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Tuesday, May 21

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Fire Wed Jun 01 2011

Fire Moves Forward With New Coach

Thumbnail image for fire crest.jpgWith a third of the MLS season gone and the Chicago Fire still only at one win, head coach Carlos de los Cobos was let go Sunday. De los Cobos was coach for just over one season, with last year's campaign only the second time the Fire didn't make the MLS Cup Playoffs since their creation in 1998.

This year, Chicago (1-4-6) finds itself eighth among nine teams in the Eastern Conference with nine points. Even in MLS, with a playoff system renowned for its guest-list generosity, the current standing is becoming too big a hole to climb out of. As a result, club technical director Frank Klopas has stepped in as the interim head coach.

So how did the Fire get to this point? Actually, they're not playing that poorly, at least on the whole.

The six draws should make it clear that they're playing competitive soccer, and so far in the season, they've only lost one game by more than one goal. They've also only been shut out once, in a 0-0 draw against MLS newcomers Vancouver.

Simply put, they're scoring plenty of goals, but have yet to find the defensive prowess to get those tallies to stand up.

But a franchise with the Fire's history of success has high expectations. As a team that started out winning the U.S. Open Cup and the MLS Cup in their first year, the bar has always been set high for the Fire. Repeated playoff appearances cemented that as not just a goal, but an expectation, for any coach that had the reins.

De los Cobos got the benefit of the doubt after missing the playoffs last year, but with an offseason to change up his personnel and style, it was pretty clear that the Fire had to start the year showing they would compete for the Cup this year. But with one win in 11 games, his squad has drastically underachieved.

Klopas has a tough game coming up to try and right the ship when Chicago hosts the Seattle Sounders on Saturday night at Toyota Park in Bridgeview. Seattle is currently third in the Western Conference at 5-4-5, though they are a lot less dangerous away from their home crowds of 35,000-plus devoted fans.

Maybe home field advantage and a fresh start under Klopas will be enough for the Fire to avoid extending their winless streak to a franchise-record 10 games.

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