Frank Klopas Announced As Head Coach - Jersey Sponsor Near?

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.

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  • I wish Frank the best... He can do it

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Amen to that! Sometimes a great coach appears unheralded and without significant coaching credentials. Frank seems to have the knack of inspiring and leading. Attitude & atmosphere can be a significant and elusive facet. The late season has had some frustrating moments. But overall, it's hard to deny the evolution we witnessed over the last 2-3 months.

    The book will be out on Frank for some time yet but he's earned his turn and this team wants him. Let them play!

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    I'll be interested in which shirt sponsor we will pick up. I loved the Best Buy one, simply because Best Buy is an amazing store.

  • I'm putting my bets on the kit sponsor being Groupon: Chicago-based company going public today.

  • In reply to dustbin:

    I think a Groupon sponsporship deal would be awesome.

  • At the last match of the season the team stores were offering jerseys at a "buy-one, get-one-free" deal. I'm no expert at reading tea leaves but something tells me that means something new is coming our way aside from the generic tweaking done to sell a "new" jersey. We did, after all, have the same adidas "Best Buy" shirt for around 3 years. Now I'm sure it won't include a flag-shirt but a guy can dream, right?

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    At least part of the reason for that is because of this season being the end of the two year cycle on this jersey design (also the reason the Fire did t have better than a blank white jersey after losing BB). Everyone's trying to dump off stock of the 2010-11 jersey. I was in the Adidas outlet w/ my son last night, and they had Philly and NYRB jerseys for $20, w/ and additional buy-one-get-one-half-off sale. That deal at the end of the season (that's still going on) has less to do with anything sponsor related than it does a new 2012 design coming.

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    It won't be a flag jersey unfortunately but the new road kits will certainly be different from the current plain white attire.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Personally, I was a major fan of the shimmering white away kits. They were classy.

  • I am pleased to say you were wrong, Guillermo, when you predicted we'd seen the max extent of the Trib's MLS playoff coverage. They had blurbs of each quarterfinal matchup (each with a photo) and today, beneath the Klopas story, they had an MLS playoffs section that included a mention of the extended ban for Marquez. Nothing compared to the Epstein coverage but I was pleasantly surprised.

  • In reply to Doug:

    Glad to be wrong on that one!

  • That's some great news there, Doug. I don't get the hard copy anymore, but that is a pleasant surprise indeed!

  • Orrin Schwarz raises some interesting questions about the assistant coaches.......

    http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20111103/sports/711039615/

  • Eric Wynalda has some interesting thoughts on the MLS calendar, player moves, and more......

    http://www.beyondthepitch.net/podcasts/edition/index.cfm/beyond-the-pitch/2011/10/31/eric-wynalda/

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I've never been a fan of switching to the FIFA calendar for MLS in the past, but Eric makes an extremely compelling argument in my opinion.

  • I'm with you on that one, Jeff. I pressed Play on that podcast excited to make fun of how dumb Wynalda's argument was, and then..... hmmm, he made some damn good points.

    I'm still not sold on the weather issue, but I've always thought the schedule-makers could be clever and appease everyone with some warmer cities getting home games mid nov -dec, and mid feb - early march. That, with a 6 week break or so starting right before Xmas until mid february. It's not a typical American pro schedule, but I think the many positives that Wynalda mentions FAR outweigh this issue.

    We make fun of the way MLS schedule-makers take forever and often encounter so many issues, but I'm starting to think they're just more handcuffed with regards to appeasing the int'l schedule rather than just simply inept. Either way, they should try it for a few years and see what the results are -- what's the worst that can happen? No one will watch? It's not exactly like the numbers are gigantic as it is.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    I think it's worth considering. I do believe one issue they would have, though, is retaining suitable pitches for some teams (as if that's not already an issue *cough*Livestrong Park*cough*). Extra costs associated with heating pitches or increased proactive maintenance from colder weather makes it more difficult for some than others (say LA vs. Colorado, for instance). Because the nation, and our league is so spread out, as opposed to everyone being somewhat level in that regard like in Germany or England, would lend itself to some clubs having an advantage by default. Clubs in a naturally warmer climate could be said to have an advantage over colder weather teams.

    I'd like to think that weather wouldn't factor in from a fan/ticket sales perspective, but reality is, NFL fans are crazy. I've gladly sat through sub-30 degree temps for Bears games before. Soccer fans in the US don't seem to share that level of insanity for their clubs. I'm convinced that some of those same Bears fans who would sit through a tundra to watch them play Green Bay wouldn't do the same to watch the Fire take on Sporting KC (a scenario that nearly did play itself out with a home opener around 30 degrees at kickoff this year).

