Byron Hartel with Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas

CFJ Louisiana Update

Back in April I wrote about the coming together of three of New Orleans largest youth clubs under the Chicago Fire Juniors banner.  With Hurricane Katrina serving as a catalyst, Lafreniere Soccer Club, the Carrollton Soccer Association and Lakeview Soccer Clubs united together to form the Chicago Fire Juniors-Louisiana.

With 3,000 kids now part of CJF-Louisiana, the club is the largest Fire Juniors club out of the nine satellite programs strewn throughout the United States.

Recently a delegation led by Chicago Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas and Director of Player Development John Dorn went down to New Orleans to check in on the progress made ahead of the club’s first season together.

“Our recent visit to check in on CFJ-Louisiana last month was multi-faceted,” said Director of Player Development John Dorn. “Having Frank come down with us was a big part of the visit, as we wanted him there to build the connection in relationships between their leadership and ours here in Chicago.”

Klopas was positive about his trip to visit CFJ both from meeting those heading up the club as well as reinforcing the coaching and scouting techniques the Fire have implemented with other satellite clubs.

“It was a good opportunity for us to see the facilities they have and to get to know the board members and coaches that are involved as well as go through the curriculum that we want them to follow.”

While there Fire Player Development Manager Brian Roberts and Coordinator Mark Spooner led the club’s higher-ups through a strength based coaching certification class and are planning to return next week to do the same with 60 of the club’s staff coaches.

“We’re going to define success on the field,” said Roberts. “The biggest thing for both sides is that we’re getting that true connection to them and they’re getting more connected with us now that they’ve completed their merger. They have a few months together under their belt and now we’re expecting big things from them.”

Klopas echoed the sentiment, seeing the partnership as more than just developing talent for the future.

“It’s a club with 3,000 kids and now it’s a Chicago Fire club – so we’re casting a bigger net with the idea that you’re able to discover kids that may one day play for the first team. If that happens that’s great, if not we’re still giving every kid an opportunity to play and enjoy soccer – one day when they get older, whether they fulfill their dreams of playing or just love the sport, they can give back as coaches and hopefully become an extension of our fan base outside of Chicago.”

The Fire Technical Director also didn’t rule out the possibility of the first team making a preseason stop to visit their biggest CFJ club.

“Louisiana is a warm-weather place with good facilities and so it’d be an ideal spot for us to spend time in preseason.  In both Mississippi and Louisiana you have kids out there wearing Fire jerseys everywhere. We had the game in Mississippi this past year and I think in the future we’d like to have preseason stops in both places.”

Get updates on the progress of the Chicago Fire Juniors-Louisiana at .

Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall.