Chicago fire midfielder Maren Haile-Selassie reacts after scoring a goal in the third minute of his team's 2-1 victory over St. Louis in the Open Cup on May 9 in Bridgeview. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Chicago fire midfielder Maren Haile-Selassie reacts after scoring a goal in the third minute of his team's 2-1 victory over St. Louis in the Open Cup on May 9 in Bridgeview. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pro Sports Report | Another Klopas era begins in Bridgeview

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

The third Frank Klopas era opened with a bang in Bridgeview.

Klopas was promoted May 8 after the Chicago Fire axed Ezra Hendrickson and the next night the team beat St. Louis, 2-1, in the Round of 32 of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in front of an announced crowd of 4,371 at SeatGeek Stadium.

There may be hard times ahead for Klopas and the Fire but, for one night, all was well in the world.

“It was a special night,” he said. “I don’t have any dark hair anymore; by the end, I’ll have zero. But it was really special because when I look on the bench, and I have [assistant coaches] C.J. Brown – that we played together – Zach Thornton, you know, these are legends of the club.

KLOPAS

Frank Klopas, hired as the Chicago Fire coach on May 8, won his first game the next night, 2-1, against St. Louis at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview. Photo by Jeff Vorva

“And there so many people that care. Knowing that Jesse Marsch was here, Chris Armas, Logan Pause, Evan Whitfield — who works also for the club. They came and it was really something special, because they came in the locker room. These are all guys that have put on this jersey and they’re great players, they meant so much.”

The Fire faces Austin on the road at 8 p.m. on May 24 in the Round of 16.

While the Open Cup is not a part of the Major League Soccer season, it’s still important to Klopas.

“I had the video team put together a little video, 45 seconds, for the players to understand what this means to us,” Klopas said. “It’s us, Kansas City and Seattle that have won four U.S. Open Cups, and the video highlights the ones that we won. And in the end, it says ‘2023.’ And I told the guys, the journey has started already. This is the second game. I said, ‘Hey, let’s make history and lift one together with the Cup.’’’

Klopas has held several positions with the Fire, including head coach, interim coach, technical director, team ambassador and broadcaster.

Maren Haile-Selassie scored in the third minute and Fabien Herbers scored in the 75th to give the Fire a two-goal lead. St. Louis prevented the shutout with a goal in stoppage time.

Defender Wyatt Omsberg said it was a wild 24 hours leading into the battle.

“There’s never going to be a good time for these types of things,” he said of the coaching change. “But I think in some ways, yeah, it was kind of nice to just be like ‘alright, we got a game, let’s just turn the page and focus on the game.’

“And all the players are so comfortable with Frank and the rest of the staff. We know we’re in really good hands.”

Added Herbers: “It’s part of the business and we have to keep going as players. We have to adjust to the new situation, and I think the guys did a good job. We didn’t play super pretty but I think we put in the work, and we showed the fans what the team is about and that we still have some fire left in us.”

 

KLOPAS FIRE FILE
The positions Frank Klopas has held with the Chicago Fire over the years:

1998-1999 — Player

2011-2013 — Head coach (34-25-17)

2016-2019 — Color analyst

2020-2021—Assistant coach and interim coach (2-3-1)

2022 — Assistant coach

2023 — Assistant coach and interim coach

SHAQIRI scaled

The Fire’s Xherdan Shaqiri gets by St. Louis’s Aziel Jackson on May 9, Photo by Jeff Vorva

 

Get ’em to the Geek
SeatGeek Stadium will host the Major League Rugby championship final on July 8. Shaquille O’Neal will perform as DJ Diesel before the game and the Dropkick Murphys will perform at its conclusion.

The Chicago Hounds will host the festivities, which will include the Dawg Town Block Party fan festival kicking things off at 10:30 a.m. The DJ Diesel concert begins at 1:30 p.m. and the game starts at 3 p.m. The Dropkick Murphys are scheduled to hir the stage at 5:30 p.m.  for a 90-minute set.

 

Red Stars fall again
It was a strange night for Alyssa Naeher.

The world-class goalie made her 150th National Women’s Soccer League appearance and came up with her 500th career save on May 12.

But she also had an own-goal against her and gave up two more in the 3-0 loss to Louisville on the road.

Chicago fell to 1-5-1 and are in last place in the 12-team league. Louisville (1-2-4) won its first game of the year.

The Stars were outshot 16-12 overall and had an 11-4 disadvantage with shots on goal.

They visit defending NWSL champion Portland at 4 p.m. May 21 at Providence Park.

 

FIRE II ties Huntsville City
Harold Osorio scored a goal in his second straight match in the Chicago Fire II’s 1-1 tie with Huntsville City FC May 12 in an MLS NEXT Pro match at SeatGeek Stadium.

The Fire is 2-2-3 as it won its first two games, lost the next two and tied three straight.

The Fire II hits the road for a 6 p.m. May 21 game against Toronto.

 

Hounds lose a thriller
The Chicago Hounds (1-10-0) gave up the winning try in the 77th minute of a 21-20 setback to the New York Ironworkers (6-6-0) in a Major League Rugby battle May 14 at SeatGeek Stadium.

The road gets rougher for the Hounds as they visit Seattle (9-2-0) at 9:30 p.m. May 20. The Seawolves beat Chicago 27-5 in Bridgeview on March 26.

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