MLS- New York Red Bulls

Chicago Fire vs. NY Red Bulls: The feud, the details and the owner who can't let go

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It was one of the most interesting stories of the MLS off-season. Juan Carlos Osorio’s abrupt departure from the Chicago Fire to the New York Red Bulls and the subsequent feud that followed. It is a feud taken up by both team’s fans and waged by the teams, well at least one team.

You see, Chicago hasn’t let it go. More to the point, the Fire’s new owner, Andrew Hauptman, hasn’t let it go. Ever since Osorio said thanks, but no thanks to staying with the Fire, Hauptman has labled the Red Bulls, and Osorio specifically, as Public Enemy No. 1 in Chicago. According to multiple sources in MLS, Hauptman has told his team officials that the Fire will not do business of any kind with the Red Bulls.

While this shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise, Hauptman’s recent public declarations about his contempt for Osorio’s departure have kicked up some embers on a flame that looked like it might fade. However, in his attempt to discredit Osorio and portray him as a villain to a Fire fanbase that already thinks Osorio is the devil, Hauptman has opened the door to providing a clearer, and more accurate description of the circumstances surrounding Osorio departure from Chicago.

In multiple profiles on Hauptman written in Chicago newspapers recently, the Fire owner made reference to a clause in Osorio’s contract with the Fire that would have allowed Osorio to leave his job. In neither case did Hauptman bother to point out that the fact that Osorio did not exercise that option, and in fact, helped the Fire secure a compensation package that was higher than any paid for a departing coach in the history of MLS.

Yes, you read that right. Osorio’s contract with the Fire included a clause that would have allowed him to resign, and after 30 days, he would have been free to take a position with any other team in the world, MLS or otherwise. The poorly-constructed contract, which came courtesy of Chicago’s previous owners AEG, left the door open for Osorio to walk away.

After initially being denied permission to speak with the Red Bulls about the job vacated by former coach Bruce Arena, Osorio used the escape clause as a bargaining tool. What started as a mild interest in the Red Bulls position turned into a strong desire to leave Chicago as Hauptman’s handling of the situation left Osorio eager to leave the club. With the escape clause as the ideal bargaining chip, Osorio made it clear to Chicago. Either the Fire let him interview with the Red Bulls and let the Red Bulls pay compensation if they hired him, or he would walk away and Chicago would receive nothing upon him being hired by the Red Bulls.

The Fire relented and eventually negotiated a considerable compensation package with the Red Bulls that included cash (which some sources put at approximately $500,000), a major allocation ($300,000) and the Red Bulls first-round draft pick. A hefty price and a price that would not have been paid if Osorio had not felt a sense of obligation to see Chicago compensated.

Chicago accepted that compensation from the Red Bulls, but that didn’t stop the Fire, and specifically Hauptman, from pressing the league to investigate the Red Bulls for tampering. According to sources, MLS proceeded with an investigation, interviewing several of the parties involved in Osorio’s move to the Red Bulls. The league never did penalize the Red Bulls for the alledged tampering.

Perhaps the most ironic aspect of Chicago’s bitterness regarding Osorio’s departure is the fact that the circumstances surrounding the Fire’s courtship of Osorio from Colombian club Millonarios were just as, if not more, questionable than Osorio’s departure to the Red Bull. According to sources, Fire president John Guppy traveled to Colombia to meet with Osorio and watch his training sessions without ever speaking to anybody at Millonarios (and also spoke to Osorio about the Fire head coaching job before he had even fired Dave Sarachan). The Fire never asked for permission to speak to Osorio while he was still Millonarios coach nor did Chicago offer any compensation when Osorio was let out of his contract by Millonarios.

Not exactly the actions of a club that should be crying foul about tampering now, are they? If anything, some would call Osorio’s subsequent departure from the Fire to the Red Bulls a touch of karma. I know Millonarios fans would.

So what now? There is no what now, not when it comes to the Fire and Red Bulls. There is merely contempt and anymosity and while there is nothing wrong with a good old soccer feud, there is just something wrong about a feud not born out of on-field battles, but off-field disputes.

  • brett

    David Berger- >.< excellent addition to this topic….

    its been said 50 times….

    again, noone likes to address my example of this situation… assuming things didnt turn out the way they did, if Bob Knight were to have left IU to take a job at Purdue, i can promise you that IU fans would have a completely different outlook on Mr. Knight regardless of whether they got compensated for it…


  • brett

    while fire fans may make snide remarks from time to time about JCO, the topic was dead…. personally im happy with Hamlett… ive stood by the fact that if you dont want to be with the fire, theres the door…. doesnt mean i need to respect them if they drop us for a rival team


  • FC Uptown

    He’ll leave the Red Bulls the same way. He isn’t that great a coach anyways. . Had to be really tough coaching Blanco


  • Matt

    @Red Card

    I like the way you think. The nuclear option. Can you imagine the high-pitched whining that would emanate from Chicago if we were to do that?


