Fernando Clavijo, the newest member of FC Dallas, is a fascinating figure. You get the feeling in talking to him that he's very, very excited to be a part of building FCD into a youth and professional powerhouse in the country and that he is really one of the final pieces to the puzzle. While his coaching moves in the past have been somewhat suspect, I think his eye for talent is definitely right up there with the best in this country and he is really a good hire.
As one FCD exec told me "I can pick up the phone and get straight to the president of 5 or so teams down in South America, with Fernando it's more like 50 clubs and that can get you anyone you want to talk to." I expect him to be a guy that becomes a very recognizable figure around FC Dallas Stadium and I was able to catch up with him at the media event yesterday. Enjoy...
Overall feelings on coming to Dallas and back in MLS
I’m extremely excited to get back in MLS and to get back in a different position but with an incredible group of people in Dallas. I said a long long time ago that the best two teams right now in MLS, the way they play and the organization, are Dallas and Real Salt Lake. They play a good brand of soccer, quality of individuals on the field, the coach is a great man and as I say if there is a position I’d really like to be in, it’s that one.
So when this happened, and it happened very quick in five days, I never thought about it. I never thought about it even as I am leaving a very good company, Traffic Sports, I said this is my shot. This is the opportunity I was looking for. Hopefully right now with my experience, I can add what is needed to go all the way up and win the MLS Cup. That’s what I’m here for, to support a great bunch of guys on the field and an incredible coaching staff. I’m really looking forward to.
FC Dallas had a great guy in Oscar Pareja that left and they’ve placed an emphasis on South American scouting under Schellas Hyndman how do you feel like your experience will help fit in with FC Dallas?
I think even being here for 35 years, I represent the latino community in a big way. Coming from Uruguay, I love the game and I love to be in a position here, the way Dallas play so I think every time you come to a new city and with a new style of the game, things happen.
Right now I’m just going to be another part to the puzzle that coach Schellas is trying to improve and I hope with all the positive things we have going through the season, at the end of the year we can say whatever I did was enough to help these guys get better.
Do you feel like the FC Dallas roster is a piece or two away from being an MLS Cup contender?
I think, I was just talking to Schellas and he mentioned what he was missing and I happened to agree with him and some of those ideas. I’m going to help to put them together right now and that’s my expertise, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 34 years and he needed help. He was a little bit alone so right now hopefully my experience can help to put a winning team and a championship team on the field.
Obviously a big part of this team is the development academy, arguably the best in MLS, how will you help that?
That’s what I also feel extremely good about and that’s what most of my job was with Traffic Sports, development of American players. You live in a great state with a lot of talent, now we need to identify that we need to make sure that we keep them in FC Dallas and we have to make sure that the transition is a little bit quicker from the academy into the pros, which is still not there just yet. But again, anything that I can do to help, to make this development even quicker for college players and for the pro team we need to do it.
You said this came together quickly, a week ago this wasn’t on the radar?
No, no I never applied, with Traffic Sports we invested in three players that we’re part of the U23 national team, I was here for USA-Mexico and conversation after conversation happened. I always loved Dallas, I always had great experiences in Dallas, great people, great organization.
Even though there were some crazy games back with the Rapids?
Oh, that’s part of the game! I think that’s the part of excitement that the game is all about and the passion of the game. I always had a great respect for the team and for the fans, they always treated me great and with great respect. I’m extremely happy to be able to come here.
Finally, talk about your relationship with Schellas Hyndman
From the first day he took over as a coach, we hit it together. We have a good relationship, I think we have a mutual respect. He’s been around for a long time like myself and I think we have the same values. Loyalty, ideas how to play the game and how the game is progressing in the United States. I think that I respect him as not only a coach but as a human being.