Changes Underway for the Chicago Fire

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It’s the end of the Yallop era in Chicago.

The Chicago Fire announced on Sunday afternoon that they have parted ways with Frank Yallop as head coach of the MLS club, in addition to assistant coaches Marc Bircham and Clint Mathis. The announcement came on the heels of the Fire’s 1-0 home loss to Orlando City SC, a result that gave Chicago their most single-season losses in club history, and extended their current winless streak to four games. The Fire are now 7-16-6 with 27 points, sitting last in the league with five games remaining. Goalkeeper Coach Aron Hyde will remain with the club.

Changes Underway for the Chicago Fire

The Fire have also announced the hiring of former MLS veteran Nelson Rodriguez as General Manager, who will join the club on October 19th. The coaching changes will take effect immediately.

Yallop, a former two-time MLS Cup winner (2001, 2003) and Supporters Shield winner (2012) with San Jose Earthquakes, was hired on October 31, 2013 to replace former Fire player and head coach Frank Klopas. Yallop, who had been let go earlier in the season by San Jose, came to Chicago with the title of Head Coach as well as Director of Soccer, giving him direct say in all player personnel decisions, a role Frank Klopas did not have as Head Coach. He, along with Technical Director Brian Bliss, are responsible for the current Fire roster, save four players: Sean Johnson, Mike Magee, Patrick Nyarko, and Jeff Larentowicz.

In his time with the Fire, Yallop amassed a record of 13 wins, 26 losses, and 24 draws, averaging 1.00 points per game, worst of any coach in the Fire’s history, dating back to 1998. Conversely Frank Klopas, whom Yallop was hired to replace, averaged 1.54 points per game while in Chicago, second only to inaugural head coach Bob Bradley (1.66 ppg).

The Fire have named Technical Director Brian Bliss as interim head coach for the duration of the 2015 season, along with Logan Pause as interim assistant coach. Numerous names have been mentioned as a possible permanent replacement for Yallop, including USMNT U-20 head coach Tab Ramos, and former USMNT star and current Fox Sports analyst Eric Wynalda. The Fire are in the midst of missing the MLS Playoffs for the fifth time in six years, a trend that has caused widespread turmoil among the fan base, evidenced by recent supporter protests at Fire home games, and the #BlackoutCF97 and #SaveCF97 hashtags across social media.

Brian Bliss, who came to Chicago from Columbus Crew SC after serving as Technical Director there, is no stranger to wearing the interim tag. While in Columbus, Bliss took the reins after the club cut ties with then-head coach Robert Warzycha. The following season Columbus brought in former LA Galaxy defender and Hammarby IF coach Gregg Berhalter, and Bliss accepted the position of Technical Director with the Fire.

Logan Pause, a former Chicago Fire midfielder who spent 12 seasons with the Fire, retired as a player at the end of the 2014 season. He was immediately hired on the front office side as the club’s Vice President, where he has spent the bulk of the last year working directly with the Chicago Fire Academy.

With five games left in the season, the move appears to be one of many possible as the off-season approaches in Chicago. In addition to Yallop’s departure, it seems apparent that moves in the front office are possible as well. This news, in addition to a new jersey sponsor and new home jersey in 2016 are making the off-season one to watch in Chicago. Stay tuned.

Main Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images