  • tkozal

    Well, Hauptman, no Captain he…sounds like he is from the Tom Hicks school of football club ownership…


  • NJ Guy Stuck in DC

    JCO is a great coach and is a vast improvement for NYRB. They paid the price b/c they had to – JCO didn’t exercise the option so compensation was owed simple as that. Chicago can act in its own interests re: Conde and Marmol, however twisted. I am a little disturbed that JCO seems to be banking so many of his personnel decisions on the one hand that he showed when he negotiated with NYRB (Conde, Marmol, other Colombians). I sincerely hope he has a Plan B for the next transfer window.


  • Steve

    Who cares? Most people in Chicago have gotten over Osorio, it’s New York fans that seem to be cowering in the corner screaming stop picking on me.

    Osorio is gone we don’t care, but you’re stupid if you think we’re going to give you Conde, and Marmol. That’s sports, that’s life, they’re good players we have contracts with and we’re going to try to keep them or get whatever we can from them.


  • George

    I am a Fire fan and I have this to say about the whole thing….

    IF the option is indeed true, then AEG and the Fire lied to us fans and that pisses me off….however, there is (of course) no mention of a source for the claim that there was an option in the contract….I find it funny and quite odd that there was this option…why? Because who in there right mind would NOT use the option and give a team in the SAME CONFERENCE the compensation package that the Fire got?

    So what you are saying basically is that Osario decided not to use his option, and screwed over his NEW team by forcing them to give compensation to his FORMER team and COMPETITION? That just doesn’t make sense.


  • papa bear

    Posted by: Dante | April 10, 2008 at 04:49 PM

    I will give you $5 for every real Fire fan who supports Guppy. I hope you bring money with you because you won’t end up with enough for bus fare.

    Posted by: Struthers | April 10, 2008 at 09:27 PM

    Oh the irony of someone mocking someone else’s spelling and spelling the word wrong herself. Brilliant.

    Posted by: metsfan | April 10, 2008 at 09:31 PM

    If I meant to imply that you were delusion I would have written ‘deluded’ I wrote diluted as in you are all plastic fantastic, phonies with the typical watered down IQ challenges facing most New Yorkers; as evidence by brilliants post by the likes of Joamiq and the appropriately named ‘douchebag’ who apparently things we are all ‘fags’ keeping it classy as always New York.

    There’s a reason everyone prefers LA to NY now. 😉


  • kebzach

    And now we know how Ives was able to afford “resigning” from his newspaper job to write a soccer blog full-time. Does RBNY have a good dental plan too?


  • foozer


    I’m not going to argue with you or anyone else here about the legitimacy of each team’s claim, but you’re giving off a “my team is always right(eous)” vibe again. You did it when you claimed the Crew was holding Danny Szetela hostage, with the Matt Jansen situation, and now again. Goff can report on DC without being a homer. Why can’t you report about NYRB without being a homer? You’re a great site for information, but posts like this really take away from your credibility. Please try and step out of your own shoes every once in a while. Thanks.



  • metsfan

    Haha papa bear nice attempted recovery. You were making the point that RBNY fans have delusions of grandeur and undervalue the Fire’s achievements and you meant ‘diluted’? Wow. And New Yorkers are plastic phonies compared to your favorite city LA? Are you trying to sound foolish? And as for preferring LA…not sure the last time I’ve seen an I Love LA shirt. It’s not the best-loved city, but that’s neither here nor there. And in reference to the irony you talked about earlier: Many spelling and grammatical errors for a post talking about low IQ. You are officially my favorite comedian; that’s how much you make me laugh.


  • Fire Fan

    “The entire scenario in which the Fire acquired Osorio tells me one thing. That is that BOTH John Guppy AND Osorio are weasles.

    Posted by: guillermo | April 10, 2008 at 04:01 PM ”

    This is correct. Guppy is slimy and Osorio is just as guilty. Hauptmann needs to let it go. I already did.


  • rednow.red4ever

    The funniest thing about these comments is that they all stemmed from an RBNY fanboy whining over the Fire owner being upset….Boston: most-sensitive, NY: spoiled jag-offs

    BTW: I know NY hasn’t won many titles lately….but all I hear is NY pondscum whine about how they deserve better that everyone else cuz they’re the “best and like, totally most awesome city”


  • Front Row

    Too much attention is being spent on this mediocre coach. Best finish as the Millionaires coach in Bogata’: 4th place. Moreover, he made some unusual substitutions in the semi-final match between New England and Chicago. Lastly, who had more impact with the Fire’s success, Osorio or Blanco? I agree with an earlier comment, Osorio is an opportunist and is loyal to no one, not Bogata, Chicago or New York but to Juan. Lastly, if Conde is mad, he should be pissed at Juan and not the Fire.


  • Chris

    So what are the other details of the “out” clause in his contract? For all we know, there was a penalty attached to that clause, like he would have to give back some of his salary or who knows what else.

    Re: Conde and Marmol, it’s the NY fans who won’t shut up. We have their rights, stop asking for them.


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