are they now?
I thought I'd forward you two things we did in Soccer
I covered Clive with his University of Portland teams, as
assistant to Steve Sampson with the U.S. World Cup team
at France '98, and as head coach of the U.S. U-23 team
that finished fourth at the Sydney Olympics three years
Clive was the classiest person I've met in 20-something
years covering soccer in America. He was beloved over
here, and his passing (on Aug. 26) was a sad day for
American soccer and for the community in Portland.
Here is the text of our online obituary and an Q&A we
ran in the magazine last January. We have a longer obit
in the latest copy of the magazine, but I'm in Los
Angeles and our main office is in Berkeley, so I haven't
seen it yet.
Scott French Senior Editor Soccer America
following article appears in full at: - www.socceramerica.com
Clive Charles, the London-born defender who came to
America during the NASL's golden years and remained in
the United States as perhaps its most beloved coach,
succumbed following a three-year battle with prostate
Charles, who built the University of Portland's men's and
women's programs into national powers while working with
numerous U.S. national teams, died Tuesday at the his
northwest Portland home. He was 51.
His family will hold private services, and a public
gathering is planned for Sept. 8 on the UP campus.
Charles was considered one of the finest people in
American soccer, loved by his players, revered by his
peers, and respected for his gentle demeanor and intense
passion for the sport. He brought national recognition to
the University of Portland, a small (2,800 enrollment)
Catholic university in Oregon's largest city, and
developed dozens of athletes who played professionally
and for varied national teams.
A coach who prized development over victory -- yet was
one of college soccer's winningest coaches -- Charles'
pupils included Tiffeny Milbrett and Shannon MacMillan,
who were selected Tuesday for the U.S. roster for the
Sept. 20-Oct. 12 Women's World Cup, and men's
national-teamers Kasey Keller, goalkeeper with English
Premier League club Tottenham, and Steve Cherundolo, who
plays with Hannover in the German Bundesliga.
Charles posted a 439-144-44 combined record in 17 seasons
as coach of Portland's men's team and 14 seasons with its
women's team, and guided the women last fall to the NCAA
championship -- the university's only NCAA title in any
sport -- the Pilots' first triumph in seven final four
The 2-1 overtime victory in the final over West Coast
Conference rival Santa Clara was the final match of
Portland's men's team reached the final four twice under
Charles, and in all the Pilot men and women won 13
conference titles and reached the NCAA tournament 20
Charles also spent eight years as a U.S. Soccer staff
coach, serving as Steve Sampson's assistant with the
men's national team at the 1998 World Cup and guiding the
U.S. under-23 men's team to a stunning fourth-place
finish at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. He also coached
the U.S. under-20 women's team from 1993 to 1996.
Charles, who played professionally for 17 years, learned
he had cancer just before departing for the Sydney Games.
A private man, Charles did not disclose his illness until
spring 2002. He underwent hormonal therapy, radiation
treatments and chemotherapy to battle the cancer, and he
was strong enough to coach both Portland teams last fall.
The youngest of nine children, Charles learned soccer on
the streets of east London. played for West Ham
United and Cardiff City in his native England, with a
short stint in 1971-72 with the NASL's Montreal Olympique
mixed in, before signing with the Portland Timbers before
the 1978 season. He was one of the league's finest
defenders in his four years with the Timbers -- a
three-time All-NASL player whom Pele selected to his
all-time NASL team -- and retired following a short stint
in the Major Indoor Soccer League.
He remained in Portland following his time with the
Timbers, creating FC Portland youth soccer club -- which
Milbrett and MLS veteran Chris Brown -- and coaching the
boys team at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Ore. He
also served as director of player development for the
Oregon Youth Soccer Association.
Charles received a lifetime achievement award from the
WUSA last year, and he was inducted into the Oregon
Sports Hall of Fame in mid-August. His No. 3 jersey is to
be retired on Friday by the Portland Timbers, now a club
in the A-League.
Longtime Charles assistants Bill Irwin, with the men, and
Garrett Smith, with the women, will be in charge of the
UP teams. Both will retain their titles as
"assistant" coaches. The university has not
determined whether the programs will continue to have one
head coach or a different coach for each team.
