Fire’s latest coaching departure a bad sign for Chicago’s future


What do you get when you take an overbearing and meddling owner and a stubborn head coach? You get a marriage that was never going to work.

Such is the case in Chicago, where the Fire is looking for its third coach in three years after parting ways with head coach Denis Hamlett, who never did see eye-to-eye with Fire owner Andrew Hauptman, who has taken a hands-on approach to running the Fire that led to a strained relationship with Hamlett.

Where did it all go wrong? It went wrong when Hamlett made the assumption that winning was enough, that doing his job and guiding the Fire to a pair of playoff victories was evidence enough that he was growing into his job in his second year as head coach. Instead of proving his worth, Hamlett became the first head coach in MLS history to not be retained after reaching conference finals in each of his first two seasons in charge.

You will hear Fire officials say that it was a matter of wanting a new direction, and you'll hear rumblings that a lack of trophies did in Hamlett, but you won't hear that from the men who ultimately dumped Hamlett, Hauptman and sporting director Javier Leon. You will instead hear it from technical director Frank Klopas, who has been tasked with doing the dirty work for the Fire's leadership, even though Hauptman and Leon were the men who pulled the trigger.

They aren't likely to face the music and address the decision they made. They will simply continue to play the background while they look for a head coach who will play their game, who will let them be involved, who will allow Hauptman to operate as sort of a younger, soccer version of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.

For those of you in the soccer world who don't know who Al Davis is, he's the 80-year-old owner whose need to have his hands in the running of the team he owns has helped turn the Raiders into one of the laughing stocks of the NFL. His need to be in control has led the team to hire inexperienced coaches who would let Davis meddle and simply be thankful for having a job as a head coach.

Perhaps that is what Fire leadership thought would happen with Hamlett, a long-time assistant coach who had yearned for a head coaching job for years. Hamlett didn't play along though. Hamlett had no interest in humoring an overbearing owner so instead of forging a relationship with Hauptman, Hamlett tried keeping him at arm's length. That approach doomed Hamlett to a brief tenure in charge of the Fire, so when Chicago struggled through injuries and inconsistent form at home, the stage was set for the Fire to unload Hamlett after just two seasons.

If control is what Fire officials are ultimately looking for, we will see for ourselves when they make their next coaching hire. Former Fire legend Chris Armas is already being mentioned as a leading candidate despite having exactly one year of coaching experience on the pro level. If he is hired, or if the Fire turn to a coach with no head coaching experience, it will mark their second straight hiring of someone who hasn't been a head coach before, a trend that would lend at least some credence to Hauptman's comparisons to Al Davis.

It isn't as if coaches with little to no experience haven't succeeded in MLS before. Peter Nowak won an MLS Cup title in his first year as a coach (with D.C. United) while Jason Kreis just became the youngest head coach to ever win an MLS Cup title just 30 months after retiring as a player and jumping right into coaching. What must be made clear about those two success stories is that in both instances, the novice coaches were supported by strong front office leadership and understanding ownership that let their soccer people make the soccer decisions. That doesn't appear to be the environment that would await the Fire's next head coach.

Does Hamlett bear his share of blame in all this? He isn't blameless in the sense that he could have done more to establish a relationship with Hauptman, but Hamlett still did his job well and still navigated the Fire through injuries and player unhappiness with their contracts, all while managing a locker room with as many strong egos as any team in the league. The Fire remained a hard team to figure out during its time under Hamlett. Chicago was absolutely dominant on the road, easily boasting the best road record in a league where winning on the road just isn't common, but the Fire was painfully mediocre at home, never really establishing the home-field advantage you might expect at Toyota Park.

In the end, Hamlett's tenure with the Fire was done in by the slimmest of margins, by penalty kick losses in the SuperLiga Final and MLS Eastern Conference Final. A trophy, or even a berth in the MLS Cup Final, might have been enough to buy him another year, but the truth is it might have simply delayed the inevitable. Fire ownership and Hamlett were never going to really see eye-to-eye, were never going to have that relationship needed to produce a championship team. The question that lingers now is whether the Fire will ever find that again with its current ownership.

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88 Responses to Fire’s latest coaching departure a bad sign for Chicago’s future

  1. JavaLavaJoe says:

    Great article…honest, inside look at the truth.

  2. Mountaineer Pride says:

    Im on record as wanting Mr. Hamlett in Washington. I think he would be a tremendous fit for my fair city.

  3. Christopher Davis says:

    I never understood why Hamlett was unpopular but this explains much. But, didnt Hamllet also ruffle a few feathers in the locker room as well. He was a good coach but in my opinion, The Fire Organization has always been a class franchise before Hamlett or Hauptman. We will see what happens now.

