A Tale of Two Franks: The Editorial

Klopas out, Yallop in

Klopas out, Yallop in

Before he got to say goodbye, OTF Editor Scott Fenwick gets to say hello…

Anyone who reads On The Fire and/or follows me on Twitter knows I quickly became disenchanted with Frank Klopas this season. In May, after careful consideration of his performance as Technical Director and Head Coach, I called for his sacking. For all the wrong reasons, he became my muse. Now that he’s gone, there’s nothing more to say that hasn’t already been said. None of it was personal. I wish him well.

Now, suddenly and unexpectedly, there’s a new Frank in town.

After Martin Rennie’s sacking earlier this week, I, like many, was convinced Frank Yallop, a former Canadian national team player and coach, would assume the vacancy at Whitecaps FC. It seemed the logical choice, as Yallop grew up in British Columbia with his English emigrant parents. Moreover, much of his family remains in Vancouver. So, Wednesday night, I was pleasantly surprised (and a bit shocked) to learn that Yallop, a seasoned, pedigreed MLS man, chose Chicago as his next home. 

After watching the press conference announcing Frank Yallop’s hiring on Thursday, following it on Twitter, and reading its transcript, Fire owner Andrew Hauptman has led me to believe that Yallop will be a manager in the traditional sense, a true soccer boss. Apparently, the dual role of Director of Soccer and Head Coach wasn’t on offer at Whitecaps FC, so Yallop, understandably, accepted an offer from Hauptman that he couldn’t refuse, one that allows him to take his career to the next level.

With the hiring of Yallop, Mr. Hauptman, ever the lightning rod for accusations of pettiness, thrift, egotism, meddling, and impatience, has bought himself an opportunity to learn from his past mistakes, to begin anew. If we are to take Mr. Hauptman at his word, finally, thankfully, we’ll all know who’s truly in charge at Toyota Park when it comes to what matters most – the soccer.

By handing Frank Yallop the reigns, Andrew Hauptman has signaled that Chicago Fire’s soccer operations, including its scouting and development systems, are poised for a total rebuild. After six years of instability, bad decision-making, and no trophies, Hauptman must stay patient, stand back, listen, and let Yallop work through the length of his multi-year contract, perhaps longer. If he does, he may be able to redeem himself over time. If he doesn’t, and the revolving door remains open, Andrew Hauptman will lose what little credibility he still has as Chicago Fire Soccer Club’s owner.

So, in the meantime, what should Fire Nation expect from Frank Yallop? Certainly, he will immediately get to work on a thorough audit of his first-team, technical staff, and others on the soccer side of things. For now, I expect Gui Petrei, Paul Cadwell, Rafa Carmona, Larry Sunderland, and other senior staff to stay. These top dogs in ops, development, and scouting will assist Yallop with the transition. In the long-run, some will be replaced and some will remain. What’s clear is, in the short-run, the experienced Yallop has ample time to tinker with a talent-laden roster and get his technical staff in place before training camp opens in late January.

On behalf of all of us at On The Fire, I want to extend a warm welcome to Mr. Frank Yallop. May you win many more trophies as the head Man in Red, sir.

Good luck, Godspeed, and Go Fire!

Scott Fenwick founded On The Fire in 2012 and is its Executive Editor. Along with Brian Smith, he co-hosts the On The Fire Soccer Radio Podcast. Scott also contributes to the Guardian’s (UK) MLS fan previewsThe Cup.usPickles Magazineand is America’s #1 Rapid supporter.

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