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Clive Charles, 51; Coach of U.S. Olympic and College Soccer Teams

August 27, 2003|Jim Barrero | Times Staff Writer

Clive Charles, an Englishman who coached U.S. national soccer teams and the University of Portland to unprecedented success after a 17-year career as a professional player, died Tuesday. He was 51.

Charles, who ended his playing career with the Los Angeles Lazers of the Major Indoor Soccer League in 1982, had been battling prostate cancer for about three years, but last December still led the women's team at Portland to the NCAA championship, the school's first title in any sport.

"We grieve for Clive's family and his thousands of friends at the university and around the world who have lost a generous and sensitive friend," the university's senior vice president, the Rev. E. William Beauchamp, said in a statement. "Clive's life and work were gifts of extraordinary worth, and his impact as teacher and coach, friend and mentor, will be felt ... for many years to come."

Former Portland player Shannon MacMillan, who earlier Tuesday was named to the U.S. team that will compete for the 2003 Women's World Cup this fall, said she holds Charles in high regard.

"I definitely owe my career and where I am today to that man," MacMillan said of Charles, who also coached MacMillan's World Cup teammate Tiffeny Milbrett at Portland. "I didn't really have a lot of confidence when I came to Portland, and he helped me become a happy, confident person."

Charles was diagnosed with cancer in July 2000, weeks before the Sydney Olympics, where he coached the U.S. team to the semifinals. He did not publicly reveal his illness until March 2002.

He also was an assistant coach for the U.S. World Cup team in 1998 in France and coached the U.S. women's under-20 team.

Charles had coached Portland's men's team since 1986 and added the women's team to his duties three years later. He had a combined 439-144-44 record, was one of five NCAA coaches to win more than 400 college games and led Portland to a combined 13 conference titles, 20 NCAA tournament berths and seven Final Four appearances.

Charles, who was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame earlier this month, was born in London and played in the English Premier League as a defender with West Ham and Cardiff City before coming to the U.S. to play in the North American Soccer League with the Portland Timbers, Montreal Olympics and Pittsburgh Spirit.

Charles is survived by his wife, Clarena, son Michael and daughter Sarah.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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