In his first full season as head coach, Frank Klopas led the Men in Red to a 17-11-6 regular season record and fourth place in the Eastern Conference in 2012. The 57 points the team earned is tied with the 2000 season for the highest point total in club history. The 17-win season was the club’s best finish since 2000.
Having served as the club’s Technical Director since January 2008, Klopas was appointed interim head coach on May 30, 2011 and led the Fire to a MLS-record sixth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final, en route to an impressive 7-2-1 league finish, the second best end of season record in the club’s 14-year history.
Klopas was officially named the Fire’s head coach in November 2011 and transformed the squad into a team that qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs for the 12th time in the club’s 15-year history.
A Chicago soccer icon, Klopas emigrated with his family from Prosimna, Greece to the Windy City at eight-years-old and would go on to lead Mather High School to the Chicago Public School league championship in 1982. Soon after, “Kid Klopas” signed with the Chicago Sting straight out of high school and would go on to appear in 140 games, tallying 62 goals in Major Indoor Soccer League play from 1983-1988.
Having earned his first cap with the U.S. Men’s National Team in 1987, Klopas represented the United States at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea before returning to his birth country to play for AEK Athens that fall. Klopas would go on to tally 46 appearances and six goals from 1988-92, as the club garnered two Greek Super League titles (1989, 1992) and the Greek League Cup in 1990.
In 1992, Klopas signed with the United States Soccer Federation, electing to play full-time with the U.S. Men’s National Team as the country prepared to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Klopas would eventually be named to the U.S. roster for the tournament but did not see any playing time as the United States advanced to the knockout round for the first time since 1930.
Following the tournament, Klopas returned to Greece to sign with Apollon Athens, playing 10 matches for the club from 1994-96. He would also play for the U.S. Men’s National Team in the 1995 Copa America in Uruguay, scoring in the side’s famous 3-0 upset of Argentina en route to a fourth place finish in the tournament. Having signed with Major League Soccer ahead of the league’s launch, Klopas was allocated to the Kansas City Wiz in 1996, appearing in 54 matches and scoring seven goals over two seasons with the club.
With the announcement of Chicago as an MLS expansion city to begin the 1998 season, Klopas would return to his hometown via trade to close out his playing career in the Windy City. The hometown hero would go on to lead the expansion Chicago Fire to the “American Double” helping the club to the 1998 MLS Cup in a 2-0 win over D.C. United before scoring the “Golden Goal” days later in a 2-1 extra time victory over the Columbus Crew in that year’s U.S. Open Cup final. Playing one more year with the Fire, Klopas announced his retirement following the 1999 season, having tallied 50 appearances and eight goals for the club across all competitions.
The striker would join Bob Bradley’s coaching staff the following year, working as the club’s Strength and Conditioning Coach during the 2000 season. Klopas spent two seasons as head coach of the MISL’s Chicago Storm from 2004-06 before eventually returning to the Fire as the club’s Technical Director in January 2008.