Hamlett's Dismissal: More than on-the-field issues

Chicago Fire v CD Chivas USA

The Fire headed into this question with a few big questions on their plate. One of those questions was whether or not the club would renew Head Coach Denis Hamlett's contract.

That question was answered Tuesday afternoon, with the team electing to not bring the longtime member of the Fire organization back to Toyota Park.

But why is Hamlett now looking for work? After all, he did lead the team to the conference final in both of his seasons in charge.

"If you look at it you can say, 'look the team [made] the conference final two years in a row,' but I think that there are a lot of things that go into this whole process," said a source close to the team. "Managing the group, almost treating them like a psychologist [would], getting the best out of players, game management; those are all things that you can put into it."
That those "things" weren't being accomplished was perhaps most evident on August 9th, when Hamlett and former defender Bakary Soumare were involved in a highly publicized locker-room showdown at halftime of the team's 3-2 loss to Houston.

The incident, which served as a major distraction for the team throughout the saga and quickened Soumare's departure to France, was kind of a microcosm of what went wrong in Hamlett's tenure. He never quite seemed to get the players to be able to give that maximum effort or concentration on a consistent basis -- something that was undoubtedly a factor in the numerous late goals the Fire gave up this year.

In the end, I'm not too surprised that the off-the-field factors played a role in Hamlett's dismissal. None of the issues -- whether they were in the locker room or anywhere else -- did him any favors today, when the Fire decided not to bring him back.

On a personal note, I'm saddened to see Denis go. He was always a good guy to me -- even in the rougher times -- and he certainly does a good job of keeping reporters on their toes. I sincerely wish him the best of luck in the future and it's a bummer his long tenure with the Fire had to end on a sour note.

On a professional note, I think getting rid of Denis is the right move -- provided the Fire finds a clear improvement to replace him. I think getting rid of Denis to hire former D.C. coach (and Fire player) Tom Soehn or former Kansas City head man Curt Onalfo would be a mistake.

The jury's still out on current guys like Interim Head Coach of the New York Red Bulls Richie Williams or former Fire player/assistant Chris Armas, both of whom lack significant head coaching experience.

No matter which direction the Fire goes though, I would like to see them pick a new head man soon. It would be nice to have him in place before the draft.


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  • This strange exodus of Fire players and coaching this season has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I actually think this will be the most entertaining postseason yet, between the hunt for a new coach, signing a new DP, trying to renew Pappa's contract, etc. So thanks for keeping us updated on all of this, and Happy Thanksgiving!
    I'd like to see Chris Armas or Diego come in for the job. Lack of experience, but they both would know most of the players, unless everybody leaves. They would know:
    Maybe McBride indirectly
    Dasan Robinson
    I think that's about it.

  • Mayyybbb Armas, but we need a coach who very good, but also willing to stay with the club for a long long time. Hamlett was willing to stay, but he was only ok. Preki would have been ok, but I think Soehn is not the answer. Look at all the talent he had in DC? It would be more of the same here. That said, I do not believe he is a worst coach than Hamlett either.

    Why not pluck Frank Yallop from San Jose? Or should I dare say it? Get Juan Carlos Osorio back? srry - don't flame me for that one lol.

  • So what are your thoughts about Ives' blog saying this whole thing is Hauptman's fault because he is too invovled in running the team?

  • In reply to eamuscatuli72:

    I'm not so sure about Ives's piece. I'm sure he drew his conclusions from viable sources inside the organization but -- journalistically -- the fact that he didn't mention any of that in the story (he did later mention he had sources close to the Fire in the comments section) makes me uneasy about the whole piece.

    Also, I'm not sure if anyone is really to blame for this situation. Sure, Hamlett did a good job but the fact is he did not meet the expectations -- winning a trophy -- of the club. Did he deserve more than 2 years? Maybe. But with the state of flux the team is in right now I don't think it was a horrible idea to head in a new direction.

    As far as comparing Hauptman to Raiders owner Al Davis, I think that's a little far. Al Davis seems like a crazy person. Hauptman seems perfectly rational. Sure, he may (may being the key word there) stick his nose into soccer decisions but that's his right as owner.

    Also, I've heard that Klopas is the one who made the decision to fire Hamlett, not Hauptman or Leon, so someone close to the situation is not telling the truth. Who that is we may never know, but in the end I don't think that firing Hamlett means that the sky is falling for the organization as whole. After all, meddling owners (which personally, I'm not so sure that Hauptman is...) can be just as good for an organization (take a look at George Steinbrenner) as they are bad (Davis).

    So, overall, I thought Ives's piece went a bit too far. From everything I've garnered from the situation it doesn't seem that Hauptman was overly-involved in the whole situation (now that may not be the case...) but regardless of what the case is, the piece certainly asks some questions which I plan on finding out the answers to.

  • In reply to eamuscatuli72:

    Im glad Ives wrote what he did for the posts that it generated. In one sense it's too bad Nowak was not an option, I think that would be good in itself and for ticket sales.
    Rolfe, Baky, bad sub calls, Conde.... Too many missteps.
    Let's see what's next.

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