Fire owner Hauptman gives Klopas stamp of approval

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — When Chicago Fire owner Andrew Hauptman and his staff begin looking for a full-time head coach this offseason, they’ll be looking for a few things.

“You want really the kind of leader with the kind of technical and soccer IQ that can tactically put the club in the best position,” Hauptman told reporters at Toyota Park on Friday.

“You want someone who has a good sense as to the personality of the team; someone who knows the personality of the players both individually and as a collective; [someone who] can really move the needle forward; and you want someone who leaves no stone unturned, who really guarantees that the preparation is there day in day out.”

If those truly are the qualities Hauptman’s looking for in his next full-time manger, he won’t have to search very far. In fact, judging by his comments, he might not need to search at all. The right man could already be in place: interim head coach Frank Klopas (pictured above). 

“He doesn’t shy away from anything,” Hauptman said of Klopas. “He’s incredibly authentic, he is who is he is, he knows his limitations, he wants to maximize the impact of the other people on the team and he doesn’t sort of stand in an island.”

“I think he has some special sauce about him,” Hauptman added. “As soon as he stepped into this role, you could just see some of the magic that he has come out. You could see some of that transformation and I believe the players really feel that, too.”

Hauptman’s confidence is rooted in his belief that Klopas can effectively man-manage every player on Chicago’s roster. He likes Klopas’ direct, get-to-the-point manner, one that shouldn’t leave any players unaware of where they stand with the interim coach. 

“He can sit down and say, ‘In one way, shape or another, I’ve either brought you here or I’ve kept you here, and here are all the reasons why,’” Hauptman said. “He can articulate those reasons and I think he has a very good handle on each of their skill sets and their capabilities and I think that’s going to service us well — could service us better than anyone else.”

Of course, just because Hauptman has confidence in him doesn’t mean Klopas will land the full-time gig. That will be determined by results on the field and whether or not the Fire legend actually wants the job. But that’s getting ahead of things. For now, Hauptman’s just happy to have his man in charge and working hard.   

“As Frank said to you guys [on Tuesday], and I kind of admire him for this, he said, ‘I know I’m going to do everything in my power [as coach],’” Hauptman said. “The reason I like having him there is because I know that too, I know that about him.”

“As far as the future I don’t really know,” Hauptman added. “I’m going to leave it to [managing director] Javier León and [director of player personnel] Mike Jeffries and Frank to collectively map out their game plan.”

Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at sam.h.stejskal@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.