New Fire coach Frank Yallop gets expanded duties
BY MATT HARNESS Sun-Times Media October 31, 2013 9:28PM
Frank Yallop, Adnrew Hauptman
Updated: December 2, 2013 12:51PM
In a span of a few days, Fire owner Andrew Hauptman reshaped his organization.
Earlier this week, he dismissed coach Frank Klopas and president of soccer operations Javier Leon. On Thursday, Hauptman announced the hiring of Frank Yallop, MLS’s 2012 coach of the year, for both jobs at a downtown news conference.
Hauptman insisted the terminations of Klopas and Leon, who had worked at the club together since 2008, was not a direct result of Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the New York Red Bulls, which cost the Fire a spot in the postseason. Rather, Hauptman said he based his decision on the total body of work. This was the third time in four seasons the Fire missed out on the playoffs.
“It was a natural time for a change,” said Hauptman, who’s cycled through four presidents and four coaches since buying the team in 2007. “It made sense.”
Hauptman and Yallop have known each other for years, dating back to Yallop’s time as coach of the San Jose Earthquakes. The two had dinner together Tuesday, and that’s when Hauptman said he came to the conclusion to alter the soccer side of his organization.
“Given the time frame, it was very swift and in some ways we were blessed to come to a decision as soon as possible,” Hauptman said. “We were in a position to have a seamless transition and not lose a day.”
A native of Watford, England, the 49-year-old Yallop comes to Chicago after coaching the Earthquakes for nearly six seasons. He was removed as coach in June following the club’s slow start.
“I wouldn’t say it was a parting of the ways, but it was the best thing for both parties,” said Yallop, who won two MLS Cups (2001, 2003) with the Earthquakes during his first stint with the team.
Hauptman’s offer to hand over control of personnel was a big lure for Yallop, who was 117-107-84 in 11 seasons as coach with both San Jose and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
“I feel that with my experience in the league and my coaching that’s gone on throughout the years, I’ve learned a lot,” Yallop said. “I feel like the player decisions I have will impact us on the field. In the end, I will have the final decisions who we get into the club, and that was something I was looking for and am excited about.”
A former defender of the year in MLS, Yallop plans to meet with Fire players next week.
“The team itself, with a bit of tinkering, is a good squad,” he said.