Major League Soccer
Zambrano is MetroStars head coach, Revolution hands reins to Clavijo.(Monday, November 29, 1999) -- Who says you need to win to get a job as a Major League Soccer head coach?
Octavio Zambrano, who was fired in midseason by a slumping Los Angeles Galaxy, only to see the team turn around and advance to MLS Cup '99, and Fernando Clavijo, who in 1999 was an assistant coach of the worst team in league history, the MetroStars, were named to fill openings elsewhere today.
Zambrano is now head coach of the MetroStars and Clavijo, who resigned recently as interim head coach of that New Jersey side, was appointed to run the New England Revolution.
Zambrano, 41, compiled a league record of 39-18 (.684) record between 1997 and 1999 in Los Angeles, does hold the highest winning percentage for an MLS coach despite presiding over the fading Galaxy, which was 11-10 when he was let go.
Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Zambrano encouraged attack-minded soccer. His 1998 Los Angeles team shattered the MLS record for goals scored with 85, while his defense allowed only 44. The 1998 Galaxy finished with the best record (24-8) and the most points (68) of any team in league history. Zambrano became the sixth MetroStars head coach in MLS, which has four seasons in the books.
"The search to find a new head coach was exhaustive, but this organization believes that we've found the very best candidate for the job," MetroStars president and general manager Charllie Stillitano said. "In Octavio we have a coach who has proven he can win in this league and play attractive soccer, and a man who has an outstanding track record of uncovering young talent."
Zambrano began his playing career at the age of 17, playing for the Ecuadorian national junior team. At 18, he launched his professional career in Ecuador's First Division with Union Deportiva Valdez, before moving to the United States on a soccer scholarship from Southern California's Chapman University, where he was voted the team's rookie of the year in 1980.
Following his collegiate career, Zambrano played two seasons with the Los Angeles Lazers of the Major Indoor Soccer League. He then went on to serve as player\coach for the Galactica Soccer Club in the Greater Los Angeles League before being named assistant coach and director of player development for the California Emperors of the Western Soccer League in 1990. In 1992 Zambrano performed dual roles, acting as assistant coach for the Los Angeles Salsa (American Professional Soccer League) and serving as head coach of the United Systems of Independent Soccer League Los Angeles Cobras, where he was later selected Western Division "Coach of the Year" in 1994.
"This is certainly an exceptional opportunity, and I embrace the challenges that lie ahead," Zambrano said. "Outside the U.S. national team job, I consider this the premier coaching opportunity in the United States."
Zambrano's will start work January 1.
Clavijo, a member of the U.S. 1994 World Cup team and is considered a talented coaching mind.
"After an extensive search, Fernando proved to be the most talented and qualified person to lead the Revolution," Revolution managing director Sunil Gulati said. "He possesses an exceptional mind for the game, an extensive knowledge of and a proven ability to work well with both American and International players, and a tireless work ethic. We are delighted to welcome him to New England."
Clavijo, 43, has previously served as the assistant coach of the Major League Soccer developmental U.S. Pro-40 Select team, comprised of the young, talented players from the league's 12 clubs. He was a MetroStars assistant to Bora Milutinovic in 1999 for a team that finished 7-25 with 15 points, the worst season any MLS club has ever had.
He was the head coach of the Florida Thundercats of the indoor National Professional Soccer League from 1998-1999 and led the Seattle Seadogs to the Continental Indoor Soccer League indoor championship in 1997. "Today marks a bold new direction for the Revolution as we begin the process of constructing a championship-caliber team that will reward our fans with an exciting and successful brand of soccer," Revs chief operating officer Brian O'Donovan said.
As a player, Clavijo made 61 appearances for the U.S. between 1990-1994, starting in three games of four games the U.S. played in World Cup USA '94. He was a standout defender for both the San Jose Earthquakes of the North American Soccer League and New York United of the American Soccer League.
"I am thrilled to be the Revolution's Head Coach," Clavijo said. "The incredible fans of New England, the strength of the team's ownership and organization, and the potential of the players, make the Revolution the perfect place to coach. This team will feature a fast-paced attacking style, emphasizing a combination of individual flair and creativity and team organization. We have a lot to do to make our goals a reality. The process begins immediately."
Born on January 23, 1956 in Maldonado, Uruguay, Clavijo speaks fluent Spanish and has a residence in Davie, Florida. He and his wife Martha have two sons: Jonathan, 16, and Nicolas, 10.
In other news, the Colorado Rapids announced that starting goalkeeper Ian Feuer would not be offered a contract for 2000, leaving only Russell Payne currently signed to play goal.
In Chicago, Polish veterans Roman Kosecki and Jerzy Podbrozny, instrumental in the Chicago Fire winning MLS Cup '98 and U.S Open Cup in the club's first year, were let go.
"Both Roman and Jerzy were a big part of the Fire's success the past two seasons," said Fire coach Bob Bradley. "We appreciate the efforts they put out on and off the field, and we wish them luck in the future."
Both players slumped in 1999.