Fire owner says playoffs still possible
Chicago Fire owner Andrew Hauptman said Friday he believes his team still can make a run at the MLS playoffs and reiterated his support for technical director Frank Klopas.
Klopas took over as interim coach after the team fired Carlos de los Cobos on Monday. He will guide the team for the first time Saturday night when the Fire hosts Seattle Sounders FC (7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet) at Toyota Park.
"I'm very encouraged by what I've seen from Frank, having taken the reins just a few days ago at our request," Hauptman said while sitting at forward Cristian Nazarit's locker at Toyota Park. "I feel the team is still in a position to make a real run for it the rest of the season, and that's really ultimately what this is about, giving the club the best chance to make a run the rest of the year."
Hauptman said it was hard to let de los Cobos go given his personal feelings for the coach.
"We needed to make a change and it's unfortunate," Hauptman said. "It's the way it goes sometimes. I really wish Carlos well. He's a friend of mine, someone I feel close to, someone I felt really did his best here. Sometimes it's just the way the game works."
Hauptman said he it's unlikely the team will find a new coach before the end of the season. Eric Wynalda is rumored to be interested, and Preki has been mentioned as a candidate also.
Hauptman said it's unlikely Klopas would become coach on a permanent basis.
"Our inclination is that's not the case, but you never know. I think certainly he has the capacity to do it, but I brought him on specifically to oversee the soccer side of things, be technical director, and he's going to remain technical director no matter what happens through this year."
Hauptman reiterated his confidence in Klopas and his vision for the club as technical director.
"His intention wasn't to be head coach, but I think he also believes in himself, and I think he has a clear vision of what the team needs," the owner said. "I give him a lot of kudos for having the courage to step up and say, 'Yeah, I can do this, I will do this. I owe it to this club to do it.'
"And that's why I have Frank with this club to begin with. He is that guy. He's the kind that doesn't shy away from anything."
The team is in the midst of a nine-game winless streak.
"It's important to note that every game but one we've been incredibly competitive," Hauptman said. "Almost every single one of those games we could have won, and in same ways it makes it harder to make a change."