Frank Klopas will return as the Chicago Fire’s head coach in 2024, sources familiar with the situation confirm to MIR97 Media. The Greek-born Fire legend will be promoted from interim coach to permanent coach for the second time in his career.
Georg Heitz and Sebastian Pelzer’s decision to turn to Klopas is quite a surprising one. Klopas said in the fall that taking the first team coaching role earlier in the year was “not something [he] had wanted,” but after the search was narrowed down to three candidates, the staff settled on a return for the club’s longtime servant.
Heitz opted for a Klopas return rather than a higher-profile candidate, and the change of heart from Klopas is somewhat shocking, especially considering the number of times throughout 2023 that he deferred questions regarding his interest in transitioning to a head coaching role going forward. When an offer was on the table, though, he took it and is now back in a position he previously held for two full seasons from 2012 to 2013. As someone familiar with the players and environment, Klopas brings familiarity and expertise within the league despite his previous hesitations on taking the job.
Klopas holds a 58-30-50 record across his several stints as head coach of the Fire, but could only muster an 11-6-14 tally in his most recent go-around in 2023. Under Klopas, last season’s Fire team had a points-per-game of just 1.27, considerably lower than in his previous years in the role, namely 1.59 in 2011, 1.58 in 2012, and 1.53 in 2013. The league has changed significantly since his last appointment, as David Beckham was MLS’ leading star and Pavel Pardo was at the heart of the Fire’s midfield.
The expectation now is that fellow club legends C.J. Brown and Zach Thornton will remain in their positions on the coaching staff, as well as Nikolaos Kostenoglou and Theodoros Antonopoulos, who Klopas brought in over the summer. Since Klopas ended up being the hire in the end, there is no reason to believe that transfer dealing ongoing behind the scenes would be any different. Coaching candidates were briefed on potential new signings, including the completed trade for New York’s Tom Barlow.
For Heitz and the rest of the sporting staff, though, the pressure is now on. Favoring Klopas over a more ambitious hire could work, but it could also backfire. Heitz is under growing pressure from the fanbase after four successive playoff-less seasons, which now grant the Fire the ignominy of the league’s second-longest-ever drought, as well as a roster that has shown very little progress in those four years.
“For me, we are right there,” Klopas told MIR97 Media in October concerning the club’s lack of success in recent seasons. “I think there’s been incredible changes to the club, changes that were needed to put ourselves in the stage where all the other teams are, especially now next year with the performance center. And now we just have to look at the roster and see how do we improve. There’s no secret, we need to get better.”
Even with a roster rebuild, Klopas has his work cut out for him. There’s plenty that needs to be done for this team to be a competitor and a long way to go both on and off the field. Only time will tell if it can be done.