  4. huck1eberry says:

    I think you are forgetting Hamlett’s uncanny ability to snatch a draw out of the jaws of an imminent victory. His bunker tactics stole more wins from a team that should have easily won the Community Shield. His complete lack of coaching positions.
    Hamlett was a good assistant coach. He won a lot of games despite himself. I will be sad to see a Fire original go. But I would like to see a strong head coach.

  5. kaca says:

    ives i don’t understand the man love for hamlett! does hamlett have pictures of you in womens underwear or something?

    the guy was a terrible game coach, he made terrible substitutions, terrible second half adjustments, couldn’t manage a locker room, constantly played players out of position and his bunker style of soccer was boring. hamlett couldn’t win at home where the team enjoyed great fan support.

    not so sure your description of the ownership is correct. hamlett was coaching when hauptman arrived and as an owner hauptman should be able to hire his own coach. as a fire fan i am not aware of the level of meddling you suggest. considering that hauptman has been around for less than 2 years comparing him to al davis is a low blow!

    not many in chicago are crying. good guys don’t always get the job done.

    as always keep up the good work ives.

    (SBI-Kaca, Hauptman was the team’s owner when Hamlett was hired as head coach. As for the Al Davis reference, it’s more to the point about what can happen when a meddling owner interferes too much and hand-picks younger coaches to allow him to interfere. That’s what Davis does and that’s what it would appear Hauptman wants to do. We will soon see if this is the case.

    And no, Hamlett doesn’t have pictures of me. I just think he’s a better coach that some of the more vocal Fire fans think and I also think the environment in Chicago isn’t one that’s good for any head coach, not just Hamlett, which could ultimately lead to the Fire falling from the ranks of perennial power. That’s the point of the piece. It isn’t as much about Hamlett as it is about the way the Fire is being run. I’ve got a bunch of sources in Chicago who have all helped paint a picture there that isn’t a rosy one. If this piece helps shine a light on things, or helps some folks realize or reconsider how things are being done, then I will have done my job.)

  6. Richmond, VA says:

    I feel the same way, as soon as I hear rumors of him being let go I thought he’d be a perfect fit for DC. DC should sign him quick, either him or Richie

  7. Robert says:

    Sounds like Vergara of Chivas in Mexico… He’s everywhere in soccer in that country and controls the strings of the system, often leading to dead ends with his favorite club (Chivas, three or four head coaches in this past year) and even the Mexico national team (Eriksson was his idea).

  8. Matt says:

    As a Fire fan, I’m torn on the Hamlett decision. A guy who has been with the Fire since the beginning deserves more of a chance,


    Like it or not, in coaching you are judged by expectations. Blanco, McBride, Rolfe, Conde, Segares, Pause, Busch. Those players are all in the top of the league at their positions. And we won nothing with them all together. 0 MLS cups, 0 Supporter’s Shields, 0 MLS Cup Finals appearances, 0 US Open Cups, 0. With that talent the expectation is silverware. PERIOD.

    And Hamlett did not meet expectations.

  9. Ulrich says:

    Amusing and one-sided. Hauptman can do whatever he wants since he owns the team. It’s not like he’s on the headset calling plays during games; all he wants is to have HIS people in place within the organization – that’s an owner prerogative.

    And of course Klopas is being made to do the “dirty work” – he’s the Technical Director which is Hamlett’s immediate boss; in the real world, a person’s boss/superior is the one to pull the trigger and hand over the pink slip, NOT the company’s owner.

    And frankly, with the talent the Fire have, not winning the Supporter’s Shield and not winning the MLS Cup is every reason to dump the coach. There are always arguments that MLS coaches need to be familiar with MLS rules in order to navigate the system correctly, but the majority of MLS coaches are all tactically limited in their understanding of the game…. Regardless of whether Hamlett is well liked within the MLS community, his ability to coach is truly mediocre and will never grow beyond average without apprenticing under a foreign coach.

  10. JL says:

    Some of this I agree with, but some of it just dumb commentary. Isn’t one of Klopas’ jobs to handle things like this? I mean ownership makes the decision, and pass them on to upper management in every walk of life, I don’t get why this is any different? And I think it’s on Hamlett for not doing better to keep his employer happy, meddling owner or not, you gotta know how to handle your boss. Should making the Eastern Conf finals been enough? Probably. But at the same time he has had several public feuds with players, and some questionable decisions with lineups, so I don’t really know what to think.

    (SBI-JL, my point in mentioning Klopas was to point out that it wasn’t him who made this decision, it was made by the people above him. I wanted to make that clear for those who seem to think Klopas made this decision. You’ve got valid points about the rest, which is why I brought those subjects up (though I’m curious as to what public feuds with players you’re referring to. His clash with Baky Soumare was well-documented, but that’s the only one that could be called a public feud).)

