Yallop out - What changes this time around?

After less than two full seasons at the helm, Frank Yallop is out as Head Coach and Director of Soccer. The Fire have parted ways with Yallop and assistants Clint Mathis and Marc Bircham. Technical Director Brian Bliss and Vice President Logan Pause have been handed the first team reins for the last five games of the season as interim replacements.

After last night’s 1-0 loss to Orlando City, the dismissal of Yallop is not a surprise but the biggest news to come out of the announcement is the naming of MLS veteran executive Nelson Rodriguez as General Manager. Rodriguez is well respected around league circles and is the man MLS put in charge of Chivas USA in their final year of existence. Rodriguez won’t join the Fire until October 19 after leaving his position as Managing Director of National Team Advisory Services for US Soccer. In that newly created role, he advised youth players on all facets of becoming professionals.

It would seem that the league had some input on who to bring in given the difficulty Andrew Hauptman has encountered in finding personnel who can be successful over the last six seasons but that is not necessarily the case. Rodriguez’s appointment could have come as more of a suggestion than a mandate. As General Manager he will lead the search for a new head coach as well as oversee the soccer side of the business including the technical staff, scouting, player personnel, player development, and the Academy system. Bliss will remain as Technical Director during the transition.

Bliss has served as an interim coach before. He took over for Robert Warzycha at the end of the 2013 season and compiled a 4-4-0 record in the process.

Rodriguez seems to be a good hire but it remains to be seen if he will be given full authority to conduct operation without interference at some point. While his resume indicates that he’s qualified for the position, the organization still needs a strong voice willing to stand up for what’s best for the club in all matters. Whether or not that voice will come in the form of an actual team president and not just a general manager remains to be seen.

Yallop isn’t fully responsible for the current state of affairs but he did select, train, and manage this team to an all-time low. With results being the ultimate measure for a coach, the writing was on the wall, and Hauptman had to make a move. Rodriguez is a good start but but right now it’s exactly that.

Another re-start.

Fire Confidential Live

We discuss the changes, what could lie ahead, and field a wide range of questions from listeners in the latest podcast.

Filed under: 2015 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • A number of people have raised similar questions.

    Who exactly is it that Rodriguez will need to be able to stand up to? Has there been meddling on the soccer side? If so, by who? AK? Hauptman?

    I am confused as to Hauptman's role. Some of his critics charge him with being an absentee owner who cares little about the club, while others accuse him of meddling to the detriment of the product on the field. Any insights as to the reality?

  • In reply to Charles Jogues:

    The folks who characterize him as an absentee owner are incorrect. That stems from the mistaken belief that he doesn't attend games because he lives in LA or that he doesn't care. He does attend although it's not every game and he definitely does care but indications are that he can't help himself from getting unnecessarily involved in just about every aspect of the club, thereby making him the defacto president.

    Will Rodriguez be the guy that tells AH publishing an editorial castigating your fans is a horrible idea and he can't do it? Or the guy that tells him that he needs to make a move for a big money player to actually reinvigorate the market? Or the guy that tells him that hiring multiple PR firms to spin damage control is a waste of time and money? Or the guy that tells him it's time to field a full USL side in step with the where the league is headed? Or the guy that tells him he needs to speak directly to supporters in person rather than through canned statements when big decisions like firing coaches is made and he hired that coach?

    To his credit, I don't believe there was much interference in the last year when it comes to player decisions. Yallop was given those responsibilities with a budget in mind, and that didn't work. Now he's trying another approach with a GM in place.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Good info. Thanks.

  • I dont know anything about this guy that we hired. What I do know is that he can't be worse than where we are right now. This team is in shambles right now and last night was rock bottom. There is only one way this team can go. Now we just need to find a coach, 3 cb's, 2 rb's, a few cm's, and a couple of strikers that can actually score a goal. Once we get all of those, we're golden.

    This is the happiest I have been in two years.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    TWO rbs!!


    Tbt, I came here for your reaction, Rubberbandman, haha.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    I sat in my chair and threw my hands up in the air in pure excitement. Then went to YouTube and played "Ding dong the witch is dead" as loud as I could.

    This move is the best thing to happen to this club in 2 years. Yallop was a miserable manager and left this club worse than when he took over. We are already in better shape because he is gone.