In addition to Milbrett, MacMillan, Keller, Brown and
Cherundolo, other professional players who competed at
Portland under Charles include men's pros Yari Allnutt,
Scott Benedetti, Conor Casey, Kelly Gray, Nate Jacqua,
Ian McLean, Darren Sawatzky, Curtis Spiteri, Davide Xausa
and Wade Webber; and current or former WUSA players Betsy
Barr, Justi Baumgardt, Erin Fahey, Michelle French, Tara
Koleski, Wynne McIntosh, Erin Misaki, Brooke O'Hanley and
Charles is survived by his wife, Clarena; son, Michael;
daughter, Sarah, a defender at Portland in the mid-1990s;
four brothers and two sisters.
The following article appears in full at: -www.socceramerica.com
Clive Charles: 'I
Owe Everything to this Game'
following article appeared in the Jan. 20, 2003 issue of
Soccer America. Clive Charles died on Aug. 26, 2003
Clive Charles, an Englishman who came to America to
play in the NASL and stayed when his playing career
finished, has won nearly 450 games as coach of Portland's
men's (since 1986) and women's (since 1989) teams,
guiding them to a combined nine final four appearances
and capturing the school's first NCAA title in any sport
with a victory in last month's women's final over West
Coast Conference rival Santa Clara.
Charles, 51, has battled prostate cancer since he was
diagnosed in August 2000, as he prepared the U.S. U-23
team for the Sydney Olympics. He was on hormonal therapy
until a year ago, when things took a turn for the worse.
Radiation treatments sapped his strength, but a switch
last spring to chemotherapy awarded a new lease on life,
and he was back on the field by August.
Charles sat down with Soccer America during the
College Cup in Austin, Texas, to talk about cancer,
coaching and the things that matter.
SOCCER AMERICA: What has this season been like for
CLIVE CHARLES: I've enjoyed it. Emotionally, it's
been no different, I suppose, than any other year aside
from the fact that I've been tired. The treatments have
been rough. Other than that, it's been fine.
SA: A lot of us suspected you'd step into a
director-of-soccer role and not have as much involvement
with the teams. It sounds like you've been out there
pretty much every day.
CC: I coach two teams. I'm out there for training.
I travel. Last spring, I didn't think I'd be able to, but
I've been able to do pretty much what I normally do.
SA: Is that because the treatments have gone well?
CC: I think so. Some days I feel better than
others. It's knowing what to do, learning how to live
with that, knowing when to take your breaks. And I've got
a good staff, and they've done a good job of making me
stay away sometimes when I should.
SA: You first learned you had prostate cancer while
preparing for the 2000 Olympics. Did you at any point
think, 'Maybe I shouldn't go through with this'?
CC: Yeah. I talked with [U.S. national team
general manager] Tom King and [U.S. Soccer Secretary
General] Dan Flynn. I told them I'd just been diagnosed
with cancer, and we kind of sat on it for a week or so,
and they said, you know, how do you feel, and I felt OK.
My only concern at that point was I didn't want to go to
the Olympics with people thinking I had cancer because
whatever press we were going to get, I wanted it to be
about soccer. I didn't want my illness to get in the way
And I'm a private person anyway. I wanted to keep it to
myself. I think it was Aug. 11  that I knew exactly
what I had.
SA: They told you ...
CC: I had advanced prostate cancer. Going home
that day and sitting with my family [wife Clarena, son,
Michael and daughter Sarah], we were all numb. Australia
helped me. It gave me another focus.
Probably the worst time was coming back [from the
Olympics], just sitting there in the doctor's office
after I'd had my CT scan. The results came in, and it had
gone from the soft tissue and was in the bones.
SA: You were on hormonal therapy at this time?
CC: Yeah. And [the cancer] stopped growing in the
bones, so it was somewhat working. And it continued to
work for a year. And then it came back in the bones in
SA: That's when they put you on radiation?
