Ex-U.S. Defender Clavijo: Where Is the Next Donovan?

Former U.S. national team defender and ex-Colorado Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo gave an interesting interview to Soccer America last week.

Among other things, he told SA editor Mike Woitalla that he thought the U.S. would be farther along in its development as a soccer nation by now, and that the American system needs revamping if it is going to produce more players of Landon Donovan‘s caliber.

Here’s an excerpt from the 1994 World Cup veteran’s comments:

“I expected [the U.S. program] to be much farther along. In 1994, we achieved what we did in 2010 without a professional outdoor league. Bora Milutinovic did an outstanding job with the players he had. … I was playing indoor soccer!

I’m not criticizing Bob Bradley whatsoever. But back then, we imagined that by 2010 we would be winning, not just competing. We shouldn’t be waiting until the 91st minute to beat Algeria.

We only have one Landon Donovan in a country of 300 million people. That’s not enough. We have a lot of role players, who are incredibly athletic, but missing a little bit here, a little bit there. There’s maybe one other with the special qualities, Clint Dempsey.

I think Bob Bradley did a very good job, but we need look really deep at what we’re not doing properly because we have not advanced that much more.”

Interesting points, but they might be neglecting the fact that international soccer as a whole has gotten more competitive since 1994, and that therefore ‘waiting until the 91st minute to beat Algeria’ is something the big teams—not just the U.S.—sometimes have to do in the current era.

In any case, Clavijo also talks about being proud of Colorado, the team he coached two seasons ago, for making it to MLS Cup 2010.

He brought in key current Rapids such as Conor Casey, Omar Cummings, and Kosuke Kimura.

Click here to read the entire interview.