CHICAGO, Ill. (Wednesday, December 11, 2013) – The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced Wednesday that C.J. Brown has been named an assistant coach. Brown returns to Chicago after three seasons serving as an assistant coach with Real Salt Lake.
“I have tremendous respect for C.J. Brown as a player, having coached against him and those tough Fire teams for so many years,” said Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop. “Watching him grow from one of the top defenders in MLS history to helping guide RSL with their tremendous recent success speaks volumes of his coaching style, character and connection with the guys in the locker room. C.J. is the perfect choice not only for all his qualities as a coach, but also for what he means to this city and Club, and what they mean to him as well.”
Brown began his coaching career with Real Salt Lake prior to the start of the 2011 season. In three seasons, Real Salt Lake compiled an overall 48-32-22 regular season record and reached the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and 2013 MLS Cup finals. The Utah side also finished runners-up in the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League.
"The Fire has always had a very special place in my heart,” said Brown. "When the Club reached out to me I was excited about the possibility of rejoining the organization. I've gained valuable experience with RSL and now, to come home and be a part of Frank's team, it's really a dream come true.”
A product of San Jose State University, Brown was selected first overall by the Fire in the 1998 MLS Supplemental Draft and made an immediate impact, appearing in 17 games during the club’s inaugural season while helping the Fire to the domestic “double” winning that year’s MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup titles. During his 13-year playing career with the Men in Red, Brown also captured three additional U.S. Open Cup championships in 2000, 2003 and 2006 as well as the 2003 MLS Supporters Shield.
Brown is currently the Fire’s all-time leader in competitive appearances (372), starts (364) and minutes (32,568). On May 9, 2012, Brown was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame, known as the Ring of Fire.
The Hayward, CA product began his soccer career with the San Francisco Bay Seals in the USISL D-3 Pro League from 1994 to 1997, where he appeared in 47 matches, helping the lower-league Seals to the semifinals of the 1997 U.S. Open Cup before getting picked by the Fire the following year.
Brown’s consistent performance with the Fire led him to 15 caps with the U.S. Men’s National team, making his debut against Australia on November 6, 1998 during a friendly match. He also appeared in the U.S.’s third-place finish at the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup.