Yallop takes the reins as Director of Soccer and Head Coach

Fire owner Andrew Hauptman introduced former San Jose Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop as the club's Director of Soccer and new head coach this morning at a press conference held downtown. Along with the newly created title, Yallop will have the final say on all player personnel decisions and will oversee the entire football operation from top to bottom. “One of the reasons I’m excited to have Frank in this role is because he’s proven the ability to identify talent and often within sort of financial parameters that have been more constrained than they have been at the Fire,” said Hauptman of the decision to grant his new hire full control on the soccer side. “Andrew obviously runs the club from his point of view but all player acquisitions will be my decision to bring into the club,” Yallop said. “Obviously working with the squad already, it’s a talented team there’s no doubt about that but everything soccer-wise, I’ll be making the last decision on those things with help from the staff.”

The willingness to change the previous structure and appoint a top man with MLS experience and impressive highlights on his resume indicates that Hauptman has accepted that his previous regime's structure didn't work. "There's lots of different models out there. Some work better than others but fundamentally it's usually about the people and the choices that they make. I think in this particular situation there's no doubt in my mind that we have someone who can straddle both sides," said Hauptman. Yallop will work on the framing of the organization on the soccer side over the next few months.

Another significant item to note was the insistence that Yallop will be given the resources to bring in high priced talent if available. "We've talked about this," said Yallop. "Andrew, over the years has put a lot of money into the players side on this club. He's not afraid to do that. That's important to know as a coach and a technical director that if the right player becomes available and we feel that it's correct for us and the club, then we'll do that."

"One of the biggest challenges here and all across MLS is having an increase in our hit rate," said Hauptman when asked about DP failures and busts in the player acquisition department. The Fire will now apparently have one man clearly responsible for decision making and player acquisition.

The freedom and authority to decide his own fate as a manager on and off the field likely tipped the tables toward Chicago with Vancouver interested in hiring him but only as a coach. "I feel that with my experience in the league and my coaching throughout the years, I've learned a lot and the player decisions that I have here will impact me on the field just like anybody else's decisions will. Yes, I'll have a team of people working in getting to the same goal but in the end the final decision on who we get into the club will be me. That's something I was looking for and that's something I was really happy about," said Yallop.

Hauptman pushed for a decision yesterday and Yallop accepted with the deal going down quickly according to both parties. Hauptman was also appreciative of the efforts made by Frank Klopas and Javier Leon. ""Once I made the decision, and I made the decision quickly, it's not something that I made based on the particular result of this year but it was more about the body of work. I felt like after six years of leadership from the team that had been in place, it was a natural time for a change. It made sense and I feel like I had been patient through that period. I feel like there had been lots of good during that period as well and I have a huge amount of respect for both Frank Klopas and Javier Leon so I didn't take that decision lightly. I think they did their best and they put their heart and soul into the club and I have nothing but gratitude towards them. I just felt like at this point in the life cycle of the club and the amount of time that they had at the helm it was time for a change."

Yallop's San Jose clubs were known for long balls over the top and whipping in crosses from the wings but he says he's not particularly set on that style of play. "I like pretty soccer too," he said. "I adjust to the players I have. I had some very good forwards in San Jose and the quicker you could get the ball to them was good. I look at the Fire's roster and it's much more set up to play. I adapt to the players. What I like to do is recover the ball back as fast as we can in the opposing half and then go from there. I just want us to make sure we're playing at a high tempo and not allowing teams to dictate what we do."

"I think the team itself, with a little tinkering is a good squad," said Yallop of the current roster. He'll have a chance to see them first hand as the team will continue to train at Toyota Park for the next several weeks.

Now that Yallop is on board he will begin developing a plan for structuring his assistants, scouts, and staff. It's possible some of the current staff will stay on board. Hauptman added that Guillermo Petrei and Rafael Carmona, "for the moment remain with the club".

With a new era underway, Hauptman chose the best candidate out of those in the pool of rumored choices currently available. That's not to say there are some questions to be answered. Yallop's resume includes 2 MLS Cup victories, 1 Supporter's Shield, and 2 Coach of the Year Awards but his second and most recent stint in San Jose featured only two playoff appearances in five plus years at the helm. The MLS Cup victories also came in 2001 and 2003, when the league was much different. Regardless, this appears to be a step in the right direction. Whether it's a big step or a small one will depend on whether or not Yallop truly has the freedom to call all the shots.


