Klopas takes reins for Fire
By Len Ziehm Special to Sun-Times Media May 31, 2011 9:46PM
Updated: September 11, 2011 12:22AM
Frank Klopas took over coaching duties with the Fire on Tuesday, then addressed the reasons for his dismissal of previous head man Carlos de los Cobos.
The Fire won only 10 of 41 Major League Soccer matches under de los Cobos and is embroiled in a franchise-record nine-game winless streak. De los Cobos was given the word Sunday, after the team’s 2-2 tie against the San Jose Earthquakes at Toyota Park. Klopas ran his first practice Tuesday after explaining the move to his players.
‘‘I told them the most important thing as far as they’re concerned is that I believe in them. I wouldn’t have stepped in to do this if I didn’t,’’ he said.
The Fire went 9-12-9 last season under de los Cobos and 10-16-15 overall.
‘‘The decision didn’t happen in one day or two days. It was a process,’’ said Klopas, the club’s technical director. ‘‘We had to make the right decision for the team moving forward.’’
Klopas said the decision was his and was made in conjunction with player personnel director Mike Jeffries. It wasn’t mandated by Fire owner Andrew Hauptman, who lives in California.
‘‘We run the soccer operation, and soccer people make soccer decisions,’’ Klopas said. ‘‘Carlos is a great human being. I have tremendous respect for him, but sometimes things don’t work out.’’
Klopas named de los Cobos the coach after not renewing the contract of Denis Hamlett, who had guided the Fire to the Eastern Conference finals in 2008 and 2009.
Klopas’ coaching experience is limited. He was a Fire assistant under Bob Bradley a year after retiring as a player and was head coach of the indoor Chicago Storm in 2004 and ’05.