Fire make Frank Klopas new coach

Updated: November 3, 2011, 11:32 PM ET
Associated Press

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Frank Klopas was picked as the Chicago Fire's head coach on Thursday, five months after he got the job on an interim basis when the Major League Soccer club got off to a bad start.

Fire owner Andrew Hauptman said Klopas is a great fit for the club.

"We knew he bleeds for the organization, we know he knows the league inside and out (and) he has the respect of the players," he said.

Klopas, the 45-year-old team technical director, added on-field responsibilities in late May after a 1-4-6 start led to the firing of coach Carlos de los Cobos. Klopas guided the Fire to a 8-5-10 record and kept the team in MLS playoff contention into the season's final week.

Chicago went 7-2-1 in its final 10 league games and made a run to the U.S. Open Cup title game before falling to Seattle.

"Happily, when Frank took over there was an immediate culture shift," Hauptman said. "Frank stepped in and really made a meaningful impact."

Klopas, the sixth head coach in the team's 14-year history, is the first ex-Fire player to coach the team. Terms were not disclosed, but a team spokesman said Klopas will likely be giving up front-office responsibilities, with a replacement at technical director to be determined.

"I feel very confident and I don't say this in a cocky way," said Klopas, a Greek immigrant who starred at a Chicago high school and later played for the defunct Chicago Sting. "I believe in myself and I will work very hard every day to try to get better. At this level, it's all about results, I know that. But I'm in a position with a lot of good people who are here to help me and support me."

Klopas played for the Kansas City Wiz in 1996 and ended his MLS career in Chicago in 1999. He scored in a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew in the 1998 U.S. Open Cup final.

A native of Greece, he signed with the Sting out of high school and scored 62 goals in 140 Major Indoor Soccer League games from 1983-1988. He represented the United States at the 1988 Summer Olympics and was on the U.S. roster for the 1994 World Cup. He has played for various Greek teams.

Following his 1999 retirement, he spent one season as a Fire assistant. From 2004-06, he served as head coach of the MISL's Chicago Storm from 2004-06.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press