Key for Yallop: Lay down a solid foundation
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The best way for new Chicago Fire coach Frank Yallop to succeed is if new director of soccer Frank Yallop succeeds.
In Yallop the Fire has someone with a reputation as a mild-mannered players' coach. The Fire has someone with a proven record as a coach and no record in the front office. It has someone who won MLS championships in 2001 and 2003, but, with the exception of the 2012 Supporters' Shield with San Jose, a bit of a dry spell of late.
As director of soccer, Yallop must lay the foundation for success in Chicago.
So the biggest question is, how can Director of Soccer Yallop help Coach Yallop?
Director of Soccer Yallop will oversee the academy, which already has a record of success and could provide two to four homegrown players for Coach Yallop this winter. You can bet the new guy already has done the pretty simple research required to know that he's got something good to work with in the academy, maybe even talked to his friends around the league to get their opinions.
Director of Soccer Yallop must implement a plan under which the Fire's soccer side, including Coach Yallop, will operate.
And of course he must lead the effort to find the players who will help Coach Yallop win a MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup, whether they be with other MLS teams, in the college ranks or in foreign leagues.
He must reverse the paralysis by analysis that has taken hold of the Fire front office in recent years.
That is where he can fix what hasn't worked, where he can raise the level of competence in the organization.
Fortunately, Yallop has a lot of good soccer people already in place to work with. Like Coach Yallop's roster, Director of Soccer Yallop's front office just needs some tweaking, such as a second-in-command to help Yallop oversee the off-field operations, especially during the season.
And Director of Soccer Yallop must be able to convince owner Andrew Hauptman to provide him the resources and freedom to do what needs to be done. Most visibly but not exclusively, that means finding players who get the league's designated-player label not just because of their transfer fee but because they are worth a big salary.
"We've talked about this," Yallop said Thursday. "Andrew has, over the years, put a lot of money into the player side of this club and he's not afraid to do that, and I think that's important to know as a technical director that if the right player does become available and it's the right player for the Fire, then we'll do that."
There are many Fire fans and some in the organization who think this last part might be the hardest for Director of Soccer Yallop. But Hauptman has long bristled at the "cheap" label and suggested at Thursday's introductory news conference that he will do what's necessary to win. In some respects this is a clean slate for Hauptman as well as the club.
If Hauptman balks, it will be Director of Soccer Yallop's job to pound on the table and demand Hauptman step up. How well Yallop pounds the table might very well determine whether he succeeds in both of his jobs.
Follow Orrin on Twitter @orrin_schwarz
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