  11. Chris in Belfast says:

    If Hauptman manages to run this team into the ground and make it FCD North, he will become my worst enemy.

  12. steve says:

    Al Davis? You mean the universally agreed worst owner in the NFL that has driven his team to the bottom of the league? A little strong.

    I think that analogy fits better a lot closer to home Ives. Maybe it fits in a couple of years but I think a bit strong with the information to date.

    As a Fire fan I am not sold on this decision for one reason there is no clear ‘must have’ coaching candidate to fill the role. And I have ton of trepidation at this point in what is sure to be a huge transition year. But as of today I like more than I dislike from what I see in Hauptman (letters to the fans, then responding to that letter when it was criticized, to meeting with supporters groups and other fans).

    Go FIRE!

  13. Chris in Belfast says:

    I would also point to Kreis as a reasonable wish for Denis to have matured into. I think we got a bit star-struck in Chicago the last few years, but having a new coach at the helm was always going to be full of growing pains. He just needed time to mature as a coach, but maybe that’s not something guys should be expected in the top league of the country.

  14. Al17 says:

    I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again, a number of the same Fire fans whom wanted to see Denis go are the very same ones whom thought Osorio was the man despite the fact that during his tenure we barely made the play-offs instead of having made it 3 weeks earlier.

    A number of the same Fire fans were not happy from day one when Denis was hired. Hell many were screaming for Jon Spencer and Paul Mariner whom were assistants at other clubs. I’ll never understand that train of logic.

    Fact is that Denis was blamed more for players whom didn’t execute than any coach I can remember in recent memory. Pick a match and we can all find a reason to blame a player for not executing but the fact of the matter is that many Fire fans NEVER would credit Denis with anything good with this club. Hell the number of my fellow Fire fans whom are constantly screaming about how deep we are tend to be at a loss for words when they’re calle on it. Example, the PK loss. If we were so damn deep, why did we have Prideaux taking a PK? That’s just the start of it. If we were so deep how come….

    Well, a number of the Fire Denis fans have gotten what they’ve wished for and you know the old adage.. “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it..” well you got it and do me afavor don’t start bitching when this club misses the play-offs the next few seasons because of coaching and a lack of personnel.

    The way the club handled this was piss poor, you just don’t treat people this way.

    The difference between Vergara and Hauptmann is that Vergara actually knows the damn game. Hauptmann doesn’t and now the hard lessons will be learned.

    The dark days for a Fire fans have begun.

  15. Doug says:

    Good article overall.

    That being said, the elephant in the room is who are they looking to hire? Any insights on that?

  16. Joe says:

    Have fun! Hope you like watching defense ALL season. The guy coached the team with the most talent and most depth. He is not a good coach.

  17. Joe says:

    My thoughts exactly. I would rather them lose by trying to play football than the way they did these past 2 seasons. I was calling for this guy to be let go after last season. It sucks that we had to waste the most talented team to get rid of this guy.

  18. fanaddict says:

    I’m not sure what people are talking about when they say the Fire had enough great talent to win the supporters shield,mls cup etc. They had decent talent not great. Blanco and mcbride are now old and slow, neither scored or assisted enough to justify their salaries.Rolfe while having to play out of position did not score enough.While I don’t consider Hamlett a great coach he got about all you could get from the talent on the fire.

  19. ec says:

    I don’t think a coach needs to “understand” MLS so much as not treat it like a joke a la Ruud Gullit (showing up to your team’s draft is a start). I can see both sides of the Hamlett firing, I think Chicago underachieved considering their talent and Hamlett never could repair the locker room after JCO left.

    But I think the front office is to blame as much as Hamlett for helping the Conde situation to fester, and for giving Mapp a hefty raise to alternate sitting on the bench with turning the ball over. They should have flipped both those guys into assets.

    BTW… since the Fire protected McBride in the expansion draft, does that mean he is returning?

  20. jleppig says:

    JL = Javier Leon?

  21. green says:

    Al Davis. . . lol.

  22. martha says:

    Hamlett near blameless?

    He had a MLS best 11 in Conde, a former league MVP candidate in Blanco, The best target forward the US has ever produced in Mcbride,

    Eight players with senior national team CAPS in Segares, Pappa, Thorrington, Busch, Mapp, Pause, Rolfe, Soumare.

    and won NOTHING

    And elected to let two defenders and a dmid who played a 120 minutes take PKS
    over a forward (Nyarko) and and offensive mid (Mapp) who were both late game subs.

