Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com
By ANTHONY ZILIS
Chicago Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas said Tuesday that the evaluation process of Carlos de los Cobos, who was fired on Monday, began at the end of the 2010 season, when the Fire failed to make the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.
On Monday evening it was decided that de los Cobos would be let go after beginning 2011 season with a 1-4-6 record, third-worst in MLS.
The Fire also announced that Klopas would take over as interim head coach, taking charge of the team he helped assemble.
"Obviously I have a responsibility. A majority of the players that are in the roster are in here because of myself, Mike Jeffries (director of player personnel), and of course our coach," Klopas said at Tuesday's press conference.
"In my situation, there's pressure to win with a team like this because the expectations are always high. That's not something that affects me. I know this group and I believe in the players that we have have talent."
Klopas said there was an opportunity for him to join former head coach Denis Hamlett's coaching staff when Hamlett was hired in 2008, but Klopas was hired as the Fire’s technical director that season and hasn't thought about coaching since.
This timing of this situation, however, called for someone who was involved with the team on a day-to-day basis, Klopas said. He'll likely hold the post until the end of the season.
"Moving forward, it's not the time to bring someone new in to tinker with the players with a lot of the things that are going on, and it's a lot of new players that need consistency and continuity," Klopas said.
"I know the players very well, and I think that transition would be the smoothest one of all at this moment. Obviously we are going to look to put a list of candidates as well and start that process."
Klopas has brought in 17 new players since the end of last season, six of whom started the Fire’s most recent game against the Earthquakes. Now he’s charged with leading those players.
The Fire began the season with a 3-5-2 formation, but have shifted to a 4-4-2, and a 4-1-4-1. Klopas was non-committal when asked what he would use going forward.
"With the players that we have, I'm going to play the system that best suits my players," he said.
Still, he did vaguely outline a few areas he plans to improve, including staying compact defensively, defending set pieces, and knowing how to break teams down on a game-to-game basis.
"It's not preseason, where you can come in and experiment with new things," Klopas said. "I think the important thing is continuity with the group, and just tweak certain things and fine-tune the small things."