Denis Hamlett Out as Fire Head Coach

Chicago Fire v New York Red Bulls

After two seasons at the helm, Denis Hamlett is out as Fire Head Coach. Hamlett, who took the Fire to two conference finals in his two year run as head coach, was told by Fire staff this afternoon that his expired contract would not be renewed this offseason. He will leave the club, effective immediately.

Hamlett joined the Fire for its inaugural season in 1998 and spent the last 11 years with the club, slowly working his way up the ladder from assistant to Head Coach.

Hamlett's tenure as head coach was characterized by many fans as a period of underachievement for the Fire which -- despite boasting one of the most talented rosters in MLS -- failed to bring home any trophies during Hamlett's run. Another factor that could have contributed to the non-renewal of Hamlett's contract is the controversy that has -- at times -- wrapped itself around Hamlett (and the club) in the last two years. The most notable instance took place on August 9th of this year, when Hamlett and former defender Bakary Soumare got into a highly publicized locker room spat at halftime of the Fire's regular season match at Houston.

"Denis has a long history with the club and has been a part its success since our inaugural year in 1998," said Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas. "We are grateful for his commitment to the Fire and his leadership throughout his career with the club. We wish him the very best and he will always be considered a part of the Fire family. Right now, the Fire has decided to take the team in a new direction in 2010."

The Fire will immediately begin the search for a new head coach. For the time being, Technical Director Frank Klopas will handle all team decisions.

While, I'm honestly on the fence regarding the parting of ways with Hamlett, I will say that it was a good move that the Fire did this early in the offseason. I would like to see them hire a new head coach (likely candidates include former D.C. coach Tom Soehn and current NYRB Interim Manager Richie Williams to name a couple) very quickly so the team can get off on the right foot in 2010.

Obviously I'll have much, much more on this story as we move along, but for now I'll let you all take it away.


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  • Christmas is here early !!!

  • This will be a popular decision. I hope it's the right one... I think it just might be.

  • Something extra to be thankful for tomorrow!!!!!!

  • Its the right decision as long as they get someone who is at least as good with out the locker room fights.

  • No reason to be doubtful we all know it was the right decision. Too many questionable decisions on his part. Now we can start rebuilding the team to make it a bigger impact on collecting some new trophies.

  • In reply to Adam25:

    *a trophy

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Thank you Denis Hamlett for all your years of service to the Fire, now thankfully, we can get somebody who knows how to win in MLS. Please, hire somebody who can win it all.

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Thanks for everything Denis. I wish you the best in your next stop except when you're playing the Fire.

    I have no idea who the Fire will hire to replace you and am concerned by that. But at least I know who to blame when Banner or Woolard go to Philly tomorrow. Klopas you've been warned.

  • In reply to Adam25:

    It's a little bit sad, he had a winning record. He was an assistant coach when Klopas was a player. But
    Three key failures in no particular order 1) Rolfe out of position 2) locker room fight with Baky 3) last year conference finals vs Crew, Pappa needed more minutes, the crew could have been beaten, and then red bulls I'm sure would have lost to the men in red.
    I wonder how much of Conde wanting to leave was JCO loyalty and how much was not being on board with Hamlett???
    Klopas will be fine for drafting, it would have been great to get Nowak, maybe Armas or Diego would take the job.

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Ps really nice work Sam, you have been in a zone lately, good luck on the semester grades.

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:

    Thanks a lot.

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:

    Not going to lie, and I'm well aware I'm in the minority, but I think the FO is making a mistake on this one.

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:


    Even though they are the most convenient choices, are Soehn and Williams really the answer? Can you honestly say that they will provide what Hamlett couldn't?

    To be honest, I dont think they can. Soehn, though with Fire back round, actually did less that Hamlett in the last two years in over all results. What makes us think he will magically become a stud coach? As for Williams, sure he started winning with Red Bull, but hamlett has more experience than Williams and hes hit the road packin. Finally, both possess the norm of average soccer for the MLS, Defend, pack it in dont let them score, and then counter to win 1-0. This is what we need to change. THe best defense is controlling the ball and pressuring.

    The Fire will be worse off with either coach. We need someone that can create an attractive and efficient style of soccer. Do I know who that is No... but i'm also not being paid to find him.

    Thoughts Sam?

  • In reply to TKing:


    I would completely agree with you in saying that Soehn probably can't really bring anything to the table that Hamlett couldn't.

    I'm not so sure Williams couldn't do a good job here though. He went 3-3-2 in 8 games as manager of an awful Red Bulls team this season and they seemed to really turn it around under him. And experience doesn't always mean everything. Look at the Crew's Robert Warzycha for instance. He had never been a MLS head coach prior to this season and ended up guiding his team to the Supporter's Shield (of course there was that whole playoff fiasco where he didn't play Schelotto in Game 1 at RSL...).

    Other than those two candidates nothing much really excites me. I'm not really sold on Curt Onalfo and -- to be completely honest -- I don't know a whole lot about Martin Vasquez (I'll be researching him a bit over the next few days...).

    I'm with you that I would love to see a more attractive/attacking brand of soccer though. We all know the old saying 'defense wins championships' but when you look at MLS champs from the past few years, quite a few of them have been very close to the top in goals scored -- something the Fire couldn't really say this year.

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:

    I think the Fire Organization is shady and is using Denis to cover their ass!

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:


    Any insight as to who will be making the final decision on the new coach? Will it be Hauptman, Leon, or Klopas? Who is compiling and interviewing the list of candidates?

  • In reply to cesba:

    As far as the final decision goes, I'm sure all three of them will have their say but, as owner, the buck stops with Hauptman.

    In regards to the search itself, I'm getting the sense from people inside the organization that Klopas will be running point. I'm sure Leon and Hauptman will be involved but I think it's more Klopas's thing.

  • In reply to cesba:

    come back Soumare :(

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:

    Thank you Fire Org. for actually paying attention to the fans and hearing us, screaming DOWN WITH HAMLETT! This is another step in the right direction, things are actually starting to come together and if Klopas plays his cards right, we could be in for a little surprise next year. Also, thanks to Sam for getting this to us. You've been on the ball lately, I actually think your Hauptman controversy may have helped the FO step in the right direction and listen to fans.
    get rid of Hamlett: check
    steal Schellotto from Crew: (not yet, but keep dreaming)
    listen to fans: pending

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Just so everyone knows, if DH played Frankowski last year he'd still be head coach. ;)

  • I hope Baky's thankful ass we all are, DJ.

  • In reply to patrickhattrick:

    Oops, meant AS. sorry

  • Well said

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