    Good riddance. If Hauptman knew enough about soccer to dump this man i have faith

  23. Joe says:

    In the pk loss, the coaches decision on who picks the shooters. We still had Mapp and Nyarko that didnt shoot. The Menace was glad when we had all these injuries. It made his decisions easier. He will never be a good head coach. He only watched players leave the club, not come in. Players that left under Hamlett; Rolfe, Soumare, Blanco, Segares. Players brought in; some Costa Rican defender that he himself said wont play. Him gone is the best news I’ve heard since Chad Barrett getting traded for McBride.

  24. Joe says:

    Frankowski, Ives?

    (SBI-I don’t really consider a player complaining because he wasn’t getting playing time a public feud. I also heard from Fire players that Frankowski was an egomaniac was handled the way he needed to be handled.)

  25. Front Row says:


    You are too kind again. Others have correctly pointed out Hamlett’s fault: player development. Mapp got worse, Nyarko and Banner stayed the same, and Prideau and Thorington wavered in play. Putting Rolfe in at mid-field was unwise. It was not only some key playoff games that the Fire lost, but lackluster performances at Toyata Park when the Fire drew large crowds that helped undermine Hamlett. Certainly, a meddling owner can have deletrious consequences, but no one has ever considered Hamlett a genious.

  26. Fireman451 says:

    Hauptman is AL Davis? Let’s check the facts shall we?

    1) Sarachan was fired by Guppy/AEG.

    2) Osorio was hired by Guppy/AEG and after a his short stint, he cried, moaned and whined to the new owner Andrew Hauptman to let him out of contract to go to NY; you know how that unfolded Ives.

    3) Hamlett was Hauptman’s “FIRST” hiring. Now I think it’s safe to say that Denis wasn’t Andrew’s first choice, but neither party had a gun to their heads when they signed a 2 year deal.

    Was Hauptman’s expectations for Denis high? Looks like they were. Did Denis have the tools to earn a contract extension? Yes. Did Denis face challenges in achieving those goals? In my opinion he did, but the challenges were both outside of his control and some self inflicted. Either way, he knew he had a 2 year time span to achieve them.

    So let’s see who Andrew Hauptman decides will be his “SECOND” hiring before we judge him.

    Hauptman may well end up being the next jerk Al Davis sticking his nose in the club’s business with horrible results . . . or, OR . . . he could be the next jerk George Steinbrenner sticking his nose in the club’s business with multiple championships.

    It’s way too early to pick out out which overbearing owner-type Andrew will turn out to be Ives, way too early.

  27. soccergrrrl says:

    I’m shocked at the venom you have here for hauptman ives. I’m in chicago and as a fire fan am pretty happy to see that he cares enough to make a difficult move like this knowing he’d take some critcism. As far as I’m concerned the fire needs to move on and bring in a coach that can take us all the way. Hamlett’s been with the fire for 12 years. he should have better results – if he’s not “matured” by now then more reason for him to go. And I went to an event hauptman did with fans and I’ve never seen another owner in this town give that kind of access. I’m with him on this one.

  28. anovato says:

    Good decision, Hamlet is a bad coach.

    The PK decisions was the final straw for me. I stood 20 feet behind the goal, and watched Dennis allow two defensive players (one of whom has 0 career goals) take the most important PKs of the match. Good riddance, and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

    For the record, Soumare was probably one of the top 3 center defenders in the MLS, good work.

  29. DDT5583 says:


    Love the site, but this article is a bit specious. I wasn’t calling for Hamlett’s head, and I do think he did a pretty good job, all things considered. I think he’ll develop into a good coach somewhere. However, here’s a few things you said that I take issue with:

    1: It’s a little rich for you to be calling out posters for not having sources for their assertions when you, a professional, have provided nothing other than “from what I’m hearing”

    2: “a trend that would lend at least some credence to Hauptman’s comparisons to Al Davis” ? As far as I can tell (and I endeavor to read every bit of Fire related content on the interwebs) you are the only person to have made this comparison, and only a paragraph above this quote at that. Seems a little premature to pluralize comparison at this point.

    3: While agreeing that new coaches need time to grow into the role, (probably more than 2 years), doesn’t the same apply to owners? I think most Fire fans would agree that we have been pleased with recent signs of progress in Andy’s approach to the fans and the team. We’ll see what he’s learned with this second hiring process, like not lowballing your first choice, for example.

  30. Seviybreccos says:

    Ives, your thoughts are a joke. Hamlett had his chance to win with Conde, Segares, Rolfe, Soumare, Blanco, and McBride. He got into a fight with Soumare and he is no longer with the Fire. Segares is probably going to Europe, Rolfe is going to Europe for sure, Blanco will be gone for at least half the season and probably isn’t coming back, McBride is up in the air and either way had one goal after May, and Conde is likely to explore Europe too.

