This has been a rough season for the Chicago Fire and the year appears to be closing with more bad news. The Daily Herald reported this morning that lead assistant CJ Brown is leaving the club to accept a coaching position with expansion team New York City FC. Brown, a 2012 Ring of Fire inductee is immensely popular among the Fire's fan base and this news is certain not to go over well. Per a statement issued by the club, Frank Yallop addressed the departure by saying that efforts were made to retain Brown. “It’s disappointing to lose C.J. from our coaching staff, as we made every attempt to ensure he would remain with the Club long-term,” said Yallop. He also alluded to Brown's relationship with NYCFC boss and former Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis, who added him to RSL's coaching staff after his retirement as a player in 2010.
Brown also addressed the move in a press release issued by NYCFC by stating that his desire to help build the expansion club from scratch while working with a staff that he is very familiar with was a motivating factor behind the switch. “I see this as a rare opportunity to be part of building a club from the ground up,” Brown told NYCFC.com. “It's an experience and challenge that most coaches don't get during their career, particularly not at a project as exciting as this one. There is so much potential at this club, it’s a blank slate at the moment but we could do something very special for soccer in this country."
“Leaving Chicago Fire is very difficult,” said Brown. “This will be my second time leaving a club that has been a major influence on my life. I have a good relationship with everyone at the Club and I truly appreciate all of the Chicago fans, they welcomed me back and it's always been fun. But having an opportunity like this, to work with one of my former coaches and play a part in creating history here, is something very special.”
Brown's departure leaves Clint Mathis, goalkeeper coach Aron Hyde, and trainer Tony Jouaux on Yallop's full time staff. There is no word yet on who might replace Brown although Brian McBride served as a part time coach last season and the newly retired Logan Pause begins his post-playing days today as the Club's Vice President.
Brown served as an assistant coach under Kreis at RSL from 2011 through 2013 before joining Yallop's staff last December as Kreis was headed to New York. Less than a year after returning to Chicago, Brown is on the move again.
2014 has been rough.