  • Is it possible that mls told ah the jig us up? In other words did mls send Rodriguez in to assess whether the organization is salvageable and worth selling or whether it is time to reconstitute the team with a total shut down like LAFC?

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I don't believe that's the case. We discuss in the latest podcast episode coming later tonight.

  • Orrin Schwarz comes strong again in the Daily Herald.....


  • Show is up for those so inclined. Please do us a favor and click through this link to subscribe to our new home for the show. Depending on our recording schedule, this may be the last one on the original podcast server.


  • In addition to improving the on-field product, the other mandate for Rodriguez and his staff is to make the team relevant within the crowded Chicago media market. The ONLY mention of the game at all in Sunday's tribune was the scoreline in the agate type. There was a full page spread on the front page of the Sports section about how Chicago is this big sports town and illustrated it with a Google Maps image of Lake Michigan and all the sporting events taking place this weekend. They mentioned the triathalon and Hawks training camp in S. Bend. But they couldn't locate Bridgeview on the map.

  • I feel like some people didn't realize that Yallop was also the Director of Soccer as well as head coach. It seems he had total reigns over all things on field related. From picking the players to training them.

    I welcome insight on what some of the issues were that held him back from succeeding? (not snarky I promise, just really curious) Sure, off the field stuff is out of his control. But tactics, players, morale, confidence, etc should have been things he could control.

  • In reply to KChance:

    and by some people I obv dont mean the people who do know that lol. I had a few exchanges with people on twitter who didnt realize Bliss was under Yallop.

  • In reply to KChance:

    I have no great insight, but just based on what I saw, I'd guess the following.

    Player's liked Yallop as a person, but weren't motivated to perform under him. The team often came out flat in "big games," which leads me to believe that the preparation was lacking.

    Yallop's biggest tactical failing was the inability to protect a lead and the inability to recognize and correct a faulty backline.

    He (or Bliss) did a decent job getting talent onto the field, but then was unable to tactically utilize it (I'm speaking here mostly on midfield and forwards. I think most people would agree that Accam was a good pickup, and honestly Igboananike has been playing up to snuff as of late, mostly with the addition of Gilberto. None of those guys were awful signings, but they haven't had enough opportunity to play meaningfully together. Add the misuse of Shipp and Polster as well as the abandonment of Stephens for a decent stretch of the season made for a team that performed worse than IMO they should have).

    Also, he one 2 freaking games on the road in two years. That's ridiculously bad.

  • In reply to TomazPP:


  • In reply to TomazPP:

    I agree. I think the talent Yallop and Bliss have acquired recently is more then enough to compete in MLS. The issues seem to be totally tactical and motivational. Something to be said for the managers that get the most out of their players and put them in the best position to succeed. Safe to say Yallop failed in that category.

  • In reply to KChance:

    That said, can we get a redo of the USOC semi-final? I worry that getting to a semi- for a forth year in a row may be pushing our luck.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    100% Agree with all of this.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    Iggy is a DP signing that has only scored 7 goals from 64 shots this season. I wouldnt say that he is a good signing. I think you are giving Yallop too much credit when you say that he got talent onto the field. Of the million signings he made, only Jones, Polster, Shipp, and Accam should be starting next season if we want to be any good. The rest of his players (Watson, Stephens, Cocis, Palmer, Gehrig, Harden, Cyrus, Ritter, J. Johnson, Iggy, Gilberto) are just MLS journey men. I think he did a miserable job at gathering talent but he is gone, thankfully.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I think you are judging Stephens too harshly personally. And possibly Gilberto (who has been pretty solid in the limited minutes). Some of the other guys are roster fodder too, especially J. Johnson (who IMO is an improvement over Alex, despite being fairly worthless overall).

    Re: Igbo- "Not awful" isn't necessarily "good". 7 goals (9 in all competitions) and 3 assists (4 in all competitions) in 1712 minutes are not awful numbers. That's a similar amount of goals to what Sherjill Macdonald, Nery Castillo, Puppo and Anangono had COMBINED. They are also just about exactly the numbers of an "average" Chris Rolfe Fire season (6.8 goals, 3.1 assists, 1820 minutes). Overpaid, yes, but bad? I wouldn't say so.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    Remember, too, that he's just gotten comfortable. Since 8/16, in 601 minutes of play, he's scored 5 goals and 2 assists off of 25 shots, 9 of which were on goal.

