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Influence of coach Frank Klopas is felt throughout the Fire franchise

Frank Klopas Chicago Fire headshot MediDay January 18 2012 ToyotPark Bridgeview Illinois. | Phoby Brian Kersey

Frank Klopas of the Chicago Fire, headshot on Media Day, January 18, 2012 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. | Photo by Brian Kersey

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Updated: July 3, 2012 12:10PM

Getting Fire coach Frank Klopas to talk about himself is about as difficult as getting him to talk about his team’s lineup in an upcoming game.

But the unassuming Klopas will have a tough time dodging the spotlight as the Fire continues to solidify itself as an MLS Cup contender just a year removed from missing the playoffs.

Klopas, who began his head-coaching career in earnest this season after spending a portion of 2011 with the interim tag, has quickly developed the Fire into a tactically and technically sound team — drawing from his playing experiences overseas and with the U.S. national team.

That has helped him garner the respect of even the most celebrated Fire players.

“That is important when you play at a high level, when you play for the national team, when you play international games,” said midfielder Pavel Pardo, the player with the second-most appearances in history for the Mexican national team. “You know about the competition.

“Of course every game and every training is about pushing the guys. For me, it’s very important to have a coach with this mentality.”

As much as Klopas’ presence has been felt by the organization on the field, he’s been as much of an asset off it.

Despite having little experience as head man, Klopas has proven adept at signing young, international players to the roster.

This offseason he signed highly regarded Colombian Rafael Robayo, 25-year-old Uruguayan Federico Puppo and 23-year-old Brazilian midfielder Alex Monteiro De Lima, who will be added to the roster when the secondary transfer window opens on June 27. To boot, Klopas brought in German center back and World Cup veteran Arne Friedrich to solidify his defense.

But they aren’t the only players who have shown interest in coming here.

The internationally regarded Pardo, who signed with the team two months after Klopas took over as interim coach, said he has received numerous calls from players showing interest in the Fire.

It’s a culture Klopas has developed since he came on as the team’s technical director in 2008.

“With guys like that [international players], sometimes it’s not always easy to bring in younger players, but I think they look at the club, they look at the philosophy,” Klopas said.

On Tuesday, the club starts Open Cup play against the host Michigan Bucks in Pontiac, hoping to win the title for the first time since 2006.

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