CHICAGO (September 20, 2015) -- Chicago Fire Soccer Club today announced the appointment of former MLS veteran Nelson Rodríguez as General Manager. In addition, the Club has parted ways with Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop, as well as assistant coaches Marc Bircham and Clint Mathis, naming Technical Director Brian Bliss as the Interim Head Coach and former Fire Captain Logan Pause as Interim Assistant Coach. Rodríguez will join the Fire on October 19, all other changes are effective immediately.
Using his deep experience in leading both the technical and business sides of soccer, as GM, Rodríguez will oversee all sporting operations, including technical staff management, scouting, player personnel, player development systems and the Academy. He will also lead the search for a new head coach. Rodríguez joins the Fire most recently from U.S. Soccer, where he served as Managing Director of National Team Advisory Services. His U.S. Soccer post came after 14 years of experience working in various senior roles in Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing. His last position within MLS was as Executive Vice President of Competition, Technical and Game Operations, where he was responsible for all on-field competition.
In his nearly two seasons at the Fire, Yallop led the club to a 13-26-24 record (63 points), with the team currently in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, nine points outside the playoff position, with five regular-season matches remaining. Aron Hyde, Goalkeeping Coach, will stay on to work with Bliss and Pause. Bliss will remain Technical Director during this transition.
"I share our fans’ frustration and, while we’ve enjoyed success off the pitch, I’m obviously not happy with the results on it. I felt the need to make changes now in order to better position ourselves for the off-season and beyond," said Andrew Hauptman, Chairman of Andell Inc. and Chairman and Owner of Chicago Fire Soccer Club. “I have tremendous confidence about the future of this Club in Nelson’s hands and am beyond thrilled to bring him to Chicago.”
Hauptman continued: “Nelson is a proven leader with a stellar national reputation, an exceptionally skilled soccer mind and has extensive experience working alongside players and coaches. He is uniquely qualified to build and manage our technical team and lead our Club, while more closely aligning our on field efforts with the activities of our dynamic front office led by COO Atul Khosla.”
“It is with great pride and excitement that I am joining the Chicago Fire,” said Rodríguez. “I have tremendous respect for Andrew and his vision for the future of this Club and thank him for this opportunity. I have always enjoyed Chicago and admired its great sports fans. I consider leading the Fire to be more than just a responsibility, but also a privilege. I will work hard to uphold the club's tradition, protect its honor and help raise more championship banners. I look forward to working alongside the great club staff assembled at Toyota Park. I also wish to thank U.S. Soccer for the privilege I had to serve with them and in particular Sunil Gulati, Dan Flynn and Jurgen Klinsmann.”
MORE ABOUT NELSON RODRÍGUEZ
During his tenure with MLS and SUM, Rodríguez held a variety of posts including serving as President of Chivas USA during the club’s transitional year. At MLS Rodríguez initiated and supervised the League's technical committee, expanded the League's scouting and analytics capabilities and was also instrumental in the creation of the Professional Referees Organization (“PRO”). In addition, he supervised supporter relations, safety and security, team travel and the League’s growing sports medicine initiatives.
In previous roles within MLS, Rodríguez served as Senior Vice President of Strategic Business Development where he worked closely with the Commissioner’s Office in areas such as business planning, new business development and strategic alliances and also served as Senior Vice President of SUM International.
Before joining MLS in 2000, Rodríguez served as Director of Soccer Operations for the MetroStars from 1998-1999.
MORE ABOUT BRIAN BLISS
Bliss joined the Fire in December 2013, after six years serving as the first-ever Technical Director of the Columbus Crew. On Sept. 2, 2013 Bliss was appointed Interim Head Coach of the Crew, where he led the Crew to a 4-4-0 record to close out the 2013 season.
Bliss began his coaching career in 1999 with the Connecticut Wolves of the A-League. In 2000, Bliss was appointed assistant coach for the Kansas City Wizards.
ABOUT CHICAGO FIRE SOCCER CLUB
Founded on the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Chicago Fire Soccer Club continues its 18th Major League Soccer season with six major domestic championship titles including the 1998 MLS Cup and 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006 U. S. Soccer Open Cup, and 2003 Supporters Shield. Anchoring Chicago's growing soccer fan base, the Fire play at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., located 15 miles from Chicago's Loop. www.Chicago-Fire.com.