Who is the Next Chicago Fire Coach?

Nelson-Rodriquez-Chicago-Fire-MLS-GM

Does Fire GM Nelson Rodriguez’s upcoming coaching decision dwarf the rest on the organization’s needs?

New Chicago Fire General Manager Nelson Rodriguez speaks to the press for the first time officially this Sunday. Media speculates that a great deal of this conversation revolves around choosing a coach for the 2015 season.

It’s a decision which Rodriguez has stated he wants made by Thanksgiving, so the clock is ticking.

With a lot of rumors floating around, and with Rodriguez’s own United States Soccer Federation history fueling the guesses, the OTF writers pool took some guesses on who the next Fire coach might be…

UPDATE: Fire announce new coach. You can read more about him on OTF here

In the discussion, but not in the article…

  • Chris Armas (Former Fire midfielder and assistant coach, current NYRB assistant coach)
  • Brad Freidel (USMNT Goalie, current Fox Sports commentator)
  • Mike Petke (Former NYRB Supporters Shield winner)
  • Logan Pause (Fire veteran, current assistant coach)
  • Tab Ramos (USMNT icon, current USMNT U20 Coach)
  • Larry Sunderland (Chicago Fire Director of Player Development/Academy Director)
  • Eric Wynalda (National team player, coach at Cal and Atlanta Silverbacks, FOX commentator)

And now some others worth consideration…

Louis Bennett

Resume: English-American soccer coach currently the head coach of Marquette University men’s soccer team.

I advocated for Louis on multiple occasions in previous OTF roundtable discussions, so it should be no surprise I still think he’d be a good fit.

He has been coaching the college game for over 20 years in Milwaukee (first at UWM and for the past decade at Marquette). He won at both schools (overall record of 162-127-35), visited the NCAA tournament over a half-dozen times, and has placed over 30 players in the professional ranks to date. That tells me that he knows how to win, and can develop players well. Both traits are needed by the Fire these days.

The drawback to hiring someone like Bennett is that he is not a splashy hire, and with former Akron Zip Caleb Porter scuffling a bit in Portland, I’m sure it will keep the fans skeptical of the club’s performance and financial motives. (T.J. Zaremba)

Brian Bliss

Resume: Current technical director and interim manager of Chicago Fire, also serving as an assistant coach for the United States U-20 national team. Bliss previously served as the technical director of the Columbus Crew for six seasons, whose teams earned two Supporters’ Shields and one MLS Cup.

Let’s address the most awkward one, shall we?  Brian Bliss, who is currently the Fire interim coach, has made statements that hint he wouldn’t mind taking up the head coach job full time.  Bliss’ record isn’t outstanding, but neither is the talent he’s coaching. Regardless of wins and losses, the Fire found a semblance of an identity under his oversight while the local press and players alike have enjoyed the change-of-pace Bliss has brought to the club.

His pressers have been insightful and transparent, and players have used their media opportunities to express their pleasure in his “detail-oriented” nature and the way he clearly communicates what he expects from players. Direction and accountability were two things that were lacking during in previous Fire eras and we’d be lucky to see more of it in the future. The question remains is weather Bliss is a legitimate head coach, and what sort of partnership will occur if BB goes back to his old role of TD and a new head coach is called in to take his place next year. (Brian Battle)

Arne Friedrich

Resume: German international, former Chicago Fire defender, currently the assistant manager of Germany U-18 team.

There is a rumor out there that NYC is going to dump Jason Kreis. If he is available, he would be a great choice to become coach of the Fire. He has a track record of success. He knows the league up and down, after having been a player and a coach.

I’m not so sure why NYC would be so quick to get rid of Kreis. If he’s not available, I would like to see the Fire make a play for Arne Friedrich. As a former Fire player, he automatically gets buy-in from the segment of fans who believe that a former player is always the best option. He has played at the highest possible level, which provides instant credibility with the players. His best attribute is his intelligence. He sees the game at a very deep level. Arne was the Fire player who sat at our table at the Fire Luncheon and he is, by far, the most intelligent and well-spoken athlete I have ever met. He’s already gone through the coaching training and he is an assistant for the German U-18 Team, so coaching the Fire gives him an opportunity to take a head coaching job.

If you believe that a soccer team takes on the persona of the coach, then a Friedrich-led Fire would eventually become a pretty attractive team to watch. (George Gorecki)

Miguel Herrera 

Resume: Mexican footballer and manager referred to as “Piojo”. Managed Atlante, Veracruz, Estudiantes Tecos, reached two finals with Monterrey, two finals and one win with Club América. Led Mexico to World Cup berth as interim coach and led El Tri out of the World Cup group stage.

I was on this bandwagon even before he was let go by the FMF. He would supply the splash that Hauptman is looking for and would bring a ton of passion to a side that really needs it. He has been successful in both Liga MX with Club America and helped awaken the sleeping giant that was the Mexican National Team.

However, there are questions that come along with Herrera. They include: 

  • Can he adjust to MLS, especially their budget constraints and style of play?
  • Does he always have one foot out the door looking for the next step back up the coaching ladder (likely back in Liga MX)?
  • And finally, will his energy eventually run thin and burn out? (T.J. Zaremba)

Miguel-Herrera-Comic-Book

Jason Kreis

Resume: Real Salt Lake was the crown jewel of the MLS’s “moneyball” movement. Kreis traded his success into an opportunity to learn from Emirates Big Boys before being saddled with a name-heavy, talent-shallow New York City Football Club this year.

Kries, once a diamond in the 4-4-2 rough, finds himself out of his depth in the big pond of pro soccer. He left RSL as the rest of his Front Office support was also evacuating, and landed overseas to learn from Manchester City’s all-knowing Emirate overlords. Unfortunately (or satisfyingly to some other purists) Kreis’s NYCFC project has failed to inspire on the field despite nifty jersey sales, and he may be looking for a new place to coach next year. After two-thirds of the RSL triumvirate have seen success with bigger budgets elsewhere (Garth Lagerway now GM in Seattle and Bill Manning now president of Toronto FC), one has to wonder how well JK would do if given free reign at a new club, or if his success was more tied to the institutional and collaborative know-how of RSL. (Brian Battle)

Marc Dos Santos

Resume: Portuguese-Canadian currently managing Ottawa Fury FC in the NASL. Previously the technical director of Desportivo Brasil, and head coach of the Montreal Impact in the D2 Pro League.

Another under the radar manager that the Fire should look into. He has been the only bench boss the Ottawa Fury have ever known. Dos Santos has taken them from an expansion side in 2013 to winning the NASL fall season in 2015. He is leaving Ottawa at the end of the season to seek opportunities in MLS — but where will he wind up? In watching his side, they are tactically sound every time out, especially on the defensive end, and he knows how to build a team from nothing to success. Sounds like where Chicago is right about now. (T.J. Zaremba)

One thought on “Who is the Next Chicago Fire Coach?

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

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