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  • I like this appointment as I was afraid of a clean out and a rebuilding year when we are a few top players away from being very good. When I looked at San Jose's draft picks over the last 3 years I began to doubt. There is no great picks among them, and in so much as I don't know most of them years later, there appears to be a lot of busts. I'm hoping this retool in mid season history is a thing of the past and we will be ready to go at the beginning of the season rather than this tendency to rent a DP for half a season approach.

  • I'm content with Yallop as well. And happy with the heads on the gate thus far. I liked Frank Klopas a lot but it had become apparent he was not effective with his strategy and use of players. I can accept that Andy has surely gone through a learning process in his "fun of ownership" process and am willing to allow him more time to see if he can show us that he's learned. I'm particularly pleased with the swiftness thus far of the actions taken. I'll confess, I certainly wasn't expecting such a quick hire, even after the swift terminations.

  • Very glad we have one person making the final decisions, even if I'm not a huge fan of the dual role. I certainly look forward to being proven wrong on the latter.

    Also glad to hear the continued chatter about spending on the right player. Here's hoping that isn't empty talk and they can make a big splash before next season.

    Finally, I'd like to throw my name into the equation for assistant director of soccer (i'll even accept associate director of soccer). For $100k a year (i'll negotiate), I'll watch all the soccer you'd like and make plenty of amazing recommendations for player acquisition. I'll even go to Rio next year on the Fire's behalf...

  • I think the Fire have done a decent job of identifying MLS talent to bring in - Magee, Larentowicz, and Duka stand out this year. Soumaré is more debatable as the team has improved since his arrival, but it coincides with Magee's which muddies the waters.

    On international transfers I don't see much to be happy about. No need to start listing the flops, they're all too familiar. So my question as someone who does not watch the West as much as the East is what is Yallop's track record on international scouting and acquisitions? Excluding Beckham, of course. And perhaps excluding LA completely since I'm not sure how much control he had with Lalas over him there. Guillermo?

  • In reply to Modibo:

    San Jose was operating on a budget so big international names weren't on their radar. They've had some recent luck with some internationals in Simon Dawkins and Victor Bernardez but it's tough to tell how much input Yallop had in bring them in since JohnDoyle is their GM of Soccer Ops.

    The stop in LA was just that....a stop. He and Lalas were not on the same page there.

  • I echo the concerns regarding the dual position however I.m willing to wait and see -- it can work with the right person. One positive is that there will be no finger-pointing when a player selection flames out. My biggest concern however is Yallop's penchant for long balls. I became a long distance Fire fan because they played what I considered to be the most entertaining, skillful style in MLS. That day is long past -- in my humble opinion. Yallop's disclaimer regarding gearing his style of play to the available skill-set of his players doesn't quell my fears since a few acquisitions of the "right" sort can quickly make this into a long-ball team. While long-ball can be a smart tactic, used infrequently, it is not on the right side of soccer history strategically. Unfortunately, the skill-set to coach a possession, short-passing, carry it out of the back style is not picked up over night so regarding how entertaining the Fire will be is definitely a "wait and see". Does anyone have a few biology geek friends who could clone Caleb Porter?

  • at this point. i will take long bombs to a good holder or quick 9. we just need to win.

  • Be careful what you wish for !! For me to drive from St Louis I need more than an ugly win and some Garret's caramel corn --- lol.
    DISCLAIMER--- not a baseball fan, but am a Packer's fan.

  • How many years did they sign Frank Yallop?

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Not sure, but I'm sure we'll find out. Hoping to have Yallop on an upcoming show, hopefully once he's settled in Chicago.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Klopas was on a 2 year deal as coach so it had to be a minimum of three to get him here.

  • This team underperformed this season. We all know that. We lacked creativity and discipline in key situations. Magee is not going to be scoring goals next season like he was this season. We need to get him on the ball more and he needs someone infront of him that can finish. He is our best player by a long shot. We need to build around him. We have good pieces in place. Another CB, a better target man, and a creative cm would help this team tremendously. We're not far off and hopefully Yallop can get more out of Juan than klopas did. It's a positive move for the club.