CC: And I was in a lot of pain then. I was
struggling. I couldn't get out of bed. And then they put
me on chemo, and within a week, I was feeling better. I
was puking every day, but literally within a week I felt
super. Touch wood, the last CT scan I had, it seems to be
shrinking in the bones.
SA: What prognosis do they give you?
CC: They have no cure for what I have.
'Clive takes you almost as his son or daughter'
''When you go to Portland,'' says Kansas City Wizards
forward Chris Brown (1995-98), ''Clive is pretty much a
father figure to the girls and the boys. He takes you
almost as his son or daughter.''
''He cares about all of us as people,'' says San Diego
Spirit forward Wynne McIntosh (1994-97). ''He cares about
what's going on in your life, about how your mom's doing,
about how your dog is doing.''
''[Charles provides] everything you'd want from a family,
to feel respected and understood and trusted,'' adds U.S.
women's national team star Tiffeny Milbrett (1990-92,
94). ''There's a real, real close bond, very tight-knit,
very special. If you didn't go to Portland, you'd never
Charles doesn't separate his men's and women's teams.
They hang out together - ''every night, every day,''
Brown says - and, reports Chicago Fire midfielder Kelly
Gray (1999-2001), ''there's always a few couples from the
Paradis Ariazand joined the women's team during Brown's
senior season. Their relationship bloomed that fall, and
they were married a year later. Ariazand played one
season for Charles, then joined Brown in Kansas City with
her coach's blessing.
''She had a long talk with Clive,'' Brown says, ''and he
told her to do what she needed to do. I owe a lot to
SA: How often do you go in for chemotherapy?
CC: Every week. You just sit there with a drip
'til you're done. I sit there a couple hours, and
sometimes I'm sick, and sometimes I'm not. With
radiation, I was sick every single day.
SA: Have there been times you felt things weren't
going right? That it would be difficult to survive this?
CC: I knew I was in trouble [at the 2001 women's]
final four. I started to lose my appetite. I started to
get some back pain and some hip pain that [hormonal
therapy] wasn't getting rid of anymore. Deep down, I knew
I was in a battle.
I knew I was sick. I couldn't eat, I was sleeping a lot,
the pain was intense. They put me on radiation that dealt
with hot spots [in my right shoulder and left hip], but
it wasn't killing the cancer. It was just helping with
And then I started puking. I was spending 20 hours a day
in bed, and I couldn't get out. My wife was trying to get
biscuits in me, and I couldn't eat or drink. I knew I was
So I made myself get up. Some days I'd just get up, walk
around the living room, and go back to bed.
I didn't talk to anybody; I couldn't take any phone
calls. I just was with my family. All the cards and
e-mails, they helped a lot. I got cards from all over the
world, from people I didn't even know I knew. That
helped. And then, in the spring, they changed my
treatment, and within a week or so, it was like a light
at the end of the tunnel. I started to get up, walk
around the garden, walk up and down the street, walk in
I hadn't laughed for so long. And then in June something
happened and I had a big belly laugh. I can't remember
what it was, but I laughed. I knew I was on my way back.
SA: Were there other victories?
CC: I went into school, the first day I'd gone in.
I was a little scared meeting people again. They didn't
know what to say; I didn't know what to say. ... I
started to go in once a week, then twice a week. I
suppose the first day I spent all day at school was the
next big - I actually went in and did a day's work.
And then, you know, preseason training. I didn't know
what I would be able to do. I sat and watched training
the first day. Within a week, I was coaching. And I've
been coaching every day.
SA: Going through all of this, have you learned things
CC: Oh, yeah. A real deep love of family, more
than anything. I thought I loved my family, but my
MacMillan: 'Clive turned my life around'
U.S. national-teamer Shannon MacMillan (1992-95) left an
abusive homelife to join Charles at Portland. ''He
basically turned my life around,'' she says. ''When I
took that Greyhound bus [from San Diego] to Portland, I
got off a weak, timid, unconfident little girl who didn't
know her potential or how to achieve it. Really, through
his teaching, friendship and love, he became the father
figure I'd never had.''
