Soccer: Fernando Clavijo
“FC Dallas is very proud to have three representatives on the U.S. Under-20 National Team,” said FC Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo. “All three players are hard-working, talented young men with bright futures ahead of them.”
A native of Fort Worth, Top became the fifth Homegrown player to sign with FC Dallas on Jan. 12, 2011. Top made eight appearances for the FC Dallas Reserves in 2011, logging a total of 374 minutes. The 19-year-old forward recently broke into the starting lineup for FC Dallas. He picked up his first career assist on a goal scored by Blas Perez against Real Salt Lake on May 26, 2012. Top made his first start and played the full 90 minutes in a U.S. Open Cup match on May 29.
Garcia netted two goals in just 80 minutes of action last season with the FC Dallas Reserves. He has one assist for the 3-1-1 FC Dallas Reserves this season in just 47 minutes of action. Garcia also leads the FC Dallas Academy U-18 team with 18 goals in 23 games. The team currently leads the U.S. Soccer Development Academy with a record of 22-4-3 (69 points). Garcia verbally committed to the University of North Carolina in November.
A teammate with both Top and Garcia on the FC Dallas Academy U-18 team in 2011, Okwuonu played in 21 matches for the 10-1-5 conference champions last season. He then spent the second half of 2011 playing his freshman season at UNC, which claimed its second national championship in December. Originally from Edmond, Okla., Okwuonu started and played every match for the Tar Heels last fall, earning more minutes than any other field player on the team.
“Luis Perea came in and he was a player we were looking for special things from and it didn’t take us very long to find that it wasn’t a very good fit for us,” Hyndman said. “Now through mutual consent with Perea and FC Dallas, we felt like the best thing for both parties was to terminate the contract.”
And it wasn’t like FCD didn’t try to make this thing work with Perea.
“We tried to work with him, counsel him, do some of the things we needed done and he tried but I think at some point in time we just both mutually agreed that this wasn’t the best place for him,” Hyndman said.
Maybe we should have all seen this coming. After all, the matter-of-fact gaffer said several weeks back when asked about Perea that he was already having fitness issues and that he was concerned about how quickly he’d be able to adjust to MLS.
Hyndman also brought into question his newest striker’s work ethic, which is never a good thing for a player new to an organization to hear from his head coach. So, maybe Perea came here with the intention of killing some time until a better opportunity opened up or maybe it was something else but we may never know the truth.
Perhaps, it’s better to cut him loose and find another forward because they are definitely out there. With the beating Blas Perez has been taking thus far in his MLS career and the fact that it looks like FCD has little faith in young striker Ruben Luna at the current time, combined with the fact that preseason addition Scott Sealy can’t make his way back from injury, adding some more depth up top is now definitely at the top of Dallas’ list of priorities right now.
That and adding some more depth in the midfield.
Ex-Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo was brought in as Dallas’ new technical director for a reason. Now it’s time for him to work his magic.
The move raises a couple questions, first what does this say about brand new Technical Director Fernando Clavijo? And second, was Perea really that terrible?
After talking to a few people, I think this move can be laid at the feet of the current state of the team and David Ferreria's ankle. Coach Schellas Hyndman, and Clavijo I'm sure, know this team has a midfield problem. Another young striker with upside doesn't, at this time, help them much. If his team wants him back, then by all means let Perea go and get some midfield help in here.
So in the end, this move, at least from the info I'm getting, is more about what FCD can now go ad, rather than an indictment of Perea or Clavijo.
Here's the rest of the move...
FC Dallas has terminated the contract of Colombian striker Luis Perea by mutual consent, the club announced today.
Perea joined the team in March and appeared in two games, playing a total of 15 minutes with the first team.
A native of Medellin, Colombia, Perea spent his youth career with Atlético Nacional. In 2010, he appeared in 36 games for León de Huánuco, scoring 22 goals for the Peruvian side. The success led to a loan with Chilean football club Everton de Viña del Mar, where the young forward notched six goals in 13 games. Perea then remained in Peru to play for Universidad San Martin de Porres until the club folded in March.
What do you think his biggest strength is?
Hyndman: He got off a plane yesterday from Peru and played 45 minutes in the reserve game. He had some good moments and you could tell he had some moments where he was still trying to recover. The more he’s around us, the more he’ll understand the league-the speed of play, the physical play. I think his strengths may be target striker, somebody who does a good job on finishing.
Do you know what to expect from him as far as leadership goes?
Hyndman: I’m not sure. We don’t know him that well. I don’t expect him to be the player that Blas is or David is as far as international players coming in with leadership qualities because they’ve established themselves. I think it’s going to take Luis a little bit of time to kind of figure out the team, what’s going on and in developing relationships.
Can he also play in the midfield or is he strictly a striker?
Hyndman: I think he’s probably going to be strictly a forward.
