Colorado Rapids first-year coach Oscar Pareja has a long history with FC Dallas, spending the majority of his career with the club in multiple roles.
In his first trip back as a visitor, Pareja is more concerned about Colorado ending its slump.
The Rapids seek to avoid a fifth consecutive road loss Sunday night against Dallas, which is unbeaten in five home matches.
Pareja began his MLS career with New England in 1998 before being traded to Dallas later that season, ending his playing career with the team in 2005.
He was an assistant coach for Dallas from 2005-07, left for one year to help coach the U.S. under-17 national team, then returned as the team’s director of player development through last season.
Pareja, who took the Colorado head coaching job Jan. 5, said he expects to have some emotion about facing his former team, but his main concern is getting the Rapids (4-5-0) back on track. They fell 2-1 at New England on Wednesday, their fourth straight road loss.
“Honestly, I haven’t had time to think about it,” Pareja told the team’s official website. “I’m approaching this game the same way I’ve approached the first nine games. It’s simply a game with the same importance as the previous ones and the ones ahead. I haven’t had a chance to think about that extra component.”
Colorado has dropped four of five overall and will look to avoid the club’s first five-game road losing streak since April 26-June 28, 2008.
“It’s a new opportunity for the team to get an important result,” Pareja said. “I think the group is playing well. We are building and are in a process that continues maturing.”
The Rapids are 0-2-1 in their last three at Dallas, last winning there Sept. 4, 2008. Ending that winless streak likely won’t come easy against a Dallas team that is 3-0-2 on its home turf this season.
Brek Shea scored his second penalty kick in as many games as Dallas (3-3-3) played Los Angeles to a 1-all draw last Saturday. He exited in the 76th minute, though, because of a nagging injury that bothered him through a stretch of three games in eight days.
“I’ve been fighting turf toe since (April 21),” Shea told the league’s official website. “We’ve had the traveling and three games in a week so it finally caught up to me.”
Shea and his teammates got some rest over the past week but now face another rough stretch, with Sunday marking the first of three games in seven days.
“It’s part of the game, part of the season,” defender George John said. “Every team has to go through it, so we’re just going to have to be mentally prepared to have three matches in a short period of time.”
Coach Schellas Hyndman has been strategically working practices throughout the week to help his team be prepared for Sunday’s match but also well-rested.
“I not only have to give the guys a chance to catch their legs, but I’ve also got to save their legs for the games coming up,” Hyndman said.
The teams split two meetings last season after Colorado beat Dallas 2-1 for the 2010 MLS Cup.