Thursday afternoon the Chicago Fire announced what many had been speculating would be the case for weeks. Owner Andrew Hauptman held a press conference to officially introduce Frank Klopas as the club's permanent head coach, dropping the "interim" title he has held since the club released Carlos De Los Cobos on Memorial Day weekend some five months ago.
Klopas, who Hauptman brought into the Fire organization in 2008 after buying the team stepped in as the Fire's interim head coach when De Los Cobos was released in a move that initially was only intended to last through the end of the season. After a strong finish, going 7-2-1 in the last 10 matches it seemed more and more likely that Klopas would remain in the head coaching role. Many within the club cited a different feel to the clubhouse upon Klopas' arrival in the locker room and although he initially stated that he did not want to leave his Technical Director position, by season's end Klopas had experienced a change of heart saying openly in the final weeks of the season that he enjoyed his tenure as interim coach and wanted to continue with this group of players.
Those statements made today's press conference all but a formality, as Hauptman and Klopas both expressed their excitement over the official appointment. When asked about the search for a permanent head coach owner Andrew Hauptman said, "There were a handful who in the end were serious candidates....in the back of my mind, even though Frank wasn't asking for it overtly or covertly, in the back of my head I thought 'you know, Frank might very well be right." He went on to say that, in his mind ultimately Hauptman "always believed Frank was the one."
Hauptman went on to later address the need to fill a void in the Technical Director role stating that the TD position is one that will ultimately be filled by Managing Director Javier Leon and Director of Player Personnel Mike Jeffries in assisting Klopas as he steps back from those duties. In spite of this, Klopas will remain as a pivot man for any first team moves made by the club but another hire is a possibility. Listen to Hauptman's post press conference comments here.
Gargan, Gibbs Contracts
In other Fire news, Dan Gargan said he has not yet talked to the Fire organization about picking up his club option for next year. Gargan, as well as Cory Gibbs and numerous others not specifically named by Klopas have yet to begin talks with the club. Player meetings however are set to begin next week. (Gargan audio also here)
Jersey Sponsor Near?
Hauptman also stated after the press conference that the club has made "meaningful progress" in it's search for a jersey sponsor although he declined to offer much more information than that at the present. He also denied any correlation between the lack of revenue generated by a jersey sponsor and the Fire's lack of a DP touting the acquisition of Sebastian Grazzini as a solid pickup by the club who lacked the DP title.
In case you missed it...you can also listen to the entire press conference at the Fire Confidential podcast page as well.