  • Guys I am so glad that Klopas and Leon are gone. The combination of the two no matter how much money was spent was a disaster. I own a business and If I let two guys run me into the ground the way Andy did I would be out of business. Please inform me how did Any become so rich to afford a MLS team. I cannot believe that his wonderful business practices enabled him to become an owner.
    The change to Yallop as a coach will be an improvement but honestly Yallop is not going to sell more tickets or gain more space in the desperately need newspaper/publicity business. If a new coach was named in almost any other city other than Chicago it would be news. If lets say old Andy named Wynalda and Mcbride coach ad general manger the fire would be front and center. Now the team will be in virtual limbo until the start of training camp.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    Naming Wynalda and McBride coach and GM would have gotten some headlines, and Wynalda would have certainly been an entertaining hire but I suspect we'd be here next year looking at wreckage bigger than the Titanic.

    Winning will draw attention. That's the best way to mainstream headlines.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Wynalda and McBride...why not Wynalda and Harkes?

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Pretty sure we won't see that combination any time soon....any where.

  • New podcast is up with the Daily Herald's Orrin Schwarz chiming in on what's next for the Fire including coaches, players, and the Academy.


    Note: Correction regarding Pineda's status. His initial contract was a Homegrown deal and not GA.

  • Guys why does the fire always look for someone else's guys that were fired or got too old and expect different results. I closely watched Yallops games as I enjoy some of his players. At the end of his career he looked like a deer in headlights. I will admitt he is a ton better than klopas but honestly Klopas had never coached an out door game in his life before the fire. Why didn't old Andy look in the college ranks for a guy like porter. These head college coaches are smart and know how to handle the most important supply of players available mainly college guys. This could be a long two years hopefully Andy gets tired of the game and sells out.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    I think it's actually to AH's credit in this case that he didn't go after a guy w/ no MLS experience or a college coach. Sitting in the press conference, the one thing that seemed clear to me was that Andrew was unsatisfied w/ the last 6 years from his tech staff, thus going in a decidedly different direction.

    Imagine the blowback had he gone w/ a college coach that DIDN'T perform as Porter has for the Timbers. Hindsight is 20/20, but let's face it, Porter was untested in MLS, and know one *really* knew how it was going to pan out 10 months ago.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Totally agree. He needed to find someone familiar with how MLS works....particularly for the Director of Soccer role.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    And of course, I mean "no one," not "know one." But yeah...

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Not all college coaches work out... Look at Schellas Hyndman. I realize that a lot of American or American-based coaches come up through the college ranks, but there are other models out there - Martin Rennie is a good example. Granted he didn't achieve success at Vancouver, and I don't know the full story there, but he moved up divisions in the US, first in the PDL with the Cascade Surge, then with the Cleveland City Stars in the USL's second division (where he nurtured Adam Moffat and others) before moving on to the Carolina RailHawks, then Vancouver.

    Whatever you say about him, he has a sense of another important talent pool in the US that the Fire has not been successful in tapping, in my opinion. Why do we have to just go college, MLS, or overseas?

    Again, I don't pretend to know Yallop's record in recruiting from the USL/NASL but just because Caleb Porter worked out doesn't mean other college coaches will. Besides, as some people pointed out when Porter's hire was being debated, college soccer coaches have a lot more job security than in MLS and in soccer the administrations and fanbases are generally more forgiving.

  • Not unexpected......the house cleaning continues with the release of Mike Matkovich, Leo Percovich, Aron Hyde, and Rafael Carmona.


    Matkovich is still Director of Scouting for Chicago Fire Juniors South.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I would have promoted MM.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    To head coach?

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Sparky better be sure he's pooping outside and not doing any buttslides up and down the TP office carpets.

  • For example, look at how well the Dallas coach did over the last six years. Not great. Which can be said for most coaches, just like it can be said for most players. It takes a lot of intangibles to be able to pick a guy who is going to figure out how to coach in this league AND negotiate the intricacies of the salary cap and the acquisition process in MLS. With Yallop, he knows all that, and with a hopefully bigger budget than he had in SJ, he'll hopefully be able to do more.

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    One consideration, Yallop won two titles when salary wiggle room across the league was a lot smaller. The salary cap was in the ballpark of 1.9 Mil, with no DP spending, much smaller and tighter allocation cash, etc. Player spending was much more of a level playing field. On the flip side, there were only seven other teams to get past for a title. Still, if AH gives him more dosh to work with then he has had in SJ, then Frank will not be work working at a structural disadvantage.
    Hopefully AH will be game to spend whatever is necessary for Frank to bring in staff to get done what needs to get done.
    (Day dreaming of CJ being brought in from RSL, with a fair amount of coaching experience now, to instill the proper attytude into the side)

  • In reply to Stephen McCormick:

    That would make a lot of people happy and may not be as improbable as it seemed a year or two ago.

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