The Chicago Fire announced that Mike Matkovich and Leo Percovich will return to the club as Frank Klopas' assistant coaches for the 2012 season. Matkovich rejoins the Fire as an assistant coach, having previously served in the role for the club from 2009-10. The fact that Klopas is bringing Matkovich back on suggests that there was some kind of rift between Matkovich and former Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos. Chicago released Matkovich as the assistant coach at the end of the 2010 season. More on this after the break.
When I saw that Matkovich was spending 2011 as the Director of Coaching for the Chicago Fire Juniors-South and as an assistant coach for the club's Academy sides, I assumed that there was a mutual agreement that he was better suited for the player development side. After all Matkovich served as head coach of the U.S. Under 18 Men's National Team from 2009-11. He also was named the NSCAA's Coach of the Year in 2000 for his work with the Chicago Magic. After that he served as the head coach of the Chicago Fire PDL from 2002-06 Matkovich might have just the American youth development experience the team needs to help the under-21 players: Kellen Gulley, Victor Pineda, and Orr Barouch. Barouch is well on his way already but Pineda has a big year ahead of him. Gulley is coming off injury and will be serving his first year as soccer professional. This might even be a sign the Fire plan to sign more Home Grown/youthful players in the future.
From a local perspective, Matkovich hails from south suburban Frankfort, IL. This means we've got a south suburban guy as the assistant coach and a Chicago north side based head coach in Frank Klopas. It's pretty rare to see such local talent in these kind of positions but I love it. Both individuals are fully qualified. It's authentic and not a gimmick.
Leo Percovich returns to the club for a second year as an assistant coach. He is a former Copa Libertadores and Uruguayan First Division champion. A native of Montevideo, Uruguay, he served as a goalkeeper coach with the Colorado Rapids (2006-2007) and Chivas USA (2008-2009) before joining Toronto FC as an assistant coach in 2009. By all accounts he did a good job in 2011 and it's great to see him back with the club. Consistency is one of the many keys to success in MLS.