COMMERCE CITY COLO. (Wednesday August 20 2008) – The Colorado Rapids and head coach Fernando Clavijo have reached a mutually amicable agreement that will see Clavijo leave the club due to personal reasons the team announced today.
In addition the Rapids announced that assistant coach Gary Smith would assume the club’s head coaching position for the remainder of the 2008 season on an interim basis.
(To watch exclusive Rapids All Access video interviews from Gary Smith and the Players click here).
Last week Clavijo made a sudden and unexpected trip to his native Uruguay to attend to a family medical emergency. Needing time to be with his family and with respect to his responsibilities with the Rapids both parties have agreed to part at this time to allow Clavijo the time and energy he needs to focus towards his family.
In Clavijo’s absence Smith filled in running the team’s training sessions and helped the Rapids to a 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Wizards last Saturday. The win was Colorado’s first since July 4.
"We appreciate all that Fernando has done for this team over the last four years and wish him and his family the best said Rapids’ managing director Jeff Plush. "He has worked tirelessly on behalf of our organization and brought us some of our greatest successes. We are poised to achieve great things and when we do we will look back fondly and appreciatively of Fernando's tenure with our club."
The Rapids currently stand fourth in the Western Conference with a 7-10-3 record.
Fernando Clavijo who was named the team’s head coach prior to the 2005 season leaves the Rapids with a 40-49-25 regular season record and 1-3-2 postseason mark. A 15-year veteran player of the U.S. Soccer National Team the American Soccer League the North American Soccer League and Major Indoor Soccer League Clavijo was elected to the Hall of Fame on June 8 2005 and was inducted on August 29 of the same year.
Interim head coach Gary Smith is currently in his first season with the Rapids. Smith carries ten years of experience as a professional player and full-time coach in the English FA. A UEFA "A" badge holder Smith began his coaching career with Wimbledon F.C. as a senior level coach. In 2004 he became the assistant first team coach for the Wycombe Wanderers. Following the resignation of Wycombe head coach Tony Adams Smith filled the role as interim head coach and led the club to a 4-0 record under his leadership. Smith moved to the position of reserve team coach for Watford F.C. in 2005. During his first season with the club the first team was promoted to the Premiership. Throughout 2007 Smith served as a scout for the Rapids’ partner club Arsenal F.C. in Spain. As a professional player he spent four years with Fulham two years with Barnet F.C. and one year with Colchester United.