CHICAGO, IL (November 3, 2011) – The Chicago Fire Soccer Club today announced the club has appointed Technical Director Frank Klopas as head coach of the Chicago Fire ahead of the 2012 MLS season. With the move, the club removes the “interim” tag from his title after Klopas guided the Fire to an 8-5-10 record and the final of the 2011 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Fire Original becomes the first former Fire player to be named head coach, and the sixth in the club history.
Klopas was introduced by Chicago Fire Soccer Club Owner Andrew Hauptman today at TOYOTA PARK. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Having served as the club’s Technical Director since January 2008, Klopas replaced Carlos de los Cobos as interim head coach on May 30 following a 1-4-6 start to the 2011 MLS season. The Fire Original eventually helped the side navigate 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.
"I believe Frank is the best person to lead our young men to achieve success on the pitch and beyond. Since we brought him back to the Fire ranks a few years ago, he has shown an incredible commitment to building the kind of club and team we strive for," said Fire Owner Andrew Hauptman. "He's a passionate and hard working coach, and he believes in our values and our philosophy and it shows. He has a special bond with our young players, and he has fostered a unique culture this year that is sure to lead the Fire to great success in the future."
“This is my team, my city, my club,” said Klopas. “I am extremely thankful to the Fire organization and our owner, Andrew Hauptman, for giving me this tremendous opportunity to lead my hometown side as we look to compete for both the MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup.”
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.