Image courtesy of Chicago-Fire.com.
While the Fire have often been criticized for its lack of urgency in making moves, such as not having a local television deal in place until after the 2013 season had already started, the club wasted no time filling its head coaching vacancy, signing Frank Yallop on Thursday after parting ways with former head coach Frank Klopas just a day prior. Yallop has coached since 2001, including stints with the former San Jose Earthquakes (now the Houston Dynamo) from 2001 to 2003, Canada from 2004 to 2006, the Los Angeles Galaxy from 2006 to 2007, and most recently the “new” San Jose Earthquakes from 2008 to 2013.
As a player, Yallop had experience in England with Ipswich Town and a brief stint with Blackpool, internationally with the Canadian national team, and in Major League Soccer with the now defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny. As a coach, Yallop’s final stint in San Jose was more than pedestrian, including just two playoff berths in six seasons and only one season finishing higher than sixth in the Western Conference after missing the playoffs in two straight seasons with the Galaxy. However, Yallop has led teams to two MLS Cup championships, in 2001 and in 2003 with the former Earthquakes, and led the modern Earthquakes to a Supporters’ Shield title in 2012. Despite his career winning percentage of less than forty percent, Yallop has twice been named MLS Coach of the Year, first in 2001 and most recently in 2012.
Yallop will also assume to title of Director of Soccer Operations, replacing former President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon, giving him more power in front office decisions.
Fire owner Andrew Hauptman cited his experience and his history of creating good team chemistry as being among the reasons that led to the hire. “I have an enormous amount of respect for him – I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know him over some time and I have a real confidence in his soccer acumen. I have faith in his history in building incredible team spirit with all the clubs he’s been with. He has an impressive depth of experience and that’s exactly what the club needs,” said Hauptman.
Yallop will assume leadership of a team that had the best record in the Eastern Conference after acquiring Chicago native and striker Mike Magee, but ultimately fell just a tiebreaker shy of a playoff berth after the worst start in club history (2-7-2 in club’s first eleven games) and came just one victory short of a U.S. Open Cup finals berth. The Fire remain among the most decorated teams in Major League Soccer history, champions of a MLS Cup, four U.S. Open Cups and a Supporters’ Shield, but have missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons. Chicago has missed the postseasons just four times in its sixteen season history.