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Scoring, not staff changes, concern Clavijo
by Ridge Mahoney, June 24th, 2008 7AM

TAGS:  mls


Rapids head coach Fernando Clavijo isn't concerned with the departure from his staff of assistant coach John Murphy, who had worked with him together not only in Colorado but during Clavijo's prior tenure with the New England Revolution. He is worried, however, about his team squandering scoring chances.

In the past two games, the Rapids have scored just one goal while losing to Toronto (3-1) and tying Houston (0-0) on the road, which is hardly a cause for alarm. Isn't it?

"We are a young team," says Clavjio, "and we are not putting away our chances, it's as simple as that. Against Toronto, we had two one-on-ones with the goalkeeper early in the game and didn't score, and in the second half, we have a breakaway and the same thing happens. Against Houston, we created five or six really good chances and we did not put any of them away.

"If we have a [Brian] Ching, we score at least one of those goals, maybe two. I thought we played well, very well, against Houston, and against Toronto, too, at least for part of the game, but we have only one point to show for it."

Omar Cummings, Tom McManus and Christian Gomez have each scored three goals to lead the Rapids (5-7-1, fifth in the Western Conference). With 19 goals, Colorado is tied for sixth overall with Chivas USA amongst the 14 MLS teams.

"Omar is doing well, but he is a young player [23]," says Clavijo, "and teams are aggressively tackling Christian, shall we say, every time he gets the ball."

Murphy left last week at the behest of Clavijo, who in preseason had apparently reached an agreement to hire former U.S. goalkeeper Juergen Sommer, only for Sommer to back out, apparently because of a very heavy workload at a moderate salary. Murphy's role had been altered with the arrival of assistant coach Gary Smith in preseason and according to Clavijo, wasn't willing to work solely with the goalkeepers.

Murphy had missed games and training sessions to finish up coaching classes overseas. He will stay on as the club's director of player development.

"He was missing 10 days here, five days there," says Clavijo. "I knew what his schedule was going to be but he definitely did a couple of things I did not like. It was my decision. He obviously has his mind on doing other things and that's fine, but I need people who can work with me on what we are trying to accomplish here."

Smith, who worked in England with Wimbledon, Wycombe and Watford and holds a UEFA 'A' coaching badge, will continue as assistant coach. Former Rapids and San Jose Clash keeper David Kramer will soon join the staff to work with the goalies.

"I was given a very good assistant in Gary Smith, and he has been a great asset to my team and my staff, absolutely," says Clavijo of Smith, who was hired by managing director Jeff Plush. "He has brought a lot of knowledge and a good background.

"I think we are moving in the right direction. We have been missing players because of suspensions and callups and injuries. I think we can be a very, very good team, but we are a prototype, not the finished product."

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