    Hamlett couldn’t get the Fire over the top in MULTIPLE formats, not one trophy, and now the makeup of the team is going to be entirely different. Why in the world should the Fire have kept him? You honestly expect him to go farther with substantially less? This isn’t a charity or government work. You can’t keep someone around because they are a quality person, standup gentlemen, honest guy and produce passable results. The team needs a new direction. Hamlett may have not done anything to deserve getting fired but he certainly didn’t do anything to deserve staying on.

  31. Steve says:

    This is the 2nd mention of Nyarko not taking a PK against RSL and its just plain incorrect.

    If you were at the game you saw that through out the shoot-out Nyarko was sitting down with a jacket on and an ice pack on his bandaged head from the head clash suffered a few minutes earlier. The kid couldn’t stand up let alone take a penelty.

    Please put that line away.

  32. Stefan says:

    As a Fire supporter, I have mixed feelings. I was never sold on Hamlett being the right coach at the right time. I thought he needed to get out of Chicago to grow as a coach, but I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. My issue with his hiring was that the Fire were/are investing heavily in offensive-minded players and have continued to hire coaches with a decidedly defensive mindset. There seems to be a disconnect between coaching style and the players’ skill sets. If the Fire are going to pay/draft goal scorers, then let’s get them on the field in positions to score goals.

  33. otergod says:

    i have defended DH since day 1…however, slowly i lost confidence in him…. i know he had injury issues to deal with, more then most teams typically have to deal with… but if “winning” was all he thought he had to do, perhaps he’s at the wrong level of coaching…

    what has he won?? back to back trips to the eastern conference finals… 0 hardware with our team?? does anyone remember the teams who won games but no hardware?? heck, we needed a result in our last game of the regular season to officially earn our spot in the playoffs…

    his decisions to sit star players for various reasons… sub choice… overall game tactics… these were all suspect… what we Fire fans saw was an offensive team forced into a defensive shell…. putting blanco up top with BMB?? putting Rolfe out wide??? sticking thorington in the middle?? just to point those out, there are 3 players out of position…

    i wish DH the best, but i finally agree that we need to move in a different direction… if that means growing pains while we rebuild our team, so be it… it was painful to watch the fire truly amount to little this season… my HS team made it to the Semifinals 4 yrs in a row… an accomplishment for such a small school, but overall we won little to nothing

  34. anovato says:

    Well said.

  35. Austin says:

    not only did they just sack a atleast decent manager, they will be loosing their best players and may trade Justin Mapp if Marco Pappa is resigned

    List of goodbyes:




    Might be leaving:





    Chicago is in deep doo doo

  36. Well written article. For my fandom, I hope you’re wrong Ives, and the next coach will be able to make his own decisions. When any coach is ousted like this (justifiable or not) the mettle of a franchise is tested on the type of hire that comes next. We shall see.

  37. otergod says:

    i agree… once Nyarko got hurt, i truly didnt expect him to step up and take the PK…

  38. otergod says:

    shocking isnt it??

    honestly i wouldnt expect much with DH having a less squad….

    you left off Prideaux….

    he earned no hardware with such a deep squad, do you expect his odds would improve losing so many?? no, he’d fall deeper into his defensive shell tactic… having a solid defense is 1 thing, but putting 2 slow forwards up top and expect a counter game seems folly…

    we might be in for some tough times in chicago, but we need a change…

  39. jleppig says:

    I like this article and the discussion it spawned.

  40. Pablo Chicago says:

    Wow, that’s a rather one-sided opinion piece there Ives.

    Hamlett lost the respect of many players when he decided to physically challenge Soumare. After the altercation, Soumare hit the showers and Hamlett yelled after him, “I’m still here!”

    Hauptman’s error was being cheap. Remember, Hamlett was Plan B after Plan A said he was insulted by the Fire’s offer.

    If Hauptman tries to go the cheap route, then yes that will mean trouble for the Fire.

  41. John Sweeny says:

    What a hatchet job Ives. Seriously. For every meddling Al Davis you have a meddling George Steinbrenner and Roman Abramovich, but the fact is (as most fans involved with the team know) Andrew is fairly hands off with the team and therefore your piece (did Denis come up with this theory or was it all your doing?) fails the straight face test. Let us look at some of your claims:
    1. “Hamlett still did his job well” – in what respect? He brought ZERO trophies to the Fire, not even a Brimstone Cup, he never even got us to the CCL.
    2. “navigated the Fire through injuries” – in 2008 Denis had the incredible luck of almost zero injuries and managed nothing, and the first half of 2009 was injury free, yet the performance of the team was mediocre during those times.
    3. “navigated the Fire through… player unhappiness with their contracts” – really? According to who exactly?
    4. “all while managing a locker room with as many strong egos as any team in the league” – he really managed to fight with a player and bloody his nose, driving him off the team. Sounds like real good management of egos.

