I have to admit that few of us in the leering press saw this one coming, the naming of ex-Rapids head coach Fernando Clavijo as the second technical director in FC Dallas history Wednesday morning.
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.