MacMillan treated Charles like a father, going to him
with her troubles, ''always bawling my head off.'' He
kept a box of tissues in his desk, he told her, just for
''He's truly an incredible and special man,'' she says.
''I am where I am as a person and a player because of
Clive. I love him.''
SA: What first spurred you to get into coaching?
CC: I found a long time ago that I had something
to say, and I knew people would listen. I knew I had the
ability to teach. And I didn't know much about much other
than soccer, so soccer was the obvious. When I was
playing, even at 20 and 21, I was coaching in the
[English soccer] schools, in clinics, stuff like that.
I look at myself probably more as a teacher than I do a
coach. I think I have the ability to get information
across to somebody, to make some sense. I enjoy sharing
SA: What is the difference coaching men vs. women?
CC: To me, there isn't any. You just have to
approach it differently.
SA: In what ways would you deal with men that you
wouldn't deal with women?
CC: Good question. ... How does a guy act in front
of women, and how does he act when he's with the guys?
You know? Whether we like it or not, we act differently.
We just do. And that's as close as I can get to it.
SA: Do you have a preference?
SA: When you think back on your years at Portland,
what do you dwell on?
CC: My second year there, we had our tournament,
and I turn around, and all of a sudden there was like a
thousand people there. And the year before, there were
like 40. We went from 8-8-3 the first year to [13-7-1],
but our schedule was crap.
Then the third year, we brought in Kasey [Keller], and -
I don't know how it happened - we were playing Santa
Clara at home, and there were 3,000 people there. All
paid. Looking over a fence that's [3 feet] high. And I
went, ''You know what? We've got something.''
And I come back the next week, and the carpenters are
building this little press box. And then we're talking
about needing to build a stadium. Two years earlier,
we're trying to keep our heads above .500, and it's free
to get in. Now there's a stadium being built.
And then they asked me if I would [take over] our women's
program. I didn't know much about the women - they played
at home when we were on the road and vice-versa. I said
I'd do it, but you've got to bring [the program] up to
the same standards that we had with the men. I remember
we played UC Santa Barbara, and we couldn't get the ball.
I thought, ''My goodness, how are we going to get this
off the ground?''
In the second year, I managed to sign Tiffeny [Milbrett].
She single-handedly turned the program around. There's no
question about that. She single-handedly turned
our women's program, which was so average, into a Top 10
team. She was magnificent. I tell our players all the
time: ''The only reason you're here is because of Tiff.
Because is she hadn't have come, you wouldn't have wanted
to be here. 'Cause we wouldn't have won a game.''
Tiffeny Milbrett:'Clive filled a void'
Tiffeny Milbrett grew up watching the Portland Timbers
and attending the team's summer camps. Charles, a
defender, was among the players who worked with her, and
she joined his FC Portland women's team when she was 15.
Going to Portland was a no-brainer for the future
national-team star. She joined the Pilots in Charles'
second year as women's coach.
''I never would have thought to go anywhere else,'' she
says. ''And I wouldn't have gone there if not for him. I
didn't go for the school, I didn't go for the education,
I went because Clive asked me to. When he asked, I said
yes within a half-second, without any thought.''
Charles was the father in Milbrett's life. ''I don't know
if he'd like me saying that,'' she says, ''but it's true.
When you talk about guidance, support, trust and love,
those are things you get from your parents. I didn't have
a father in my life. He filled that void.''
SA: Can you imagine coaching someplace else?
CC: I had the opportunity to coach at big schools.
And part of me wanted to do that because it was, well,
this is great. Offices far, far bigger than mine, the
budget's five times bigger, and the prestige.
When push came to shove, I couldn't leave. I've been
offered a lot more money. I've had the opportunity to
coach in MLS. I think it's easier to leave a place that
was already established when you went there. But to build
the place yourself, it's tough to leave.
SA: Put aspiring coaches in front of you, what kind of
advice would you give them?
CC: Be as honest as you can with your players.
SA: A lot of people were surprised by how well your
team did in the Olympics. Were you surprised?
