FRISCO, Texas — Former FC Dallas technical director and U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame member Fernando Clavijo died Saturday at the age of 63.
“It is with deep sadness that we share the news of Fernando Clavijo’s passing on Feb. 8, after a courageous battle with cancer,” Clavijo’s family said in a statement. “The support and encouragement he received from friends and the entire soccer community throughout his fight will always be appreciated.”
Clavijo was joined FC Dallas in March of 2012 as technical director and brought the team to new heights, including a 2016 U.S. Lamar Hunt Open Cup title and the 2016 Supporters Shield title. He and former coach Oscar Pareja formed a partnership that was arguably one of the best in Major League Soccer, hitting the 60-point threshold twice during their tenure together. Clavijo took a leave of absence on Sept. 13, 2018 to focus on his health after battling multiple myeloma.
Clavijo was head coach of Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution and Colorado Rapids prior to his days at FC Dallas. In 1999, he was an assistant coach for the New Jersey/New York MetroStars.
“I would say in a lot of ways Fernando was the heart and soul of FC Dallas for the last half-dozen years,” FC Dallas Chairman Clark Hunt said. “Not only did he do a great job in his role as technical director, but he was somebody who everybody in the organization had a great relationship with. He was truly a special person, somebody who was always encouraging, somebody who was always encouraging, somebody who was always sharing himself personally with everyone he had a relationship. I know he was important to Oscar while Oscar was here, and to Luchi as well in Luchi’s role in the academy.”
Along with his coaching and executive days, Clavijo had 61 caps for the United States Men’s National Team, including play in the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
FC Dallas President Dan Hunt shared a story about Clavijo with reporters during halftime of the team’s friendly Saturday versus Bayern Munich’s U23s.
“I called Fernando the mayor,” Hunt recalled. “He was the mayor everywhere we went. At DFW [airport] as we were leaving to Uruguay to go try and sign Diego Forlan, a woman who worked for American Airlines saw us and grabbed us out of the Starbucks line and said, ‘Oh no. You’re not paying for your coffee. I’m going to put you in the Admiral’s Club.’ And she took us there.
“When we landed in Uruguay, we were in Montevideo, we got out, we go through customs and a couple baggage handlers ran up and started fighting over his bags. He had luggage that had two handles on it and they were both pulling. Toni and I were looking around going, ‘What are we, chopped liver here?!’”
Players were told the news prior to the team’s match.
For some, such as Reggie Cannon, Clavijo gave them their first professional opportunities. Clavijo signed Cannon to a homegrown contract in December of 2016.
“Obviously, it was a very emotional time before the game when they told us the news,” Cannon said. “Some of the new guys didn’t know Fernando that well, but it was more about the family aspect. We lost someone near and dear to the FC Dallas family. He contributed so much to the game and so much to the club that you can’t even put into words. Especially for me, personally, he’s done so much, giving me a chance to play on an MLS club at 19-years-old. He believed in me and it’s hard to swallow, but I know he’s in a better place watching over us now.”