Fire notebook - coaching search update, the Wolf, and more

The Fire's 2015 season ended last week but the work is just starting for new GM Nelson Rodriguez. The first order of business is obviously deciding on who will be the next head coach. Rodriguez has indicated that he'd ideally like to have someone in place before Thanksgiving and that two of the characteristics he was looking for included familiarity with MLS and a connection to youth development.

That would seem to indicate that at least two of the known candidates interviewed so far fit the bill. US U-20 coach Tab Ramos and current Fire Academy Director Larry Sunderland seemingly fall into those categories, although Ramos hasn't worked directly on the MLS side after his playing days ended. Others including Mike Petke, Brian Bliss, and Chris Armas are also viable with varying levels of experience in coaching on the professional and youth levels. Rodriguez apparently has locked in an extensive travel schedule as the search continues this week.

Former US international Brad Friedel has expressed interest but his lack of coaching experience would seem to make him a long shot. Another US goalkeeper with little coaching background is on the list, and he also happens to be employed in media currently. Former MetroStars, Kansas City Wizards, and Red Bulls star Tony Meola is a candidate. He now hosts a radio show on SiriusXM.

One name that should be crossed off the list is Miguel Herrera, who used a bit of savvy to publicly express interest in just about any coaching vacancy in the world if the offer was right. 'El Piojo' said he wouldn't turn down interest from Chicago last month and that set off a mini frenzy among fans and some media outlets. The move was nothing more than a clever way to drive up interest from teams in Mexico as potential suitors. It also seems Rodriguez did some exploratory work as a result of those comments but Herrera now has officially been announced as the manager for Tijuana in Liga MX next season.

Talk of a move for Jason Kreis is sure to continue now that New York City FC has parted ways with him and his coaching staff. According to sources, Kreis is currently not on the Fire's list of potential interviewees. He is apparently headed to Toronto FC, where former RSL President Bill Manning is now in charge. It's a good bet that CJ Brown will follow him there.

This is the start of Rodriguez's third official week on the job and indications are that he's still interviewing candidates and cultivating the list. It would be very surprising if the eventual coach didn't have MLS experience at some level.

More than one source feels that Ramos is in the lead at moment but nothing has been decided yet.

The Wolf

Following his introduction before the last home game, Rodriguez shared some thoughts on his time at Chivas USA and how it prepared him for what he called his dream job in Chicago and an opportunity to take over an MLS team with an actual future. Some have compared his role at Chivas and his arrival in Chicago to that of Pulp Fiction's clean up man Winston Wolf. His last MLS job wasn't an easy one.

"It was far tougher than I imagined when I took it and as I got into it," Rodriguez told Fire Confidential. "What I am proud of is that I think we closed that chapter in Major League Soccer with dignity. What I'm proud of is the players and the technical staff of that group competed all the time and managed to block out the distractions and the obvious questions of - 'Do I have a job', to continue to do well. The fact that we finished in a higher place in the standings is a credit to all of those people. If they felt that I supported that in any way, then I'm flattered. What Chivas gave me was a chance to pressure test some of my management and leadership philosophies. I was very involved in players decisions there and I tried to be very supportive of the head coach, understanding that he was under incredible, difficult circumstances with a one year contract."

Others have noted the Fire's place in the standings and made the assumption that Rodriguez may have been placed in Chicago by the league to oversee the operation and clean up the mess in the back seat, so to speak. That is apparently not the case. Rodriguez says the deal came together fairy quickly once serious discussions began.

"I think this opportunity came up, at least from my perspective, rather innocently and then it went very quickly. Andrew and I, in the past have spoken, especially when I was at the league office and he just had a couple of questions for me. I answered those questions. They begat bigger conversations and all of a sudden it got pretty involved and pretty detailed and he said - 'Would you be interested?" At that point I needed to talk to US Soccer and he needed to talk to US Soccer. Once they said it was okay it moved very quickly at that point. I shared my philosophy and a skeleton of my plan and he obviously liked it and bought into it and we moved forward."

As for being the soccer version of Winston Wolf?

"I hope that time will tell that I was like Mr. Wolf. We'll see what history says," he said with a grin.

Fondy MVP

Former Fire and Chivas USA forward Matt Fondy has been named Most Valuable Player of the 2015 USL season. Fondy scored 22 goals during the regular season for Louisville City FC.

Take that as you will regarding the level of play in USL.

S8 Player of the year

David Accam has not only won the voting for the team's MVP but he's been named as the Supporter's choice for Player of the Year. The award will be presented during the ISA's board meeting on November 4 at The Atlantic Bar and Grill at 7PM.

Update 11/3: Manning told Toronto press today that he spoke to Kreis last night and considered bringing him in but is sticking with coach Greg Vanney for the time being. That opens up more speculation on Kreis' future destination and that of his coaching staff. Should Kreis decide to wait on the TFC job, it could add CJ Brown's name to the Fire's list of potential candidates.

