Fire reportedly set to hire ex-Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop
BY SETH GRUEN Staff Reporter October 31, 2013 12:19AM
Frank Klopas compiled a 39-27-23 record as the Fire’s coach. He was dismissed Wednesday on the 15th anniversary of his U.S. Open Cup-winning goal in 1998. | Getty Images
Updated: October 31, 2013 11:02AM
Since Andrew Hauptman purchased the Fire in 2007, the team has gone through four presidents and four coaches.
The latest victims came Wednesday, when the Fire dismissed coach Frank Klopas and president of soccer operations Javier Leon after failing to make the playoffs this season.
According to reports, the Fire will hire Frank Yallop, who led the San Jose Earthquakes to MLS Cup titles in 2001 and 2003. He returned to the Earthquakes for the 2008 season and stepped down in June.
Yallop, who guided the Earthquakes to the MLS’ best regular-season record in 2012, reportedly was the leading candidate for the Vancouver Whitecaps’ coaching vacancy, but the Fire acted fast.
In the last 11 months, the Fire has gone through two presidents in Leon and Julian Posada, who stepped down Dec. 19, 2012. At the time of Posada’s departure, Hauptman wrote an open letter to fans that was posted on the Fire’s website, but team officials declined to comment on the situation further.
The dismissal of Klopas, a Chicago soccer icon who led Mather to a Public League championship and scored the winning goal for the Fire in the U.S. Open Cup title game on Oct. 30, 1998 — exactly 15 years before he was let go — is a curious decision.
Klopas was hired as technical director in 2008, then took over as interim coach after the Fire dismissed Carlos de los Cobos in 2011. Despite a poor start in 2011, the Fire nearly made the playoffs that season.
In 2012, Klopas guided the Fire to a 17-11-6 record before it fell in a single-elimination game in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Injuries at the start of the 2013 season left the Fire in a 2-7-2 hole. The biggest was to center back Arne Friedrich, a German World Cup veteran, who was forced to retire because of a hip injury.
But the Fire rallied to finish 14-13-7, falling just short of the playoffs. The team lost its season finale 5-2 on Sunday to the New York Red Bulls. It would have clinched a playoff spot with a victory.
‘‘No one appreciates Frank’s passion, integrity and competitive spirit more than me,’’ Hauptman said in a statement. ‘‘Frank has been a big part of this organization for many years as a player, Ring of Fire member, technical director and coach. I want to personally thank him for his efforts over this period. He is a wonderful friend and will always be a member of the Fire family.’’