As reported yesterday, both Mike Matkovich, the assistant coach, and fitness coach Alvaro Briones were fired. With no word still on the status of Carlos De Los Cobos and whether he will retain his head coaching position, Fire fans are left to wonder the exact reasons behind the firings. Follow me after the break for more.
As I stated the other day, anyone can be considered vulnerable when a team has a disappointing season. To me, I can make sense of the firing of Briones. We had players constantly hurt, all the time it seemed. While I am not going to blame all injuries on Briones, as injuries can happen normally, I do call in to question the number of strains we had this year. It seemed like we couldn't go a day in practice or play a game without someone having some sort of muscle strain, which caused them to miss time. Again, I understand lots of factors can cause injuries, but I am wondering if some of them had to do with the preparation and work performed by Briones. Another factor to consider here are the very tough practices that CDLC has been reported as holding. It is widely known that he is very demanding in practice, and is considered a tough practice coach, at least more so than most of his peers. If Briones was not able to or failed to adjust to this heavier workload, I believe that may also have had an impact in not retaining Briones.
The firing of Mike Matkovich is much more puzzling. Frank Klopas had this to say regarding the firings of both men:
This was a difficult decision for the club to make. Everyone at the Fire has tremendous respect for Mike and Alvaro, however, we have decided to go in another direction.
Again, as I had said yesterday, it's not out of the realm of reason that an assistant coach would be fired after a disappointing campaign. Usually, the head coach goes as well, but right now it would seem like CDLC is in place for next year. At least for the time being. In the case of Mike, I do feel badly for him. I thought he did a fine job, but there was obviously a reason for Frank Klopas to ultimately make the decision to go in a different direction. So, this begs the question: why fire Matkovich?
First of all, it could be that Frank has decided to let both CDLC and Matkovich go to build from the ground up. He may be looking at head coaching options right now, and is not ready to axe CDLC yet until he has better defined his off season plan. Obviously, if he is looking at going in a different direction for head coach, most new, incoming head coaches would prefer to hand pick their assistant. Even if a new head coach would decline to do that, an open position of assistant coach would allow flexibility after a head coaching hire for Frank to fill the position with a candidate he feels would be best for the Fire and the new head coach's system. That's one possibility.
Another is something we have discussed in the past on this very website. This discussion mentions one C.J. Brown, the recently retired Chicago legend. We had discussed him continuing his post MLS career as a coach with the Fire. Although, in the discussion he is mentioned as a head coach, thinking on it a bit more, it might make more sense for the Fire to bring C.J. Brown on as assistant. The firing of Matkovich could prove exactly that - a starting block for C.J. to climb the ranks A piece from the Fire's website echoes this thought so, I am not the only one thinking of this as a possibility. Whether CDLC stays or goes, maybe Frank figures the time is right to give C.J. the shot he wants.
A third possibility is that I am reading way too much into this, and for whatever reason, Frank feels CDLC has earned the opportunity to coach the team another year, and for some reason unknown to us, he doesn't think Mike has earned that privilege. It could be a case of Frank letting go of a couple of personnel he thought had not earned the right to coach with the Fire for another year.
Definitely some interesting ideas to kick around for discussion. I do wish Mike and Alvaro the best in the future. I was going to include a poll, but I have so many questions to put into it that it would be ridiculously long. Questions such as: Do you agree with the firings? Do you think C.J. should be given a chance to coach? Do you think CDLC should lose his job since Mike did? Who would you like to see replace Mike, if it is not C.J.? Why do you think the firings happened? As you can see, it's kind of hard to include that in a poll. I am hoping we get some good discussion on these topics. What are your thoughts?