It goes without saying that it's been a busy first three weeks of the offseason for Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas.
Parting ways with former head coach Denis Hamlett, seeing Chris Rolfe and Cuauhtemoc Blanco leave the team, and retaining Brian McBride, C.J. Brown and Marco Pappa for 2010 (and beyond in the case of Pappa) are only some of the moves that Klopas has made this offseason. But despite this litany of transactions, Klopas has yet to make his most important decision: hiring the club's next head coach.
But the lack of a hire doesn't mean that Klopas isn't progressing with his search. In fact, the truth is quite the contrary.
"It's moving along quite well actually," Klopas said. "I'm feeling pretty good about it. At this moment it's about [putting together] the list of candidates and... identifying a list of guys that we feel can lead this team going forward." Klopas, who declined to share any names that are currently on his "list," isn't confining his search to candidates with MLS experience.
"We're looking everywhere," he said. "You'd be surprised how many people are interested. It's just a matter of narrowing that list and making sure that the guys that walk in - no matter what experience they have - understand the expectations here."
Making sure that the next head coach understands those expectations - which are always lofty for the Fire - is something Klopas is placing paramount importance on.
"He has to know from an organizational standpoint what the goal is," Klopas said. "And that's obviously to win a championship. To win games but also to play good soccer on the field, that's the goal. So the coach that you bring in has to be able to put that plan together."
Though he wouldn't go as far as to say he wants a coach who employs an offensive style of play, Klopas did insinuate that he wants to see free flowing soccer played at Toyota Park next year.
"When you look at the best teams in the world they're teams that can be dynamic on the field, that can have good movement off the ball, that can go forward moving quickly," Klopas said. "And I feel that we do have a lot of talented players that can play like that."
Ideally, the Fire would like to have a coach in place by the start of the rookie combine on January 6th. However, Klopas is stressing that he'll take his time with the hire as to be sure that the next head coach is the absolute right man for the job.
"It would be great to be able to get this process done," he said. "But this is a very important decision so you don't want to rush into anything."
"You want to make sure you do your homework the right way and make the right decision so it's hard to put a timetable on it."