Los Angeles Soccer: Denis Hamlett
Denis Hamlett, the former Chicago Fire head coach who made the final three in Chivas USA's search for a new on-field boss, has joined expansion Vancouver Whitecaps' coaching staff.Robin Fraser, who last week was introduced as Chivas' sixth head coach; Juan Carlos Osorio, who turned down the Goats' overtures to remain in charge of Colombian champion Once Caldas; and Hamlett were the finalists for the Chivas position.
Hamlett, 41, who spent 12 seasons coaching with the Fire -- the last two, 2008 and 2009, as head coach -- will be one of Icelandic coach Teitur Thordarson's assistants with the Whitecaps pending receipt of a Canadian work permit.
Hamlett was head coach last fall at NAIA school Illinois Tech.
Word that Juan Carlos Osorio was Chivas USA's choice to take the on-field reins was greeted with disdain by Goats fans who remember how bad the New York Red Bulls, under his command, were in 2009.
What they forget is the run to the Eastern Conference final in 2007 with Chicago, which he rescued at midseason -- OK, Cuauhtemoc Blanco had plenty to do with that, too. And 2008 with the Red Bulls, who pulled off a series of stunners to reach the MLS Cup final.
Osorio could be a nice fit for Chivas USA, except, it appears, he has decided to turn down the offer. The Colombian coach, citing family and competitive reasons (doesn't want to uproot his family, wants to coach in Copa Libertadores), has told media outlets in his homeland that he's going to stick with Once Caldas, the club with which he just won the national title.
So ... what's next for the Goats?
The other finalists, sources inside and outside the club reported, are Real Salt Lake assistant coach Robin Fraser and former Chicago Fire head coach Denis Hamlett, who was a Fire assistant for a decade before taking charge.
The Jamaica-born Fraser, a former star central defender with the Galaxy (who made 27 appearances with the U.S. national team), is among the league's most respected assistants; he's a fiercely cultured and intelligent student of the game who is going to get a shot as a head coach somewhere.
The Costa Rica-born Hamlett, also a former central defender with L.A. ties (he played for the indoor Anaheim Splash in the mid-1990s), was a highly respected assistant who took charge of the Fire after Osorio departed for New York. He was dismissed after Chicago lost on penalties to Real Salt Lake in the 2009 Eastern Conference final. Hamlett was in charge this fall at NAIA school Illinois Tech.
Fraser is respected by his players, Hamlett (owing to a more difficult personality) less so.
Chivas also could widen their search, but given that the club will not give the head coach complete control of the soccer operations, the pool of real contenders is rather narrow, unless management pulls in a coach from within parent club Guadalajara's system. That might be disastrous: To succeed, Chivas needs a coach with knowledge of the league and its odd (by international standards) roster rules.
Former Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Ososrio is the choice, several sources (including one inside the club) have told ESPN Los Angeles, but Chivas USA has been forced to wait until the close of the Colombian season before it could make an announcement.
The other finalists, the sources say, were Real Salt Lake assistant coach Robin Fraser, a former star defender for the Galaxy and other clubs, and Denis Hamlett, who succeeded Osorio as head coach of the Fire.
Cue, also Chivas' president, and interim general manager Jose L. Domene were in Mexico and unavailable for comment.
Others considered for the job were former U.S. national team striker Eric Wynalda, whose staff would have included Chivas legends Ramon Ramirez and Claudio Suarez, and former Chivas USA captain Jesse Marsch, an assistant coach for the U.S. national team. Wynalda withdrew his name from consideration three weeks ago.
Osorio, who attended Southern Connecticut State University and began his coaching career with long-defunct minor-league side Staten Island Vipers in 1998, was an assistant to MetroStars coach Octavio Zambrano in 2000-01. After his time at Man City, he took charge of Colombia's Millonarios, his first head-coaching job.
He resurrected a struggling Chicago side in 2007, guiding it to a 6-3-6 record the second half of the season and into the Eastern Conference final before bolting to the Red Bulls (the rebranded MetroStars). He took New York to the 2008 MLS Cup title game, but resigned about two-thirds into a horrid 2009 campaign, stepping down with the Red Bulls 2-16-4 and without a win in more than three months.