C.J. Brown, who has been the face of Chicago Fire soccer and was a member of the inaugural team in 1998, will have another MLS team affiliation stamped to his name.
Real Salt Lake named Brown its assistant coach on Tuesday as he replaces Robin Fraser, who took over the head coach role with Chivas USA.
"C.J. has been a highly respected defender in MLS for a long time," RSL head coach Jason Kreis said. "He has shown what loyalty, professionalism, hard work and dedication can get you in MLS as a player, and I'm certain he will bring those same qualities to his coaching. We are pleased to be adding not only a terrific soccer mind to our staff, but also a terrific man that truly wants to succeed at this new challenge in his life."
Brown's first contact with Salt Lake first started at the MLS Combine, and talks progressed from there.
"I'm glad that they gave me the opportunity," Brown said on the Bill and Spence Show on ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City. "It's a very good coaching staff, a great coaching staff. They have a good club and everybody I've spoken with has been very good to me. I'm excited to get started. I really want to keep pushing this program in the right direction."
Brown was coaching the Fire Juniors program and expressed toward the end of the 2010 season his desire to become an assistant coach in MLS once he retired -- preferably assisting with the Fire.
But when the Fire did have an opening following the departure of Naperville native and U.S. U-18 men's national team head coach Mike Matkovich, Chicago instead went with former Toronto FC assistant Leo Percovich.
"This is a great opportunity for C.J., and everyone at the Fire is very happy for him," Fire technical director Frank Klopas said in a statement. "We are grateful for all of his contributions to the club, and we wish C.J. and his wife, Kim, and their two girls the very best."
While the Fire have not publicly expressed the reasons for passing up on Brown to work his way into an assistant role with the Fire, two factors weighed heavily in Percovich's favor: Percovich is bilingual, so the Uruguayan native's communication among the players and predominantly Spanish-speaking Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos will not get lost in translation, and Percovich has MLS coaching experience as an assistant for two years with Toronto and as a goalkeeper coach with the Colorado Rapids and Chivas USA.