  42. Joel says:

    Ives, you seem to have forgotten that the guy bloodied up a young player in the locker room. He was done that day, there was no way they were going to renew his contract. Big bad Hauptman could have fired him that day and charges could have been filed. He was given the respect and the leeway to finish out his contract with some dignity. Ultimately, the guy lost the locker room, he was done, the players went to the conference final in spite of Hamlett.

  43. DC says:

    “Where did it all go wrong? It went wrong when Hamlett made the assumption that winning was enough……”

    I love you, Ives, and I believe you might be the hardest-working American soccer writer, but dear god do you get personally invested in some stories.

    There are plenty of reasons why Hamlett should get a little more time, but the Fire were a supremely talented team these last two years that have no trophies to show for it. And the fact Hauptman isn’t quite 80 years old, and that Al Davis was a highly successful visionary when he was younger and before he fell off the deep end makes that comparison laughable.

    Still love you, though.

  44. JL says:

    I could be wrong, but I believe he had a spat with Conde last season, when he wouldn’t put him in the starting lineup, Rolfe for not playing him in his natural position, and Blanco for not playing him at the beginning of the year. Soumare was just the one who was able to get out of town as a result of the fight, although Rolfe and Blanco are leaving now too. That’s a lot of talented players butting heads with the guy, whether he is right in his moves or not. To me, that’s man management.

    As for Klopas not making the decision, I guess I hadn’t heard anyone thinking it was him who made the call.

  45. Section8Sellouts says:

    Here’s a question for all you Fire fans coming out of the woodwork. How many of you have posted on here after being asked to do so by the Fire? Pretty pathetic when the team has to ask its fans to defend it.

    Hamlett being fired wasn’t a huge crime, but the new owner is a train wreck and it sounds like some Fire fans will give him a free pass because he shook their hands at a dinner. Great fans you Fire folks are.

  46. anovato says:

    What are you even saying man, come up with a substantive argument.

  47. Windy City Warrior says:

    As a Fire fan, I’ve never agreed with anything you’ve posted more. The Al Davis analogy is spot on. I’ve been around the organization almost since day one and Andrew Hauptman and his overpaid leadership team who know nothing about soccer need to cut bait and sell this team before they completely destroy this organization.

    I’m not the world’s biggest Hamlett supporter, but I would be in favor of keeping him on. But I also believe that Andrew has the right to be wrong and not renew his contract…Just take the high road and part ways amicably.

    The bottom line, if all the rumors flying around MLS are correct, the Fire is becoming the most classless team in the league.

  48. DDT5583 says:

    My team doesn’t have to ask, and if any fire fan posted here at the behest of the team I would be shocked.

  49. DDT5583 says:


  50. DDT5583 says:

    What rumors? From what sources?

  51. mbp79 says:

    Wow. This article is…garbage.

  52. Seviybreccos says:

    What other rumors are flying around?

    How would it have been classy to keep Hamlett on after he beat up Soumare? I think he should have been fired right after that. That would have been the classy move.

  53. anovato says:

    Hauptman has been reaching out to the Fire fans, most notably Section 8. Whether or not he takes into consideration the things that were said will be seen in time, but until then he is making more of an effort to understand the fans than any owner I’ve known of.

    DH made the biggest mistake he could ever make, he hurt a player physically. Trust was gone from that point on.

    He alienated players, he destroyed team chemistry, he drove the team into the ground. He won games, but never the games that really mattered. At a time when the team needed his coaching the most, he was absent. It was simply inexcusable to allow a defender with no career goals to take a final PK for the conference championships.

  54. rlw2020 says:

    Brian McBride to fix everything for Chicago! player/coach/tech director

  55. dabull says:

    Ives, remember a Polish striker named Frankowski? Wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t. He never really played b/c he and Denis couldn’t get along.

    Denis and Klopas (or Hauptman as you are insinuating) never really seemed to see eye to eye on player aquisitions. I believe that fact alone is enough cause to make a change.

  56. Seviybreccos says:

    I will take any rumors with no sources even!

  57. John Sweeny says:

    Frankowski an egomaniac? Come on Ives, do some research, the guy is as low key as they come. The way he should have handled Frankowski was to play him and let him succeed or fail on the field. Hamlett screwed him, and as a result he screwed any chance to win in 2008.

  58. dabull says:

    Unfortunately Ives is giving a wrong impressions of the Fire ownership. It is not a train wreck. Not even close. Since when is an owner not allowed to bring in people with a similar philosophy and mind set? Since when is wanting to win actual hardware wrong? That’s not meddling . . . that being an owner!

    And when and how has the team asked fans to write on these boards? I haven’t gotten anything.