Guess hiring Clavijo has already paid dividends, right?
“Yeah, not only that but he has a green card because he went to school in the States and Fernando was able to turn that ITC around and that always takes a period of time. So things have gone extremely smooth.”
“We’re very happy to add Luis Perea to our roster,” said FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman. “He comes from an interesting soccer background. His father played for Colombia in the 1990 and 1994 World Cup. He came to the United States when he was 12 years old and finished high school in Florida before going back to Colombia to play professionally.”
A native of Medellin, Colombia, Perea spent his youth career with Atlético Nacional. In 2010, he appeared in 36 games for León de Huánuco, scoring 22 goals for the Peruvian side. The success led to a loan with Chilean football club Everton de Viña del Mar, where the young forward notched six goals in 13 games. Perea then remained in Peru to play for Universidad San Martin de Porres until the club folded earlier this month.
“We are very excited to have found another quality striker to add to our team,” said FC Dallas President and CEO Doug Quinn. “It is a testament to the immediate impact Fernando Clavijo has made on our club. We're looking forward to seeing Luis with the rest of the team for what promises to be an exciting season here in Dallas.”
Perea’s father is former Colombian National Team defender Luis Carlos Perea. The senior Perea earned 78 caps for his country during an eight-year span and finished his professional career in 1998 with Independiente Medellin.
“Fernando Clavijo knew Luis’ family and was able to bring him in,” added Hyndman. “We were looking for a striker to compliment Blas and help us get through all the call-ups we expect to receive this season. We’ve heard a lot of good things about him. He’s a goal scorer and he’s got good size to him. There is always going to be an adjustment to MLS soccer, but we’re just glad to have him on our roster.”
There are, however, some red flags that could derail the season and Coach Schellas Hyndman has his work cut out for him.
Older Player’s Health
Kevin Hartman 37, Daniel Hernandez 35, Jair Benitez 33, Ricardo Villar 32, David Ferreira 32… Those are not spring chickens.
Older players do get hurt more, they break down, they need more rest, and they can’t play as many games. The core of FCD’s team is old (in soccer terms) and several of them are coming off injuries. Hernandez in particular has been playing hurt at playoff time the last two years, needing knee surgery in both cases.
Can these older gentleman hold together for the season and carry FCD deep into the playoffs? Time will tell.
FC Dallas struggled with a very heavy fixture schedule last year and Hyndman admitted at the end of the season the team was short on depth. The schedule will be lighter this year with no CONCACAF Champions League, but the team’s depth hasn’t gotten any better. Several players who logged a lot of minutes last year are gone (Jackson, Marvin Chavez, Eric Avila, Maicon Santos, Daniel Cruz) a few of them without being replaced.
It’s good for the long term situation at FCD that the club has six home grown players… but in the short term it’s bad. Those Home Grown players eat up roster spots that could be filled by players coming out of college or signed from other leagues. Bottom line, FC Dallas needs some of the Home Grown players (other than Ruben Luna that is) to start improving, getting some minutes, and making an impact.
Maybe FCD’s new TD Fernando Clavijo can help with this one.
Brek Shea and Summer Olympics
At this point Brek Shea appears to be a big part of the US U23 team that will be heading, pending qualifying, to the 2012 Olympics in London. Olympic qualifying starts March 22nd for the US, Shea will probably be gone for a camp then the games that could run till Mach 31st.
Then Olympic soccer tournament will run from July 25th to August 11th. Doubtful, of course, that the US will advance to all the way to the final, but we can hope yes? There will be camp before the tournament where the final team is selected and Shea will almost certainly be a part again.
So a quick glance at the MLS calendar says Shea could miss 10, maybe 12 games, and that doesn’t include call ups to the senior team for which Shea has now started 10 games in a row.
With FCD’s depth the way it is, there aren’t a ton of solutions when Shea will be out. Scott Sealy can play some in wide midfield; Andrew Wiedeman is getting a lot of time with reserves this spring; and Carols Rodriguez is a possibility, if not an ideal one.
Bottom line, FCD’s best player last year may miss a third of this season.
George John contentment/happiness
I’m of two minds about George John’s return to FCD. On the one hand he’s a terrific MLS player who is a great asset for the back line. Alongside Ugo Ihemelu, they make one of the best center back combos in MLS.
But on the other hand, I’m not real sure John wants to be here in Dallas. Twice now he’s gotten involved in a potential transfer, the most recent of which involved a loan with a buy option (that wasn’t picked up). John has a Greek passport, which makes him eligible for play in Europe without counting as a foreign player. Coach Hyndman says John has turned down multiple contract offers from FCD.
And just this week John again didn’t want to talk about his contact… “I have no comment on that right now. I’m with the team, John said. “I’m here for the year, just looking forward to earning my spot back on the squad and playing some games.”
