Perseverance paid off for FC Dallas and Technical Director Fernando Clavijo.
On Saturday, the club announced the acquisition of defensive midfielder Carlos Gruezo from Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart, becoming the third Designated Player on the Dallas roster.
“We were after him early on,” he said. “We’ve had him on the radar for quite some time.”
Initially, Clavijo approached Gruezo's club about his availability. The German team, according to Clavijo, had no interest in parting ways with the promising 20 year old. There were options to loan him to second-division clubs in Germany, but Stuttgart wanted to retain the midfielder’s rights. But Clavijo wouldn’t let his top target slip away that easily.
“When the whole thing went around and we didn’t have a chance to get him, we pretty much dropped it,” he said. “We kept looking at different options and at the end of the day, I said ‘You know what, I have to find a way.’ I always like to double check things.”
|Name||Pos.||National Team||Club Team||Age||App.||Mins|
|Fabrice Olinga||F||Cameroon||Malaga (ESP)||18 years, 31 days||0||0|
|Luke Shaw||D||England||Manchester United (ENG)||18 years, 325 days||1||90|
|Julian Green||M/F||U.S.A.||Bayern Munich (GER)||19 years, 6 days||1||15|
|Carlos Gruezo||M||Ecuador||FC Dallas||19 years, 54 games||2||97|
|Divock Origi||F||Belgium||Liverpool (ENG)||19 years, 55 days||6||245|
Eventually, Clavijo was able to get in touch with Gruezo's agent in Ecuador to present his club’s philosophy.
“I mentioned who we are, what we do and he started looking at FC Dallas and how we play young players,” he said. “I think little by little things fell into place.”
Gruezo turned to his national team coach, Gustavo Quinteros, who talked to him about MLS and everything happening in American soccer - including the upcoming Copa America Centenario in which Ecuador will be playing.
“[He] presented a letter to Stuttgart thanking them for everything, thanking the team for everything, but really [conveying] his wishes to come to the United States and play here,” Clavijo said of the final steps of the transfer. “We came to terms that were fair for everyone.”
Clavijo has openly talked in the past that despite having an open DP slot on the roster, they weren’t going to use it on just anyone. With almost 80 games at the highest professional level in Ecuador, two years of experience in Bundesliga and the being the second-youngest player to start a game at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Clavijo felt that Gruezo was the perfect fit for Dallas.
“It’s not easy to find a player that has experience, that has played in high-level leagues and really wants to come,” Clavijo said. “I’m really happy about this one because this is one [position] that has been a little bit of an issue for almost two years. I’m really excited for the opportunity to have him here.”