BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Well, that was quick.
Chicago Fire owner Andrew Hauptman took little time to set the new direction of the first team as the club unveiled former San Jose Earthquakes manager Frank Yallop as head coach and Director of Soccer Thursday morning.
The announcement came just one day after head coach Frank Klopas and President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon both stepped down from their posts after six seasons with the club.
“I’m incredibly excited to be welcoming Frank Yallop as the new head coach of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club,” Hauptman said a Thursday’s press conference. “I have an enormous amount of respect for him – I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know him over some time and I have a real confidence in his soccer acumen. I have faith in his history in building incredible team spirit with all the clubs he’s been with. He has an impressive depth of experience and that’s exactly what the club needs.”
“This happened very quickly,” Yallop said. “I’m very excited about the opportunity to be joining the Fire, a great organization and just working with Andrew. He’s the one that really pushed it and made sure we’re going in the right direction. I’m very excited to get going. I can’t wait to get to work and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.”
Yallop is the first coach in club history to join the Fire with previous head coaching experience in MLS. He’s also one of the most successful in the league’s 18-year history, joining Bruce Arena, Sigi Schmid and Dominic Kinnear as one of four men to win multiple MLS Cups, claiming two with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2001 and 2003.
Those trophies along with his 2012 Supporter’s Shield with the ‘Quakes and two MLS Coach of the Year awards (2001 and 2012) all add up to a record that Hauptman said, “speaks for itself.”
Along with becoming head coach, Yallop was also named the club’s Director of Soccer Operations.
“[That title] shouldn’t be lost on anyone,” Hauptman said. “One of the reasons I’m excited to have Frank in this role is because he’s proven the ability to identify talent and often within sort of financial parameters that have been more constrained than they have been at the Fire.”
“Andrew obviously runs the club from his point of view but all player acquisitions will be my decision to bring into the club,” Yallop said. “Obviously working with the squad already -- it’s a talented team -- there’s no doubt about that but everything soccer-wise, I’ll be making the last decision on those things with help from the staff.”
After news of Martin Rennie’s firing by the Vancouver Whitecaps on Monday, some were surprised by Yallop turning up in Chicago. The former Canadian international player and manager hails from British Columbia and was heavily rumored to be the Scot’s replacement with Whitecaps FC.
Instead, Hauptman said he acted fast to secure Yallop’s services following the team’s season-ending defeat at New York which saw them just out of the MLS Cup playoffs.
“Given the timeframe, it was very swift and given everything we were very blessed to make the decision as quickly as possible, to be in a position where we can have a seamless transition and really not lose a day of timing,” Hauptman said.
Asked why he decided for Chicago over returning home to Vancouver, Yallop bluntly stated, “Andrew wanted me. He made a swift decision, he said, ‘Let’s do this.’ I had to make a decision and that’s all I’ll say on that.”
As for the style that can be expected on Yallop, he was quick to point out that he hoped to play slightly differently than the style he’d come to be known for in San Jose the past few seasons.
“It won’t be the long-ball, hoof it up the field system. I like pretty soccer too,” he joked. “I adjust to the players I have. I had very good forwards in San Jose that needed feeding and figured the quicker you can get the ball to them, it was good. I look at the Fire’s roster, it’s more setup to play.
“If you look at my teams I’ve had over the years – the first one I had in San Jose was a very good footballing team that moved the ball very well and Landon Donovan was involved in that. I’ve had good players and I think this team is setup to play. What I like to do is recover the ball as quick as we can in the opposing half and then go from there.
"We can talk about all I like – I’m not sure how it’s going to look in print but I just want to make sure we’re playing at a high tempo and not allow the other team to dictate what they do. It’s about what we do. If you do that in any game, your chances are good.”
Yallop will return to California this weekend and is expected to move to Chicago, as well as hold his first training session with the team next week.