Top Stories

Report: Chicago hires De Los Cobos as head coach

Carlos De Los Cobos (

Photo by

The Chicago Fire's lengthy courtship of Mexican coach Carlos De Los Cobos is finally over and the last vacant MLS coaching job has been filled.

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that the Fire and De Los Cobos have agreed to terms on a deal and De Los Cobos will be introduced as the Fire's head coach on Monday. Fire technical director Frank Klopas could not be reachd for comment, but sources have told SBI that the Fire had been locked in negotiations with De Los Cobos for more than a week and the deal nearly fell through. It appears the sides were able to work out their differences and now the Fire will be led by its first head coach without MLS experience.

De Los Cobos replaces Denis Hamlett and will become the fifth head coach in the Fire's 11-year history. He joins the Fire after having lead El Salvador through an impressive run through World Cup Qualifying.

The hiring comes on the same day that the New York Red Bulls also hired a foreign coach in Swedish manager Hans Backe.

What is the SBI take? De Los Cobos is a respected manager and someone who could help the Fire as it prepares to go through a period of rebuilding, but the track record of foreign coaches in MLS isn't a good one so De Los Cobos will be fighting history as he attempts to lead the Fire to its first MLS Cup title since its inaugural season in 1998. That said, De Los Cobos will have one advantage in that he will be working alongside a technical director who knows the league and the American game in Frank Klopas.

The Fire has lost several starters from last year's team, including Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Chris Rolfe, Gonzalo Segares and Brandon Prideaux (though the Fire is still holding out hope that it can bring back Blanco after the World Cup). Chicago still boasts a strong nucleus, with Brian McBride, Marco Pappa, John Thorrington, Logan Pause, Wilman Conde and Jon Busch, but De Los Cobos will need to adapt to MLS quickly if the Fire are going to make a fourth straight trip to the Eastern Conference Final and avoid having 2010 turn into the type of rebuilding season Fire fans aren't used to enduring.

What do you think of the hiring? Think it's a good choice? Wish the Fire had hired an American coach?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Nah, he wouldn’t need Arturo because he’s bringing in Julio Martinez.

    He found alot of talent in El Salvador (Castillo, Zelaya, Martinez, Osael Romero, Manuel Salazar, Mardoqueo Henriquez, Shawn Martin) and got the absoulte best out of them and no doubt can succeed in the MLS. Good luck Profe De Los Cobos!

  2. Is De Los Cobos the first manager with such an extensive Mexican League background? I can’t see anything but positives with the hiring, although like all new managers to the MLS the understanding of salary caps will come as a shock. But, having been a National team coach will prepare him better as he is used to ‘wishing player A is available’…

    I’m with ELAC in that he appears to be a tactitian, and had ES overperforming.

    First rumour started by me….Arturo Alvarez is traded to the Fire…

  3. Sound good, Mr De los cobos is excellent coach, and he doesnt need need to learn the MLS soccer. I really sure that the Chacago Fired team will be the next champeon.

  4. I’m not sure I buy the argument that foreign coaches who have no prior experience in MLS are not going to fare as well. I mean, not going to fare as well because they have little MLS experience (rather than for other reasons, like because they just aren’t good coaches or the management, etc.) What’s so different? The way we sign contracts with players is weird, for sure. But what can’t De Los Cobos learn by reading up on the flight to Chicago? It’s still soccer after all. Have you ever heard a fan in MLS say, “Well, you know, the coach has a fantastic eye for talent, he always gets the tactics right on gameday, he really makes the team gel and play well together, give it their all every game, and he really inspires confidence. If only he understood how the American college and draft system worked, we would have made the playoffs.”

  5. As someone who has followed El Salvador closely, De Los Cobos was the best thing to happen to that team in a long time. Salvadorians all over are disappointed that he did not stay.

  6. to be fair, it’s really a 3 year average. after all, we’ve played 12 seasons so far with only *four* coaches.

    also, three years with dave sarachan in charge feels like an eternity.

  7. That is an interesting thought: MLS teams all play, essentially the same way. When you look at other teams, we’ll take the EPL, you can see the difference in play between United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal. Furthermore, Spurs play different than Villa and a team looking to stay out of the relegation battle plays an entirely different way.

