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.
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