C.J. Brown’s reunion with the Fire only lasted one season.
The team announced Monday that Brown has resigned from his role as assistant coach. Brown will join expansion team New York City Football Club as an assistant and work for head coach Jason Kreis, with whom he worked at Real Salt Lake for three seasons.
“I have made a very difficult decision to leave the Fire. My family is very sad about leaving a place we consider our home, but I have been given a chance that I cannot pass up,” Brown said in a statement. “With this being said, I want to thank Frank Yallop and (chairman) Andrew Hauptman for all they did to bring me back to the Fire and giving me an amazing opportunity with an incredible club. You opened the doors to my family and me as if we never left. I am truly thankful for that.”
Brown, inducted into the Ring of Fire in 2012, was a defender for 13 seasons in Chicago and was a member of the club’s 1998 MLS Cup champions and all four U.S. Open Cup winners. After retiring, Brown was hired as Kreis’ assistant at RSL and spent three seasons there before coming to work under Yallop for the Fire this year.
Brown’s primary responsibility was coaching the defense, a unit that was rebuilt before the 2014 season. The Fire allowed 51 goals this year, one fewer than in 2013.
Now with NYCFC, Brown will be on the staff of the league’s most anticipated expansion franchise. Co-owned by the New York Yankees and Manchester City, NYCFC already has acquired stars Frank Lampard and David Villa and has become one of Major League Soccer’s high-profile teams before playing a game.
The chance to reunite with Kreis and build an expansion franchise from the ground up was apparently too much for Brown to turn down.
“It’s disappointing to lose C.J. from our coaching staff, as we made every attempt to ensure he would remain with the club long-term,” Yallop said in a statement. “In a sense, C.J. saw an opportunity to ‘get the band back together’ so to speak. C.J. was a valuable part of what we are doing here and I have great appreciation for the work he put into this Club over the past season.
“As we wish him well in his next endeavor, our club remains focused on seeing our plans come together. We look forward to the campaign ahead.”