    At MLS I’m not sure there is that much of a difference and I think that goes down to a lack of creativity on the coaching choices and the coaches experience that we have here in MLS.

    When the aspect of different playing styles reaches a tipping point, I think we will see an increase in “entertainment” for US soccer. Watching two teams play the same way, generally makes for canceling each other out, and a “disorganized” game. Perhaps we will see a better jump in perceived talent with an increase in individual playing styles.

    Interesting concept Franky.

  8. Compared to NY, who’s had twelve in fourteen seasons?

    In actuality, it’s twelve years, counting the one upcoming. 5 managers in twelve years is pretty good in the modern game.

  9. “good individual players but they lacked cohesion, efficiency, and usually turned over possession in the attacking 3rd of the field.” Hood Rich

    This has been the Fire’s problem for quite awhile even before Blanco came. Very good talent but never quite gelled together as a team.

  10. I agree; before De Los Cabos, ES had some good individual players but they lacked cohesion, efficiency, and usually turned over possession in the attacking 3rd of the field. When he took over, this team overcame all of their weaknesses mentioned, and played way beyond everyone’s expectations. I was very impressed with what he did with that below-average team, so if he has a good team, imagine how far they can go.

  11. I was thinking the same.

    That’s a sad stat if a 2 year average is considered admirable. But then again, look at soccer around the world, coaches have very short life spans aside from the SAF’s of the world, which there are very few of.

  12. Klopas will be said hand holder….

    in fact Los Cobos merely has to manage the team Klopas constructs. He’s being asked to bring the technical and tactical aspect of soccer to the fire squad, not the legistics of the league.

  13. He took an underachieving El Salvador to great lengths and made them a very formidable opponent. They attacked with speed but I think lacked tactics on how to hold onto leads.

    Be an interesting year for MLS with foreign coaches. I think this is their year to finally break the curse.

  14. Not to nitpick or diminish Ives’s golden reputation, but scoop credit on this goes to NICK FIRCHAU of Sun-Times Media. Big ups for the local boy.

  15. What DLC does know is how to do more with less, how to get great performances out of so-so players.

    On paper, El Salvador had no business being as good as they were.

    That aspect can certainly carry over to MLS.

  16. this is a good hire. the el salvador team did well and chicago needs a mexican presence and a polish presence. hopefully he can bring some mexican talent with him. the crowds at toyota park will be fantastic if he can bring in some mexican talent to replace blanco and keep the fire on top.

  17. “De Los Cobos replaces Denis Hamlett and will become just the fifth head coach in the Fire’s 11-year history”

    just the *fifth* coach?!

    Guys, that’s a coach every 2 years… man, that’s not good. I’ve got shoes I’ve had longer than that.

  18. de los cobos is great. much love for what he did for ES. He was also the assistant coach for Mexico at France 98, held the head coach position for Mexico’s U-23 and was also a defender on Mexico’s world cup team in 86. He has plenty of experience, and i wish nothing for the best for him.

  19. Very attack-minded. Very defensive-minded. Just not both at the same time. More of a tactician.
    He speaks as much English as Bob Bradley speaks Spanish.

  20. I agree with Dabull. Frank can help him, and many of the other foreign coaches didn’t have someone like that. I also think he is a good choice because he knows concacaf and can help find the talent in central america

  21. First I wanted Vasquez, then I wanted Richie. I’ll take the dice roll on Run-DLC over Onalfo or Marsch though.

    And hey, if it doesn’t work out perhaps Bob will want to come back to Chi-town after the World Cup!

  22. Klopas is there to handle the oddities of MLS player movement. DLC is there to coach. Its a much better situation than in NY where the GM and the coach are completely foreign to MLS.

  23. I’d be interested to know who in the Fire organization will be holding the hand of De Los Cobos as he figures out exactly how MLS works, and what their plan is. I’m not familiar with El Salvador’s playing style, is he an attack minded coach? Any word on the signing of that winger that was supposed to be tied to this coach coming to Chicago? Best of luck to him and the Fire. Nice job, Ives.

  24. Ives – Is there a place where one can find a list of all foreign coaches who came to MLS without any experience in American soccer? Thanks.


Leave a Comment