Filed under: 2015 Post season

Tags: Chicago Fire

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  • Brad Friedel is an intriguing prospect. Unlike some other retired stars, he takes coaching seriously, sees that at his future, and has been pursuing coaching licenses in England. However, I don't think he understands MLS 3.0 or whatever version we're in right now. Plus, as much as I'd like to see a fellow west side Cleveland guy take the reins of the Fire, I don't think I'd be able take that accent in press conferences.

    I'm hoping Seattle flames out, Sigi is cut, and we can pick him up. Long shot, maybe, but I think he'd be our best bet to right the ship after the leadership has allowed us not only to flounder but to hit the rocks big time.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Sigi has proven himself a great coach, but I don't want yet another Seattle castoff. I can't think of when the move from there to here was ever beneficial to the Fire.

  • Herrera is no longer an option. ESPN reports he has been hired by Tijuana.

  • In reply to jrpaine:

    Yes. The story says that. Xolos announced last night.

  • If Jason Kreis isn't on the radar that's a problem! He's a proven winner and understands the quirks of MLS. He would bring along CJ who is a Fire Original who lives Tradition, Honor and Passion.

  • In reply to kaca:

    It sounds like Kreis is headed for Toronto because there's an RSL connection. But, absolutely, the Fire should do all they can to get him to Bridgeview. The soccer gods owe us a couple and now's time to cash in. Sigi has shown he can win but something about getting another Seattle retread just kills my mojo on that one. Petke seems a decent second choice.

  • In reply to kaca:

    I wouldn't say that he's not on the radar, but i don't think it's likely that they get into a bidding war with MLSE. Most folks I've talked to feel that Kreis will end up at TFC although nothing is set in stone yet.

  • fb_avatar

    I believe an European Couch will fit the Fire interest, but how much a MLS experience couch can give a turn over the last past 5 years

  • In reply to Junior Espinoza:

    I'm not a fan of the Euro coach approach in MLS. They just need to find the right domestically experienced coach.

    Easy, right?

    ;)

  • In reply to Junior Espinoza:

    I think European couches are too soft... :-)

    Sorry. I couldn't resist.

  • I hear Fabio Capello might be interested in MLS...

  • In reply to mwaech1:

    Zero chance Capello ends up here.

  • The success of Fondy is proof that FY has an eye for talent. As far as translating that to on-field success...let's not go there.

    /half sarc

  • TFC president Bill Manning tells media today that he spoke to Jason Kreis yesterday and considered bringing him in but has decided to keep Greg Vanney for now.

    Feel free to continue speculation on Kreis, although I wouldn't put odds on him landing in Chicago.

  • Sorry people, I think we should approach this the Galacticos way. I would rather sign huge DPs, run up the costs, challenge the MLS payment structure, win or fail, at least we would finally be going all out again. Don't we all live in Chicago? Isn't Chicago a big market?

  • In reply to waamsy:

    Yes Chicago is a big market, its too bad we have a small market owner.

  • The thing Rodriguez said that I liked very much was that he wants a coach that has proven success of developing young players. The key to success for the Fire is to be able to develop our draft picks. I truly believe that Yallop actually hurt the development of Shipp. He would have hurt Polster as well in the long run. The next coach needs to be able to work with young players because to be succesfull in MLS a team needs to be able to rely on its young players.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    We do not have the life expectancy of California Redwoods. Enough of long term plans with youth etc. MLS teams can flip from worst to best in a season. I want something to cheer for next year. 5 years of dross is enough.

  • dol·drums:

    :a state or period in which there is no activity or improvement

    :Also known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are calm.

    Use it in a sentence: Until there is a new coach and roster turnover, I definitely feel like we are sitting listlessly among the doldrums.

  • Matt Polster has been named as a finalist for the Rookie of the Year award.

    Cyle Larin and Fatai Alashe are the other two nominees.

    Unlike last year when Shipp should have won it, this one is no contest. Larin will win it easily.

  • Hate to be a downer here but if 30 some candidates are to be interviewed I strongly believe when the coach is announced we will all be scratching our heads and performing an Internet search to figure out who the hell he is, just like we have to do for our DPs.

    Going out and hiring a proven winner is not in the make up of the organization any more.

    I hope I am wrong but I will have to see change to believe it.

  • I recall from 2013 that the coach from...it was either IU or Kentucky?was mentioned as a possible candidate before the FY was announcement. IU I think.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    So I wonder if that guy is on the map.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    I have not heard the names of any college coaches mentioned. That doesn't mean he's not looking at any though.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    I assume you're talking about Todd Yeagley from IU. He's the son of the legendary Jerry Yeagley. He also played a few years in MLS.

    As a proud Hoosier, I take real offense at being confused with that school down south! :)

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