Denis Hamlett will not coach the Chicago Fire next season

24Nov09

Within the past 30 minutes the Chicago Fire issued a press release announcing the Denis Hamlett will not be retained as head coach for next season.  Frank Klopas will handle all duties until a new coach is hired.

 

This has been coming for a while now.  The Fire was loaded with veteran talent yet didn’t win a single trophy over the two years of Hamlett’s coaching tenure.  The team only appeared in one final, the fun yet lightly regarded 2009 SuperLiga tournament, which they lost in penalties to Tigres.

 

Hamlett had many flaws as a head coach, the biggest being his lack of tactical acumen.  He seemingly had players play out of position when the team was healthy (Chris Rolfe), he consistently played Cuauhtémoc Blanco in a strikers roll (instead of in Blanco’s position for El Tri behind the strikers) reducing his ability to create scoring chances for his teammates and his second half adjustments were rarely effective.  It didn’t appear as if Hamlett saw eye to eye with Klopas on player assessment either.  David Myrie a late season signing did not see any time down the stretch even though he played a position that was hit hard by injury.

 

I’m happy to see him gone from the head coaching position.  His hire was a mistake made by former President of the Fire John Guppy who was publicly rejected by at least one if not two candidates (reportedly due to poor contract offers).  Hamlett, while a loyal Fire assistant for many years, was nothing but a band-aid hire when Guppy felt he had no other options.

 

Frank Klopas and owner Andrew Hauptman need to make sure we don’t run into another temporary style hire.  They need to take a bold step and hire someone who is already recognized as an excellent tactical coach.  Expect to see most of the rumors to be focused on Tommy Soehn due to his past as a Fire player.  While I wouldn’t mind Soehn (SS and US Open Cup winner in the past three seasons) hiring a MLS retread is not the type of move to inspire confidence, even one who comes with a degree of recent success.  One other option would be Martin Vasquez, former Chivas USA and Bayern Munich assistant.  He was recently considered the front-runner for the Chivas USA job but that job appears to be Steve Sampson’s to lose at the moment.

 

I hope the team considers looking outside the league a bit to find a coach.  With Klopas handling player acquisition a good tactician as head coach could do wonders for this franchise.  This person would need to dedicate themselves to learning the ins and outs of MLS but this shouldn’t be impossible.  I’m not sure who that coach would be but the Fire appear to be uniquely structured (in MLS terms) to allow for the success of a foreign coach who isn’t exactly familiar with the league.

 

 

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