Soc­cer star Fer­nando Clav­ijo dies

Tulsa World - - Our Lives -

FRISCO, Texas — Fer­nando Clav­ijo, a sur­prise starter for the 1994 U.S. World Cup team who went on to a long coach­ing and man­age­ment ca­reer in Ma­jor League Soc­cer, has died. He was 63.

FC Dal­las said he died Fri­day at his home in Fort Laud­erdale, Florida, from mul­ti­ple myeloma. Clav­ijo was the team's tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor from March 2002 un­til he stepped down last Septem­ber be­cause of his health.

In­ducted into the U.S. Na­tional Soc­cer Hall of Fame in 2005, Clav­ijo made 61 ap­pear­ances for the U.S. na­tional team from 1990-94, mostly as a de­fender.

“Fer­nando was an im­por­tant leader with three MLS clubs, and he played a key role in the league's player de­vel­op­ment strat­egy,” MLS Com­mis­sioner Don Gar­ber said in a state­ment Satur­day. “More im­por­tantly, he was a joy to ev­ery­one who knew him and in­spired count­less young play­ers.”

An emerg­ing player in the fi­nal years of the North Amer­i­can Soc­cer League, Clav­ijo was part of the gen­er­a­tion ham­pered by the lack of a top-level Amer­i­can league be­tween NASL's demise af­ter the 1984 sea­son and MLS's launch in 1996.

Born in Uruguay, Clav­ijo be­gan a 22-year pro­fes­sional play­ing ca­reer at age 16 for Ate­nas of San Car­los, and six years later moved to the U.S. to sign with the New York Apollo of the Amer­i­can Soc­cer League in 1979. He played for NASL's Golden Bay Earthquakes in 1983 and `84, and he also played in­door soc­cer for the New York Ar­rows (1981-83), San Diego Sock­ers (1984-88), Los An­ge­les Laz­ers (1988-89) and St. Louis Storm (1989-92).

He be­came a U.S. cit­i­zen in 1987, and de­buted for the U.S. team in a Novem­ber 1990 ex­hi­bi­tion against the Soviet Union in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

Clav­ijo had not started in six games when coach Bora Mi­luti­novic in­serted him in place of Cle Kooiman on the back­line along­side Marcelo Bal­boa, Alexi Lalas and Paul Caligiuri for the Amer­i­cans' sec­ond match of the 1994 World Cup against Colom­bia, among the tour­na­ment fa­vorites. Clav­ijo was not told he would be start­ing un­til just be­fore the team left its ho­tel. The Amer­i­cans won 2-1 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Cal­i­for­nia, putting them­selves in po­si­tion to ad­vance to the knock­out phase.

“It's one of the great­est feel­ings of my life,” he said af­ter the match. “I knew this kind of game suits me bet­ter. They have a of speed up front.”

De­spite his age, Clav­ijo was the third- or fourth-fastest player on the Amer­i­can team. He made a key play in the sixth minute when An­thony de Avila's shot bounced off Amer­i­can Mike Sor­ber, hit a post and bounced back into the penalty area. With goal­keeper Tony Me­ola un­able to re­cover, de Avila's shot to­ward the empty net, but the ball hit Sor­ber again and bounced in front of the open goal, where Clav­ijo cleared the ball.

“Some­body had to,” said.

Clav­ijo started his coach­ing ca­reer as a player-coach with the St. Louis Storm of the Ma­jor In­door Soc­cer League in 1991. Af­ter his play­ing days were done, he coached sev­eral teams in­clud­ing the Seat­tle SeaDogs of the Con­ti­nen­tal In­door Soc­cer League, the Florida Thun­derCats of the Na­tional Pro­fes­sional Soc­cer League.

Dur­ing his ten­ure in Dal­las' front of­fice, the team fin­ished with MLS's best reg­u­lar sea­son record in 2016, when it won the U.S. Open Cup. lot Clav­ijo


Haiti men's na­tional team soc­cer coach Fer­nando Clav­ijo watches his team warm up at the Orange Bowl in Mi­ami, Florida, in 2004.

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