OTF Roundtable: Red Thursday

While Fire nation was patiently waiting for Nelson Rodriguez’s Thanksgiving announcement of their new coach, they went ahead and axed a lot of people.  Like… a lot of people.

CHICAGO (November 19, 2015) — Chicago Fire Soccer Club today announced changes to the soccer staff, parting ways with Goalkeeping Coach Aron Hyde, Strength and Conditioning Coach Adrian Lamb and Head of Scouting Trevor James.

“This decision was not taken lightly, but was ultimately necessary as part of advancing our soccer operations,” said Chicago Fire General Manager Nelson Rodríguez.  “We offer our best wishes for all of their respective future professional endeavors.”

In addition to the coaching staff changes, support staff members Ron Stern, Charles Raycroft and Allan Araujo were relieved of their duties.

Here’s what OTF contributors had to say about it…

George Gorecki

When a team has performed as poorly as the Fire have the last several seasons, it can hardly be a surprise when any coach is terminated. Although it is players who win and lose games, the people who select the players wind up on the hot seat when the team consistently fails.

Anyone connected with forming the Fire’s player pool has to be held accountable. Frank Yallop began his tenure with a “buck stops here” approach and so it is little wonder that he was the first to go.

Technical Director Brian Bliss and Head of Scouting Trevor James received their walking papers yesterday. They were presumably involved in the process of picking the players, so they also needed to be ousted.

The purge allows the new coach to select his own staff and that process may already be underway. Rather than have the new guy get rid of the old staff as his first actions, GM Nelson Rodriguez may have chosen to do the dirty work himself. If Rodriguez already has his man, then the purge may well have been directed by the new coach in a behind-the-scenes manner, with Rodriguez providing cover.

T.J. Zaremba

One of the big questions that skeptics had when the Chicago Fire hired Nelson Rodriguez was if he would have the autonomy to run the soccer operation, or would there be meddling from above. Since starting as team general manager on October 19th, it appears Rodriguez has complete authority of the soccer operation and has become the face of the franchise.

While it is always sad when good people lose their job, the dismissing of the support staff can only be seen as a positive. This decision is a precursor to hiring a new bench boss, which leads one to believe he is looking at a head coach who has ideas and wants to bring in his own people. Furthermore, it appears that the leadership has figured out there needs to be real change and not just change in name only. The current model was not working and they are letting Rodriguez make the changes he feels are necessary to give his coach every opportunity to succeed.

Overall, despite the small sample size, I do like what I have seen from Nelson Rodriguez running the Chicago Fire. He has a plan for how he wants to run this team and appears to be executing it. If he is as good as advertised, the results will follow. And as many teams have proven in the past, winning heals all wounds.


James Vlahakis

When a CEO type new is taking over a business, and the company is in a state of stagnation, or worse, a decline, it is not uncommon for there to be a reshuffling or a purging of high and midlevel staff. While one could easily argue that a sports franchise, and a soccer team in particular, is not a “business” in the same sense as a company pumping out Widgets, it is common for a new coach to want to start with a brand new staff of coaches, scouts and trainers. The same seems true for a general manager of any sport.

What appears to have unsettled more than a few people is the complete clear out of long tenured support staff (Ron Stern) and kit man (Charles Raycroft) at the direction (presumably) of Mr. Nelson. Mr. Nelson must have his reasons for doing so, as he strikes me as person who would think something out before taking action or saying something.* Mind you, I’ve never met him in person or interacted with him. Rather, my perception (hunch) is that Mr. Nelson thought this out and has his reason(s) (unstated) for doing so.

Mr. Nelson may not have been expecting the visceral reaction from many fans, but now that it has occurred, I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Nelson has had “first baptism of fire” at the hands of comitted and passionate Fire fans. Welcome to Chicago** Mr. Nelson!

[*editor’s note: Unless it involves taking semi-snarky shots at Fire alum and USMNT legend Eric Wynalda for having the audacity to read and quote from a book.]

[**editor’s note: To be precise, according to reports, Mr. Nelson will not be living in Chicago for the near future. On the positive side, his commute should allow him plenty of time to log enough miles on Southwest Airlines to allow Southwest to consider itself in the running as the Fire’s next jersey sponsor.]


3 thoughts on “OTF Roundtable: Red Thursday

  1. Pingback: The Cold Head and Warm Heart of Veljko Paunovic #CF97 | OTF Soccer

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