New Paraguay coach Juan Carlos Osorio not waiting to put his stamp on national team
During his time in charge of the Paraguayan national team, Gerardo Martino said that to carry out the job it was necessary to be a competent travel agent. Paraguay's players are strewn all over the globe. The coach not only has to follow their progress in many different leagues. He also has to make sure the logistics are in place to bring them all together.
New Paraguay coach Juan Carlos Osorio is doubtlessly making the same discovery. On Tuesday he called up his first squad for the next FIFA dates. Nine domestically based players will be added later, but a total of 27 foreign-based players were named from across 10 countries. China has one; Europe provides seven from five different countries; five come from Brazil and another four from Argentina; Mexico has four; and the United States supplies six, more than any other single country.
Osorio, of course, knows the CONCACAF region well. He was worked in the U.S. and, to the surprise of many, stood down from the Mexico job after the World Cup in order to take charge of Paraguay.
Both the quantity and the age of these Paraguayans speak highly of the way that MLS has consolidated itself with a model that includes effective scouting of young South American talent. Some of these players -- and they are Cristian Paredes of the Portland Timbers, Jesus Medina from New York City FC, Miguel Almiron and Hector Villalba from Atlanta United, Alejandro Romero Gamarra from New York Red Bulls and Cristian Colman from FC Dallas -- would seem to be essential to the future of the Paraguayan national team. Villalba and Romero Gamarra will need to come up with something special in order to have a long international career; as naturalised Argentines, they will have to work hard to win over the Paraguayan public and prove that they deserve a shirt that could have gone to a locally born player.
Almiron, especially, seems set to be a major force, with his blinding pace and left-footed quality. Medina, too, has a sweet left foot, and Paredes is a potential midfield powerhouse.
None of these players, though, will be in competitive action for their country next month. Osorio has elected to use the coming FIFA dates to get to know his players, and to work with them on the training ground in a quest to implant an idea of play.
A convert to direct football since his time in England, Osorio was drawn to the Paraguay job in part by the country's tradition of swift attacks and aerial strength. A football nomad, he usually makes a point of working with local staff, and he has former Paraguay internationals Justo Villar and Gustavo Morinigo included in his setup.
"We consider that it was best to familiarise ourselves with a working method first," he said, explaining the option to train next month rather than play matches. "The most important thing in a game of football is the taking of decisions -- and it is the thing that is trained least."
It was a typically fascinating insight from a coach who was made a bold choice in taking charge of a country that failed to reach either of the last two World Cups. But therein lies the challenge.