It’s not that I blame John for wanting to go to Europe. He would make way more money over there and play at a higher level. MLS and FCD both have a typical salary structure which means there’s only so much a club will want to pay a domestic center back. Of course John wants to go, wouldn’t you?
The problem for FCD is how John will react to being back. John has always been a player who worked his tail off both in training and in games. He’s physical, tough, and doesn’t back down from challenges. If he does not really want to be here will he be the same player?
It’s clear last year the team’s defense went downhill after John returned from his first potential transfer that didn’t happen. Yet what I know about John tells me he will still work hard and be the same guy he’s always been; leading a once again tight FCD defense. It’s not in his nature to mail it in.
As I said at the top, Coach Hyndman may have his work cut out for him this year.
It’s an intriguing move on several fronts. For one, he is a man FCD supporters know all too well and a number of them despised in the past, mainly for coaching the Colorado teams that bounced Dallas out of the playoffs in both 2005 and 2006, but also for the often goonish brand of soccer he frequently chose to play as the man directing the Rapids.
Bringing on the native Uruguayan and member of the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame is definitely a 180 turn from former FCD technical director Barry Gorman, a former college coach at Penn State. Gorman’s biggest strength was the relationships he had with college coaches and also in scouting college players.
However, as Dallas supporters know, he made several questionable trades last summer, notably the ones that sent Eric Avila to Toronto FC and the deal that shipped Eric Alexander to Portland for the largely failed Jeremy Hall, who is now a teammate of Avila’s with the Reds in a nice bit of irony.
Gorman’s inexperience when it came to matters MLS was definitely a big strike against him and in the end, it proved to be a major factor in him being relieved of his duties last December. But MLS experience is definitely one of Clavijo’s strengths as he knows the ins and outs of the circuit quite well from his time as a player and later as an assistant and head coach in the league with the likes of the MetroStars, Revolution and most recently with the Rapids.
He also has extensive connections in Latin America, a talent pipeline in which FCD has made serious inroads into over the last few years. Having someone from that part of the world looking at players, interacting with them, their agents and other influential parties can only help this club’s chances of bringing in more players from Central and South America in the near future when it comes to maximizing their ability to find quality personnel in those areas.
So Dallas has its new TD and on all fronts, it looks to be a solid hire. However, the proof will likely come later this year when FCD has to make a move or two within the league as to what exactly Clavijo brings to the table. Another determining factor of his success also figures to be how the FCD Academy not only continues to produce high-caliber players, but more importantly how those players fare once they leave the program.
Still, the club added someone with a solid soccer background, a resume that includes much time spent in MLS, which is a big asset as the club’s new TD. Welcome to Frisco, Fernando, we look forward to watching you work in your new gig.
“I want to thank Clark and Dan Hunt, Doug Quinn and Coach Schellas Hyndman for the opportunity to be a part of FC Dallas,” said Clavijo. “I’m very excited to be part of the technical staff and am eager to use my experience in helping FC Dallas be the best professional soccer team and the best player development academy in North America. Coach Hyndman already took us to the MLS Cup, now we need to get there again and win it.”
A native of Maldonado, Uruguay, Clavijo played three seasons in the American Soccer League, two in the North American Soccer League and 10 in Major League Soccer before transitioning to a spot on the sidelines. Inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005, Clavijo earned 61 caps for the U.S. National Team.
“After spending much time evaluating candidates for our technical director position, I am very happy we have Fernando joining our staff,” said Hyndman. “He brings experience as a coach and as an excellent recruiter in identifying talent. I truly believe he will make a positive difference in the direction of FC Dallas.”
When his playing career ended, Clavijo stepped to the sidelines and was head coach of the Colorado Rapids from 2005 to 2008. He also served as an assistant with the MetroStars in 1998 and head coach of the New England Revolution from 2000 to 2002. At the international level, Clavijo was an assistant coach with the Nigerian national team in 1998 and head coach of the Haitian national team from 2003 to 2005.
Most recently, Clavijo has served as executive director of soccer for Traffic Sports USA in Florida.
“We are very excited to bring a person of Fernando’s caliber to FC Dallas,” said FC Dallas President and CEO Doug Quinn. “It was difficult to find an individual who had the specific skills and experience that fit our unique needs for the pro team, our youth development program and the Academy; Fernando is the complete package. As a player, Fernando excelled on the field representing our national team and earning an induction into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame. As a coach, both internationally and in MLS, Fernando cultivated the skill and knowledge needed to help our professional team, academy and youth programs rise to the next level.”
Buzz's knee-jerk reaction: While I don't love Clavijo's record as a coach, I do like his connections and time he's spent in scouting/talent evaluating as well as his level of MLS experience. The key to this hire will be his interaction with coach Hyndman. To often Barry Gorman's transactions seemed to be contrary to Hyndman's desires or plan. If Clavijo and Hyndman are on the same page this could work.
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