CC: I was confident we could do well based on when
I did have my full team together, we always made a pretty
good account of ourselves. And to come fourth - no, I
didn't think we would get that far.
I certainly didn't think we'd win our group - that was a
tough group to come out of. But as time went on, I was,
''Hey, we can win this group.'' I enjoyed the hell out of
that. That was great.
SA: Would you consider taking another national team
CC: Part of me would like to, and another part of
me says keep taking the treatment, wake up in the
morning, and keep smelling the roses. I don't know. I
enjoy it. ... I don't know. If my health allows me to,
Cherundolo: 'I don't think winning is on top of his list'
Chris Brown, who had played for Charles at FC Portland
during his youth, became a Pilot because ''I knew I'd
have my best chance to be a pro with a coach like
''He told me,'' Gray says, ''that if I came to Portland,
I would leave a better player. If I wanted to be a
professional, I would be a professional. And he did just
Former Pilots speak of the intense learning environment
under Charles, one that is all business and great fun.
''The amazing thing about Clive,'' says San Jose
CyberRays defender Michelle French (1995-98), ''is he
makes everything so simple. Throw the ball to someone's
feet instead of their chest. Adjust your ankle to change
the pass. All these little things you never think about.
Soccer-wise, it's incredible, but the atmosphere is ...
we're always joking. People felt free to mess around with
Steve Cherundolo (1997-98) quickly gained overseas
interest after joining the Pilots. ''He told me, 'When
you're ready, I'll send you on your way. Until then, I
need all your efforts,' '' Cherundolo says. Charles told
him it was time to go following his sophomore season.
He's spent four years in Germany. Fellow Pilot Conor
Casey, who also departed with Charles' blessings after
his sophomore season, is Cherundolo's teammate at
Hannover. Dozens of Pilots have gone onto pro careers.
''When Clive wins, it's great for him, but I don't think
it's on top of his list,'' Cherundolo says. ''Players
becoming complete, living up to their abilities:<
That, I think, makes him most happy.''
SA: Ever think what your life would have been like if
you'd never left England?
CC: The best thing I ever did was leave England.
I'm a better coach [having stayed] in the United States.
I would be seeing things this way in England [uses his
hands as blinders on his eyes]. I'm here in the United
States [opens blinders]. In terms of coaching, if I sat
down and talked to people I played with in England, they
wouldn't understand what I was talking about.
I'm a way better coach being here, and I think I'm a
better coach having coached women. It taught me patience.
SA: How long did it take to learn that?
CC: Not very long. Because I was more
teaching-orientated than result-orientated. And you get
more frustrated when you lose. Whereas I was more
concerned with, ''Did we connect up with that pass?'' The
results were kind of secondary. I got my jollies out of
getting them to improve as players.
McIntosh: 'Winning lifted a weight from our shoulders'
Tiffeny Milbrett calls Portland's overtime triumph over
Santa Clara in last month's NCAA Division I women's final
''the best day of my life, hands down.''
Shannon MacMillan concurs. ''That was one of the most
emotional weekends of my life,'' she says. ''Hands down,
it's the highlight of my career. I don't think there's a
man, a program or a team more deserving than Clive and
''There was nothing better than seeing Clive's face''
after Christine Sinclair's golden goal, Gray says. ''His
face said it all.''
Wynne McIntosh - one of Charles' assistants in 2002 -
lost in three final fours, including the 1995 final,
while playing for the Pilots. ''I always felt so bad we
didn't win for the school and for Clive,'' she says. ''It
felt like the girls winning lifted a weight from our
Portland soccer, Milbrett says, means as much to her
today as when she was there. ''It might be more important
to me now. I understand things more. I have a better
perspective. My blood's purple - I think everyone else
would say that, too.''
SA: When you talk to players who have played at
Portland, there's an enormous outpouring of love for you.
What does that mean to you?
CC: Everything. That's why I'm still here. And I
love them. I tell them every day I love them. I can't
SA: Anything you'd like to add?
CC: I owe so
much to this game, I really do. I owe everything
to this game. And I'll never be able to repay what it's
links on this site include ...
Sons and Daughters: