The Colorado Rapids introduced today former United States National Team defender Fernando Clavijo as the new Head Coach of the Colorado Rapids. Terms and conditions of Clavijo's contract were not made public.
"We are delighted to welcome Fernando to our team and are extremely pleased that we were able to hire someone with his credentials and experience for this important position," said Charlie Wright, whose title going forward with the Rapids will be Chief Operating Officer and General Manager. "With Fernando's vast experience as a player and as a coach, both at the national and international levels, the Colorado Rapids will start a new era with the goal of winning an MLS Championship."
"It is a great honor and responsibility to be able to coach the Colorado Rapids," said newly-appointed Rapids Head Coach Clavijo. "This club has had some great players and some great moments in its history, but has never been able to win the big game and take home a championship. Winning that championship for this franchise, for its fans, for its owners, for its players, and for its tradition is my goal, and my work starts today."
"I want to thank Marcelo Balboa for his assistance in compiling a list of the top candidates that we interviewed for this position," added Wright. "His relationship with all of the qualified applicants made the entire interview process and communication incredibly more effective. I was also very fortunate to have the advice and input from many leaders across the U.S. Soccer community."
Clavijo most recently held the Head Coaching position with the Haitian National Team that participated in the first round of the 2006 World Cup Qualifiers. In this role, Clavijo brought together scattered Haitian soccer talent from around the world, and despite political turmoil in the country, was able to field a team that featured rising stars such as current Rapids striker Jean Philippe Peguero and Alexandre Boucicaut from the Chicago Fire. He led the team to a 2-1-1 record during the World Cup Qualifiers (10-2-2 overall) that left Haiti short of the Second Round, dropping only one game.
Also at the international level, Clavijo also served as an assistant coach to the Nigerian National Team which participated in the 1998 World Cup held in France.
Along with Head Coach Bora Milutinovic, he led Nigeria to the Round of Sixteen after posting a 2-1 record, beating European heavyweights Spain and Bulgaria along the way.
During his MLS coaching stint, Clavijo served three seasons as the Head Coach of the New England Revolution, from 2000 to 2002. With Clavijo at the helm, the Revolution produced some of their most impressive accomplishments. In 2001, the Revs made an exceptional run through the U.S. Open Cup tournament and into the title game, falling in overtime to the Los Angeles Galaxy. This was the first time the Revolution had ever advanced to a championship finale. In Clavijo's debut season of 2000, the Revolution had their most successful season ever, finishing the regular season with a 13-13-6 record and winning a playoff game for the first time in franchise history. The Revs set a new team high in points, totaling 45 in 32 games played.
Clavijo, who was born in Uruguay, started his coaching career in 1989 while still a player, and began to focus full-time on coaching after his retirement at the age of 38 in 1994. His first coaching job without the responsibilities as a player took him to the Pacific Northwest in 1994. He was the head coach of the expansion Seattle Seadogs of the Continental Indoor Soccer League (CISL), and in just three years, he led the Seadogs to an impressive 27-7 record and the CISL Championship. In recognition of this great accomplishment, he was named the 1997 Coach of the Year. He also coached the Western Division in the CISL's All-Star game that year.
As a player, Clavijo has an equally impressive resume. After starting his professional career at 16 years of age in Uruguay, Clavijo and his wife, Martha, moved to the United States in 1979. At age 22, he began his US professional career in the United States. During the 80's, as a member of the St. Louis Storm, the San Diego Sockers, and the Los Angeles Lazers, Clavijo was one of the top players in the history of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL). He was named to the All-Star team 12 times, while also being tabbed the MISL Defender of the Year on three occasions. In 1990, MISL named him its player of the decade for the 1980's. His brilliance indoors even caught the attention of national team coach Milutinovic, who called Clavijo for national team duty. In 1994, his dream of playing in a World Cup came true, as he started and played the full 90 minutes in the U.S.A.'s historic upset of Colombia in the 1994 World Cup, held in the US.
Clavijo speaks fluent Spanish and currently resides in Davie, Florida with his wife Martha and two sons Jonathan and Nicolas. They plan to relocate to Colorado as soon as possible in 2005.
FERNANDO CLAVIJO (Clah-Vee-ho)
D.O.B.: January 23rd, 1956 in Maldonado, Uruguay
MLS Coaching Experience
2002 - New England Revolution: 12-14-2, MLS Cup Runners-Up, Head Coach (Until 5/23/02)
2001- NER: 7-14-6, Did not clinch a playoff spot, U.S. Open Cup Runners-Up, Head Coach
2000- NER: 13-13-6, Lost in the first round of playoffs, Head Coach
International Coaching Experience
2004 - Haitian National Team
2003 - United States Under-20 National Team, Assistant Coach
1998 - Nigerian National Team at 1998 World Cup, Assistant Coach