The Chicago Fire have parted ways with head coach Frank Klopas and president of soccer operations Javier Leon just three days after their season came to an end. The move comes after the Fire lost 5-1 in their season finale, a match they needed to win to make the playoffs, and represents a major shift for a team that has had Klopas as technical director or head coach since 2008.
Klopas and Leon both joined the club in 2008, and Klopas moved from technical director to head coach in 2011. He helped lead the team to the playoffs last year, but the Fire were bounced in the play-in round. The hope was that they would build upon their hot finish and playoff appearance this year, but a 2-7-2 start to the season doomed them. Acquiring MVP candidate Mike Magee in June helped turn the team around, but it wasn't enough to land Chicago in the postseason, which brought an end to the Klopas and Leon era at Toyota Park.
Whoever takes over in Chicago will have a tough decision to make: continue building upon what they have or tear the team apart and go young. The Fire don't have many young players, with no regulars under the age of 24 and Austin Berry, Sean Johnson, Dilly Duka and Alex making up a "young" core of players in their mid-20s.
Chicago's age is not really a surprise, considering the Fire have an almost non-existent academy that needs to be jump-started and their player acquisitions under Klopas have trended older, but it puts the next man in a pickle. Does he try to supplement the current squad or focus on building a younger, most sustainable foundation?
Jesse Marsch has been the first name linked to the Fire job, and Bob Bradley will likely be rumored at some point considering his past success there and impending unemployment, but as of yet, there is nothing concrete since Chicago's search has just begun.