    I don't think weather's a huge factor, I think aclimating MLS fans to braving cold weather for their clubs is, especially when they've cheered them on for months in warm summer temps for the majority of the season.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Good points, definitely, and things to consider. I'd still like to give it a shot. Many of the stadiums have an attendance drop in the super hot days as it is (there's always 2-3 games at TP per year when it seems there aren't more than 7k in the stands).

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    Agreed. I still think it's worth trying as well. While I think the weather could be an attendance deterrent, I don't think it's worth throwing out the whole concept for. Who knows, perhaps we'll see the Soccer Don come out at this year's final saying a MLS schedule coinciding with FIFA's is going to trial.

    Or at least we can dream it. :)

  • /\ I meant to say *for years in warm summer temps.....

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    I'm not a big proponent of the "MLS to Euro calendar" argument but as RedLine said I'll be damned if Wynalda didn't present a compelling and coherent argument for it. I can't see it happening anytime soon however in any cirsumstance. Wynalda simplified it but playing in front of 3,000 fans on a 20 degree day in a televised match also sends a bad signal to potential advertisers. It would also give the moronic "Jim Rome's" of the sports world some ammunition in their fading nobody cares argument.

    Have to build up the league to a point where it can sustain that type of move before attepting to do it. The league won't be able to live on selling mid-summer friendlies against Euro teams in every market for every team. Manchester United and Barcelona can only play so many cross continent meaningless warm-ups.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    True enough. I can't listen to it now, but I thought he addressed that sponsors and advertisements would likely go up for some reason. For a city like Chicago, it would definitely be more difficult to make a Euro calendar work weather-wise, but for most cities I think it would be the same -- not too much better or worse. Even Seattle and Portland don't get a whole lot of snow or extremely cold weather.

    The weather issue aside (albeit a big issue), I thought the transfer/loan and player dissatisfaction talk was the more serious issue regarding the near and long term future of the league. Those points were pretty good.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    Yes...he stated the case for straightening out issues regarding the transfer window very well. There's no easy answer for that one and unfortunately won't get any easier any time soon.

  • One other issue that hasn't been raised in terms of changing the calendar is the scheduling of USOC and CCL play. Presumably if MLS changed its schedule, so would the USOC, but that could be a big burden on lower tiers clubs that won't have the resources to maintain their pitches in cold weather. Making MLS teams hosts all the games would really go against the spirit of the tournament, too. Changing the CCL would be complicated, too, if only because so many leagues are involved, though I'm not familiar with how all of their schedules work.

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    In reply to Mateu:

    Seattle already hosts them all plus the Championships anyway so it really doesn't matter when they hold it.

  • I think a 2 season league like a claustura/apetura would be better, then the size of a winter break that would be needed.

    additionally, there will be a problem with TV because there will be more choices, NBC i believe is looking for MLS to be its summer anchor, where the nhl is the winter. ESPN has college bball, and the nba in winter..

    I think less tv choice, and less people in seats in the NE, and midwest would be a bad choice. The fan base if not committed enough yet to brave the weather. Not to mention the extra costs for heating the pitch, even the Big10 finishes all the games before dec so that they don't have to heat the fields, and like i said a winter break of dec, jan, feb is to long..

  • In reply to lijien:

    The weather issue really can't be minimized. I agree with you on that. Good point on the TV issues as well.

  • I thought Wynalda's case was very compelling. His comments about American players and the transfer window were the most insightful for me.

    One thing you get from Wynalda is consistent advocacy from a player's perspective. That was one of his biggest reasons for favoring Klinsmann for the US job - that the players can look to him for guidance in big games knowing that he has been there himself, and succeeded.

    Here Wynalda argued that players are getting screwed by the MLS schedule because their value is at its lowest in the December window, meaning that the only way a Euro team is going to pick up an American player then is if they're looking to shore up a squad ravaged by injuries, etc. Now, he clearly has an axe to grind with MLS about the way they manage player transfers, which he makes clear in the podcast.

    But I also think he has a point about thinking about how MLS can extend the season to get more playing time (which Klinsi also mentioned as an imperative). This, he said, is also in the interest of players who want to build their value through national team performances and who want to show that they will not peter out when they play in Europe.

    I like the idea of scheduling more mid-season games on a Euro schedule in mild-weather areas. But if I'm a Houston or Dallas, I'm probably thinking about the revenue and fan support I'm going to lose if I host the meaningless Dec games (equivalent to July now) and miss out on April - May games with playoff implications. So there's a lot of internal politics and self-interest that would have to be worked out. And there are enough people who will say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

    So, I don't see this happening anytime soon.

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