    (SBI-Unfortunately (for you), I’m not giving YOUR impression of Fire ownership. I will trust in what I have written and will stand by it and the sources that helped me shape this view. You can disagree, but telling me I’m wrong because I don’t see things your way is a stretch.)

  59. Juan Carlos says:

    Ives, you are assuming that the Fire are going to hire an inexperienced coach or an MLS re-tread. When in relaity they are porbably going to upgrade with a high end foreign coach.

    (SBI-You mean they probably SHOULD upgrade with a high-end foreign coach. That’s what they should do(not that foreign coaches have done well in MLS). Let’s see if that is what they actually do.)

  60. 57Tele says:

    I grew up playing against Hamlet in the DC area. I still have the holes in my shins to show for it. Being a DC native (after moving to US from Costa Rica), he may end up on the DC staff even if not selected as head coach. I don’t follow MLS enough to have an opinion as to what kind of job he did, but it was interesting reading the different opinions.

  61. Jeanne says:

    Great article. I live in the DC area, and we have another great example of the danger of a meddling ownership – Dan Synder and the Wash Redskins. As a Revs fan, I’d love to see the Fire self destruct. However, I do think Hamlett didn’t deserve to be fired.

    (SBI-In retrospect, Dan Snyder was a MUCH better analogy than Al Davis. Perhaps it skipped my mind since I’m a Redskins fan and have tried blocking out all things Redskins from my mind. Seriously though, the Al Davis thing was meant to specifically refer to a meddling owner’s move to hire young coaches for the purpose of controlling a team.)

  62. Fireman451 says:

    Maybe you should write an article about how Hamlett is the best choice for RBNY. This time around however, your club wouldn’t have any of the drama surrounding the last Fire coach Red Bulls hired.

    I see it as a logical step since you think Denis is a quality MLS coach that’s been wronged; RBNY is looking for a good man after all.

    With any luck, Denis would do as well as JCO did.

  63. MikeR says:

    I guess the thing is, Ives, that we can’t evaluate your sources because we don’t know who they are. Dennis Hamlet? His assistants? Fire players? Which ones? I’m not a big fan of anonymous sources, but here, you’ve provided even less: no quotes, no descriptions of who you’ve talked to (i.e., Fire players, etc.) After the Osorio/Conde situation, it seems possible you chat with Conde and that shapes your opinions. Maybe it’s not true, but how would I know?

    If you had some direct quotes from guys like Rolfe, McBride, Segares, C.J. Brown, etc., I’d be more inclined to accept what you say. As it is, it just sounds like you’ve got a problem with the Fire ownership arising from the Osorio situation.

    You may be completely correct in what you write. We just have no way of knowing. Combine that with the fact that most Fire fans have been less than impressed with Hamlet, and you can understand why we’re unimpressed with this post. How about some more info on sources that would allow us to evaluate this? How about some of your sources manning up and putting themselves on the record?

  64. Juan Carlos Osorio, Windy City Futbol Legend says:

    Chicago needs someone who is well dressed, keeps copious notes and plays a 4-5-1 formation. Hmmmm…am I being too coy?

  65. Doug says:

    You have got to be kiding ! Columbus had more injuries than the Fire and won the Shield, Chivas had more injuries and Preki got them to over acheive.

    The Fire was healthy for the first half of the season and managed to have to settle for ties in games they dominated. Hamlett could not plan to score on set pieces or defend them and that tells right there that he did not have the brains to be a head coach. How he played Rolfe and Blanco out of position all year played big parts in those 2 guys leaving. All summer hr shove Peter Lowry down our throat and the minute we fond out he was a good player we never saw him again.

    Ives , this all leads me to ask to if Hamlett is your long lost brother.

  66. The travelling man says:

    Interesting, the Jersey guy would like to seem that he knows more about our owners than the people part of this club. Micromanaging is hardly Andrew’s style. More along the lines of I’ll buy it, screw with a working formula and then show up once a year to see how things are going.

  67. agnigrin says:

    To all Chicago fans and to A. Hauptman: Karma is a bitch isn’t it…

  68. Fireman451 says:

    “Yes it is”
    – Juan Carlos Osorio

  69. Chris in Belfast says:

    Do you understand, though, that Ives can’t name names when it comes to sources, or they’ll very quickly cease to be sources?

  70. Chris in Belfast says:

    There’s something to be said about Denis being able to actually form the team he wants as players move on. His formation choices, and thus his squad choices were severely restricted by his personnel. He didn’t have much choice but to play Blanco and McBride when they’re healthy, and that effects the way he had to construct the team and the kind of game he has to play.

    Maybe with a few people gone he’d be able to get different people in and actually run a system he wants. Oh well, we’ll never know now.

