Former Fire coach Frank Klopas relishes game against old team

Written By BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media Posted: 05/13/2014, 06:13am

When former Fire coach Frank Klopas and the Montreal Impact host the Fire on Saturday, it won’t be a typical Major League Soccer game between two winless teams.

Klopas isn’t denying that.

‘‘I can tell you that it’s another game, which it is, but there’s emotions that go into that game that are probably different than playing against other opponents because Chicago, for me, is home,’’ Klopas said. ‘‘The Fire is where I finished my career as a player and had an opportunity to start my professional career away from soccer.’’

Klopas and the Fire (0-1-4, four points) parted company Oct. 30 after the team missed the playoffs on the final day of last season. He wasn’t out of work for long. In December, he became the coach and director of player personnel for the Impact (0-3-2, two points).

Klopas seems to have moved on from his time with the Fire, but he said seeing his hometown club will bring some emotions.

‘‘You always remember the moments you’ve spent there; it’s not easy to forget,’’ Klopas said. ‘‘It’s a new chapter, and you move on. But for the first time, you see a lot of those memories come back in your mind. . . . But when you decide to do this as a coach, you know things will happen. All good things will come to an end, and they do.’’

Klopas had good moments in Chicago. As a player, he was part of the Fire’s MLS Cup winner in 1998; as a coach, he went 34-25-17. He was an instrumental part of the Fire building its brand in the city, all of which his successor understands.

‘‘I know Frank well,’’ Fire coach Frank Yallop said. ‘‘Playing against him and, obviously, coaching against him and socially. He’s a good guy. We’ll have maybe a glass of wine after the game, but we’re good friends — as good as we can be from afar. Hopefully he does a good job up in Montreal, and I’m sure he’s hoping I do well here.’’

Except for Saturday.

‘‘I want to win because it doesn’t matter if it’s the Fire or someone else,’’ Klopas said. ‘‘I think our team has been playing well, and it’s important for the players.’’

Yallop has said the same about the Fire. Neither coach wants his team to fall too far behind, even early in the season.

‘‘Both Franks will be trying to get three points for their teams,’’ Yallop said.

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