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U.S. soccer world mourns Hall of Fame defender Clavijo

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USMNT World Cup defender and former MLS coach Fernando Clavijo passed away Friday at the age of 63, his family announced through U.S. Soccer on Saturday.

Clavijo battled multiple myeloma for a half-decade following a decorated playing and coaching career which saw him inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005.

“It is with deep sadness that we share the news of Fernando Clavijo’s passing on February 8 after a courageous battle with cancer,” his family said in a release. “The support and encouragement he received from friends and the entire soccer community throughout his fight will always be appreciated. At this time the Clavjio family requests privacy as we mourn the loss of a great man and no additional statements will be made. Further details on remembrances and a celebration of his life will be shared in the near future.”

The Uruguay-born defender was capped 61 times by the USMNT, and played in the ASL, NASL, and MISL (indoor). He also played eight times for the U.S. futsal team.

Clavijo started two of the three USMNT matches in the 1994 World Cup: The 2-1 defeat of Colombia and 1-0 loss to Romania.

He went on to coach both club and international soccer, assisting Nigeria before running the Haitian national team from 2003-05. He was the head coach of the New England Revolution and Colorado Rapids before leading then-USL side Miami FC in 2009.

He was hired as FC Dallas’ technical director in 2012.

 

U.S. U-20s awaken in 2nd half vs. Haiti, keep WCQ hopes alive

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With many thanks to the hat trick scored by Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake, on loan from Liverpool), the U.S. U-20 national team’s hopes of qualifying for the 2017 U-20 World Cup remain intact.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

After dropping all three points in their opening group-stage game against Panama on Saturday, Tab Ramos’ young Yanks faced elimination from CONCACAF’s U-20 Championship in Costa Rica with a defeat to Haiti on Tuesday. After 15 minutes, the Americans found themselves a goal down, the prospect of winning zero points from their first two games a terrifying possibility.

Then, Lennon struck from the penalty spot. A draw wouldn’t be enough, realistically, though, as they’d still trail Haiti by three points ahead of the final group game, against Saint Kitts and Nevis, with the top two sides from each team advancing to the classification stage.

The score remained 1-1 until halftime, after which point the Yanks roared to life with three goals in a seven-minute span. Luca de la Torre (Fulham) scored the first of the bunch, an empty-net finish after a failed punch by the goalkeeper. Lennon quickly followed suit with two more to make it 4-1.

With three points from two games and a goal differential that now sits at +2, the Yanks are second in Group B, just ahead of Haiti on goal differential (+1). Panama sit atop the group with six points and a +5 goal differential. A U.S. victory over Saint Kitts and Nevis, to go with a Haitian upset of Panama, would see the Americans finish top of the group go into Group E in the classification stage, which would see them accompanied by a pair of second-place sides. The first-place side in each classification group qualifies for May’s tournament in South Korea.

Haiti edges Trinidad and Tobago to reach Gold Cup playoff

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Haiti moved one step closer to the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup after pulling off an important victory against Trinidad and Tobago.

Les Grenadiers knocked off the Soca Warriors, 4-3, in extra time on Sunday to reach the playoff final for qualification into this year’s Gold Cup.

The visitors got off to a hot start in the first minute when Shahdon Winchester tallied for the first of two goals on the day. New York Red Bulls attacker Derrick Etienne Jr. and Kervens Belfort got the score level at 2-2 for Haiti.

The sides went into extra time at the same score before Belfort added his second of the match after heading home his chance. Radanfah Abu Bakr responded for Trinidad to put the game back on level terms but Andrew Jean-Baptiste had the final say for the Haitians.

Haiti will face the fifth-place winner from Central America in a two-legged playoff in order to determine which side will round out the 2017 Gold Cup field.

Red Bulls teenager chooses Haiti over U.S., will be cap-tied this week

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New York Red Bulls prospect Derrick Etienne has chosen Haiti over the United States and will make his debut in this week’s Caribbean Cup qualifiers against French Guiana and Saint Kitts & Nevis.

Etienne, 19, was hoping to get a look from the U.S. youth set-up, but none has come his way. He spent most of this season for the New York Red Bulls 2, scoring three goals and two assists in 22 appearances.

[ MORE: Rooney admits Allardyce baffled him ]

Haiti has 11 players who ply their trade in American club soccer, with Soni Mustivar of Sporting KC and Zachary Herivaux of New England the only MLS members.

From Goal.com:

“I just thought this was the right time to make that jump and start my international career,” Etienne Jr. told Goal USA. “Considering the timing, and how I felt, and how Haiti is going as a national team, I felt it was the right time to make this decision.”

Etienne made his MLS debut in a 4-minute cameo for the Red Bulls on Sept. 11, and played 87 minutes between two CONCACAF Champions League matches in August.

Enner Valencia fires Ecuador to win over Haiti, Copa America QF date with USA

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The U.S. national team will face Ecuador in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Copa America Centenario after La Tricolor knocked off Haiti, 4-0, Sunday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, to finish second in Group B.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | Copa America 2016 ]

West Ham United striker Enner Valencia scored one and assisted one in the first half, slotting home to complete a lethal counter-attack in the 11th minute, then laying the ball off to a streaking Jaime Ayovi for an empty-net finish nine minutes later.

[ EURO: Germany top Ukraine | Modric downs Turkey | Poland 1-0 N. Ireland ]

Ecuador made it 3-0 just before the hour mark, when Valencia linked up with Swansea City midfielder Jefferson Montero, who picked out Christian Noboa all alone at the far post. Noboa chested the ball down with great control and placed his shot under the desperate arms of Johny Placide.

Valencia bagged his second assist of the night when he set up Antonio Valencia for Ecuador’s fourth goal of the game, once again opting to unselfishly play the ball sideways to a wide open teammate rather than attempt a shot on goal himself.

Ecuador will face the USMNT in the quarterfinals Thursday night in Seattle, Wash., with kickoff scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET. The two sides faced off in a pre-Copa friendly last month, won by the Yanks on Darlington Nagbe’s first international goal. Les Grenadiers will finish fourth in Group B, exiting the tournament without winning a single point and scoring just one goal in the process.