Chicago Fire head coach Frank Klopas has only acquired two new players this offseason, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been busy.
Klopas, who is currently at the MLS Player Combine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., took a two-week European scouting trip in December, traveling to Switzerland, Germany and Spain to look at players and network with other clubs and coaches.
“It was good,” Klopas told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “In Switzerland, I went to see three or four matches and I looked at some players. Then I had an opportunity to go to [German club] Stuttgart with [Fire midfielder and former Stuttgart captain] Pável Pardo and see one of the games against Bayern Munich. I also spent time in Spain with one of our partner clubs, Atlético Madrid, and saw a couple matches with their first team and second team. … It was overall a very good trip.”
Klopas spent the majority of his Europe trip in Madrid and came away duly impressed with the quality of Atlético’s first and second teams, as well as with the overall level of play in Spain.
“With the games that I saw, [there] was a very high level with very good players,” Klopas said. “They’re technically very sound, and I think that the players would fit in well within our team and in this league.”
Does that mean there could be some Iberian additions headed to Chicago?
“I spent time looking at some players playing in the first and second division there,” Klopas said, "but there’s nothing at this point where I can tell you that there’s something concrete.”
Klopas comments on Conde
FutbolMLS.com reported earlier this week that former Fire center back Wilman Conde is interested in returning to the league from Mexican club Atlas, where he signed following the 2010 season. The Fire still hold the MLS rights to the 29-year-old Conde, who joined Chicago in 2007 and made the 2009 MLS Best XI.
Klopas, who was not on the Fire’s staff when Conde was brought to Chicago, commented on the Colombian defender’s interest in rejoining the league on Thursday night.
“I have not spoken to Wilman, but he obviously has an interest in [coming back to MLS],” Klopas said. “I think he’s a solid player, a good player, but right now I can’t tell you much because he is under contract with his team in Mexico. It’s not like I have spoken to him and he has said to me ‘I want to come back.’ The stuff that you read, I read also.”
Percovich retained, Matkovich brought back as assistant coaches
The Fire announced on Friday that Leo Percovich and Mike Matkovich will be the team’s assistant coaches in 2012.
Percovich was brought in last offseason under former head coach Carlos de los Cobos. The Uruguayan stuck around as an assistant after de los Cobos was fired in May and will keep the same role in 2012.
Matkovich comes back to the Fire after spending 2009 and 2010 as an assistant at Toyota Park. The Chicago-area native, who coached the Fire reserves from 2001 to'06, was the US U-18 national team head coach from 2009 to last year.
Matkovich and Percovich worked together when both were assistants at Chivas USA in 2008.
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org