    Say we prorate that to the 1800 minute season that Rolfe averaged - that's 15 goals, 6 assists, 75 shots, 27 of which on goal.

    Of course, could be he's streaky, but I'm willing to bet his late season form is closer to the norm that what we saw in the beginning of the year.

  • In reply to KChance:

    I think there are a # of things that derailed Yallop's reign. First off, I always thought it was a terrible idea to have him as the coach and the TD. I generally believe it's a bad plan. There's more than enough work for a f-t coach and a f-t TD to do their jobs effectively, and they also can be a bit conflicting. All in all, it's 2 different jobs...so hire two different people!

    Second, he inherited a bad roster and made a series of bad moves in his first offseason. His main moves with a tight cap was to revamp the back line and his moves were a total failure. That left him with a terrible roster to overhaul, yet again.

    Third, this season he put almost all of his eggs in the forward/attacking group and didn't give the defense nearly enough attention. All of us were complaining and wondering during the offseason why he paid the D hardly any attention. Sitting here today, yet again we are justified in our inquiries and questions.

    Next, he was finally given the financial resources and/or thumbs up to go ahead and sign 3 DP's at the beginning of the season, rather than the typical "mid season panic plan". Accam seems like a keeper, but he was injured and called up to int'l duty far too much to make a big enough impact alone. Igby has obviously only recently made an impact, and Maloney was never more than solid. It's just not good enough given the lack of quality that was already existing, his numerous mistakes, signing Maloney when they already had Shipp, and leaving the D severely lacking.

    Finally, Yallop's tactics and line-up choices were often easily questionable. He made way too many errors in both signings and on field decisions to last. Who knows if focusing on one area would have made a difference, but he didn't appear to have a solid understanding of either during his time at the Fire.

    I will say I hate to see a seemingly good guy and his team get fired. But it was the right move and we can only hope this is the beginning of a brighter future for the Fire.

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    That pretty much sums it up.

  • Guys getting rid of Yallop is the best move made by the team in almost two years. He was just awful. One picture I have of him in my mind was when jose luis Took a bad penalty shot. Yallop apparently had not told lowenwitz that it was his job. He looked completely lost.

  • I think one very good part of hiring Ridriguez is that IF (I know this is not official) that he gets in and starts looking under the hood to find that ownership and the "top notch" front office of Kosta is truly dysfunctional, he has contacts in the league and US Soccer to let it be known that ownership needs to be replaced. I have been a long believer that Hauptman has been a huge factor in the Fire's decline. I liked Orion Schwarz's that Denis Hamlett's tenure as coach was the best under Hauptman. He was run out of town because he thought Soumare was a numskull defender. I think Hamlett's assessment was correct and his performance as coach would be preferred over every coach since.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Osorio was pretty darn effective (the bastard).

  • Podcast:

    I get your point regarding the relationship and atmosphere that Peter Wilt established, but to say that he spoiled us by establishing a "club atmosphere" from the get-go is like saying that having a healthy relationship with your mother, father and siblings is too much to ask for. He did it right and that's why people liked it and miss it. In this new era of ours, we may not reach a relationship as cozy as it was with Peter, but we do need to have that rapport and interaction that's been missing for so many of these recent years.

    Perhaps that team President thing you mentioned might be a good start. =)

    As far as our jersey sponsor, I have to chuckle, because I think I know who it is and I'm not totally surprised, given the relationships. In any case, I'm curious to see the new jerseys.

    I wouldn't mind an all-Sting podcast.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Chicago Sting Confidential?

  • Updated MLSPU salary numbers are out.....


  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Marco Pappa not making much more than the league minimum in Seattle is interesting.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Pappa is making substantially more than what MLSPU lists him at. I'm not sure why or how he's still shown at $75K.

    Just another reason why this list should only be used as a guide and it's almost impossible to get to the true cap/budget numbers.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    MLS data are not totally accurate?!? Well, that's a first!

  • The Fire have announced that Sean Johnson and Eric Gehrig are out for the remainder of the season due to injuries.

    Johnson has a labral tear in his shoulder and Gehrig has a stress fracture in his foot.

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