There was a spring in the step of the Colorado Rapids' players at training Wednesday following the "mutually amicable agreement" that lead to the departure of coach Fernando Clavijo, reports Brian Forbes. With interim coach Gary Smith in charge, the players "were physical, competitive and vocal."
"I've been in the situation three or four times, and the toughest training sessions
come when a coach [leaves the team]," forward Herculez Gomez said. "It's a clean slate. So now, if you're a developmental player, you got a pep in your step because you know you can prove yourself."
Clavijo, with a regular season record of 40-49-25, and 1-3-2 postseason, said that "a lot of things happened through the year that I was not happy with in many ways, but I think because of
family now I've decided it's the right time to put all my energy into my family and recharge my batteries and myself, too."
Smith said such a departure was "always disappointing,
especially with a character like Fernando. He's a very good man; very honest man. Pretty much all of the group are disappointed." But there was a hint of relief among the players that the year-long
speculation about Clavijo's position was over. "It's the nature of the business," said defender Mike Petke, adding that it was good to have the matter settled so the team could concentrate on soccer.
"What's gone on between the gaffer Fernando and the front office is their business," said midfielder Terry Cooke. "Obviously, as players, we just got to get on now and make sure we get a playoff