  71. Chris in Belfast says:

    While I agree that Rolfe is better in the middle playing as a marauding striker, I think that playing him out wide made him a MUCH better player as regards his feel for the game and how to work with his teammates.

  72. huddalis says:

    ives must be busy working on a new post about how CJ and McBride freshly committing to the Fire is a sign of certain doom.

  73. dabull says:

    Of course. Its a definite sign of Hauptman meddling in team affairs. He should definitely stay out of things like this. Who in their right mind would want experienced, decorated players such as these two on their team? Crazy Hauptman, is he ever gonna learn?. ‘Just win baby!’

  74. DDT5583 says:

    yes, I understand that, but you still have to take all such things with a grain of salt. This time, we didn’t even get a “sources close to…” or a “a person involved in…”

  75. paul says:

    Talent is good but 2 Conference finals and a La Liga final is not bad, about what would be expected. Short of 2 dice toss shoot outs, Hamlett could have one 2 finals. This is an idiotic decision and will cost the Fire, especially if the new coach is someone like Armas. Now Marsch I could go for.

  76. paul says:

    OOPs, that’s won two finals

  77. C-note says:

    I was shocked that PN went back in the game, bandaged up as he was.

  78. C-note says:

    L.M.F.A.O. Out loud. Again.

  79. C-note says:

    Ives – clearly this is a hot issue. I agree that DH had to cope with injuries and had strong road records. Your history speaks for itself on research and sources.
    My specific questions are:
    In the Eastern Conference final 08 how did DH make his sub calls – why did he wait to put Pappa in? Pappa had a shot on goal within about a minute of entering the match. Isay more time for Pappa might have made the difference in that game. ( More Pappa and less Mapp that year and that conf. Final might have been in Chgo.)

    What was the benefit of playing Rolfe at mid, instead of Fwd? At some points in games Blanco would be way in front of BMB on the field… So then couldn’t CR have also had some time in that Forward spot?

    What was DH doing and what was Baky doing to either build tension or just explode? How did that go wrong?

    How much was Conde for JCO or how much was Conde anti DH?
    Conde made his public apology, was his T.O. Or Randy Moss like behavior rooted in not believing in DH?

    If Klopas had been coach instead of DH would the Fire have a championship or two now?

  80. says:

    He was playing after the collision for a while. He’d have been a far better option than Brandon Prideaux.

  81. says:

    “How many of you have posted on here after being asked to do so by the Fire?”

    WTF are you talking about?

  82. says:

    Here are the Hamlett rules:

    1) CBs must not cross midfield.

    2) Holding mids must not approach within 35 yards of the opposite goal.

    3) Blanco must play as our loan striker.

    4) Play long balls to McBride as if he is the type of player who is good at that.

    5) Don’t use attacking players to take PKs, use defenders.

    6) Never show up for “Coach’s Corner” events with season ticket holders.

    7) Attack your teams All star defender at half time.

    8) Always play Rolfe at RM even though he’s really bad at that position.

    9) Throw ins must be done AYSO style (thrown up the line as far as possible).

    10) Corner kicks are a time to try something “wacky” like passing the ball 45 yards back to a defender!! LOL fun!

    11) The keeper must always kick the ball down field, never roll it out.

    12) Boring soccer is good soccer.

    13) USOC is not worth playing.

  83. Toby says:

    While that may be true, it didn’t help Rolfe with the USMNT nor did it help the Fire by limiting his scoring opportunities inside the box. I suppose you could do that with almost any player by making a midfielder like Banner into a defender but then Banner got burnt badly in NE and almost cost us the first round of the playoffs. I really don’t fault Banner for that, though, because he was out of position (perhaps by necessity but he was still out of his natural position as was Rolfe).

  84. khan says:

    I’m of the view that I’m saddened at Hamlett’s departure from the FIRE. After all, he was among the first hires by Peter Wilt for the coaching staff.

    However, Denis simply didn’t do a good job in Chicago with the talent that was assembled. I won’t re-visit much of what others have posted here, but denis has made his share of mistakes in his first head coaching opportunity. While I wish Denis well in the future, he HAD to go.

  85. adam says:

    no i like:

    “Yes it is.”


  86. Fireman451 says:

    Brilliant reply. I’m not sure how Deadbull gets any karma out of this since your weak ass club has nothing to do with this coaching change . . . . unless of course you want to hire another ex-Fire coach (hence the logical karma comment nimrod). Since it worked out so well for you last time, feel free to sign Denis.

    Congrats on Erik Soler.

  87. Jeremy FIRE says:

    This article is ridiculous. Ives, come on. I like the site usually but Hauptman is far from an overbearing owner. And the entire premise for this leaves out many, many key points about his short coaching career.

  88. Jeremy FIRE says:

    *Hamlett’s short coaching career ^^