Monday, October 31, 2011
Fire still evaluating Klopas' future
By Charlie Corr
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- More than one week removed from the Chicago Fire's season finale, the team is in its early stages of evaluating a season that came up short of the playoffs.
Fire players continue with their training at the Toyota Park practice field. To date, the team has yet to determine any player options that will be picked up for 2012, and the coaching future will be the offseason's hottest topic until the organization figures out which direction it wants to go -- either staying with Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas, or looking outside for another candidate.
"There's a lot of things going on right now, even with us with training," Klopas said following Friday's training. "There's a lot of things from upper management that's been going on. I know within the next week, for sure, we'll speak about [the coaching situation] and try to come up with the best solution moving forward for the club.
"I really came in thinking one way, but I really enjoyed being on the sidelines and doing this," Klopas said. "So for sure it's on my mind and I'm thinking about it."
Klopas' tone toward the coaching position has changed quite a bit since the team's technical director first took on the interim role after Carlos de los Cobos' firing 11 games into the season.
"You want players to know that that's not what I wanted initially," Klopas said. "Because we brought a guy in and we believed in him. It's not like something was going on behind his back for something like that to happen. So I did it because of the right reasons at that moment.
"I'm a soccer guy. When I stopped playing, you always want to be on the field and be doing what I'm doing now. So we'll see. I definitely have enjoyed it. I just think that what I said was the right thing at that moment."
The team has not confirmed a specific time frame toward making this critical coaching decision. A source told ESPN Chicago that the Fire want to "move very quickly with whatever decision" they make, and that they are taking a similar postseason evaluation process that they underwent following De los Cobos' 2010 season.
But the previous offseason involved much more than what the Fire are anticipating this time around. Heading into the 2011 season the team reconfigured its support coaching staff, removed some dead weight with players such as Nery Castillo and Collins John, had to find replacements for retirees Brian McBride and C.J. Brown, and figure out plenty of other positional changes.
The team has yet to determine which direction Klopas' future will be -- as a coach or a technical director. But according to a source, people within the Fire organization noticed a dramatic change in Klopas' character when he took on the interim role, showing a more "demanding" demeanor and "understanding what the stakes were."
If anything, the writing on the wall appears to favor a coaching future (he was 8-5-10 this year) over a technical future. A source said that Klopas had little knowledge of the business side of the technical director position when he first was brought in, saying that the organization and league do not allow for a trial-and-error approach or a multi-year waiting period for key signings. Unfortunately from the Fire's standpoint and under Klopas' technical watch, several players fell into those categories during the 2010 campaign.
"As long as I'm involved in the game, doing something that I love professionally, it would be great," Klopas said. "For me, more than anything, I still want to be a part of the Fire organization because I grew up in the city here, and it's a fantastic organization."