rapids would finally reach out to the Denver Hispanic fanthat have been so elusive over the years.

Truthfully, the Rapids don’t have to speak English or Spanish to reach Hispanics. Pareja’s teams are known for speaking fútbol, and good fútbol appeals to Hispanics and everyone because this style of play relies on ball control and winning games while putting on a good show.

“This country is so big,” Pareja said. “It’s a multicultural country that gives us the advantage to grow in many different directions. We want to attract the Hispanic community, which is natural for me because I’m Hispanic. But the club wants to attract all cultures. I think it’s a collage of mentalities that you can mold together and we all learn from each other.”

But good fútbol is not guaranteed. Pareja has understood the economics of MLS quite well during his 20 years in the league.

“The league has been structured to grow slowly, and the financial part of the league is one of the keys to make this happen,” Pareja said. “The league is trying to get affordable young guys who are still in their prime  or are almost in their prime.”

Pareja fields Latin American players like Martin Rivero (Argentina), Kevin Harbottle (Chile), Hendry Thomas (Honduras), Diego Calderón (Ecuador) and (when his paperwork is secured) Germán Mera from Colombia. They are not the big shots of Mexican or European soccer, but they are affordable for MLS teams, and this is where Pareja edges most international coaches in the league.

Memorial Day against Chivas USA

The Rapids have been averaging 13,369 fans at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park this season, but this weekend’s game against Chivas USA – the most Mexican team in MLS  is expected to be a sell out (more than 17,000 tickets sold one week prior to kick-off).

But the game is not going to be a sell out because of Chivas USA, a sister club to Mexico’s biggest soccer club known as Chivas de Guadalajara. Nor will it be a sell out because of flamboyant coach José “Chelis”Sanchez, a Mexican fan favorite best known for bringing to limelight underdog Puebla FC a few seasons ago in the highly competitive Mexican league.

The Rapids are hosting Chivas USA during Memorial Day weekend when one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in Colorado will take place at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Park complex and other fields in town. Each team that registered for the Real Colorado Cup, with boys and girls from ages 9 to 18, received 15 tickets for the game against Chivas USA. With 541 teams, this accounts for 8,115 fans in the 18,000-seat stadium.

Pareja‘s route to MLS

Pareja arrived in MLS as most Latin American players do today. He was not the biggest name in his native Colombia, though he did play for Independiente Medellín and Deportivo Cali, and he scored three goals in 11 appearances with the Colombian national team.

In MLS, Pareja shined in Dallas from 1998 to 2005, becoming team captain and a fan favorite with the nickname “Papi.” He then became an assistant coach for the first team before landing another job as an assistant for the U.S. U-17 team (curiously, working under Colombian expat and former World Cup player Wilmer Cabrera, now his top assistant with the Rapids).

Pareja ended his stint with the U-17 national team, which was en route to the youth FIFA World Cup, to take over as the lead coach for the Dallas youth teams.

During Sueño MLS in 2008, a soccer tryout broadcast by Spanish-language TV Univision, Pareja found one of his youth gems, Rogelio Funes Mori. The Argentinean-born player was living in Dallas at the time and joined the Development Academy after winning the contest. Seven months later, he earned a spot at River Plate in Argentina and continues to score goals for them today.

The original Sueño MLS winner, Jorge Villafaña, made the Chivas USA roster in 2007 and is still with the team.

In April, the Rapids hosted Sueño MLS for the first time, thanks to an aggressive campaign from the front office. Although none of the three Denver-based players who represented the Rapids won the Sueño MLS prize this year, the tryout exposed the coaching staff to hundreds of Hispanic youth players hidden in the shadows.

Developing young Hispanic players, particularly Mexicans, “is a way to show that we don’t just want you to buy a ticket, but we want you here for the long term,” Pareja said. “Because, some day your kid might play for the club, or your kid will come to cheer for the team the way you cheer for your team in Mexico.”

Today, the Rapids Development Academy covers the costs for its U-14, U-16 and U-18 boys players.

“Now the club is making a big effort to pay the bills and subsidize their expenses because playing in this country is not cheap,” Pareja said. “We are creating a philosophy here of playing good soccer with more technical players who understand the game as an art,” Pareja added.

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