The Chicago Fire announced today that Head Coach Denis Hamlett will not return to the Fire for the 2010 Major League Soccer season and will leave the club, effectively immediately. Hamlett’s contract with the Fire expires at the end of this year and he intends to pursue other coaching opportunities. Meanwhile, the Chicago Fire will immediately begin its search for a new head coach. Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas will manage all team decisions in the interim.
“Denis has a long history with the club and has been a part its success since our inaugural year in 1998,” said Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas. “We are grateful for his commitment to the Fire and his leadership throughout his career with the club. We wish him the very best and he will always be considered a part of the Fire family. Right now, the Fire has decided to take the team in a new direction in 2010.”
Hamlett has been with the Chicago Fire coaching staff since its inaugural season in 1998 and was named head coach on January 11, 2008. In his two seasons as head coach, Hamlett earned a regular season record of 24-17-19, leading the Fire to the Eastern Conference Final in both the 2008 and 2009 seasons as well as the SuperLiga Final in 2009. Hamlett also served as interim head coach for the Fire in June and July of 2007, compiling a record of 0-1-2 through three games. During the 2008 and 2009 seasons, several players won individual MLS awards and recognitions, including Cuauhtémoc Blanco (MLS Best XI, 2008; MLS First XI All-Star Selection, 2008 & 2009), Jon Busch (2008 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year; 2008 MLS Best XI), Wilman Conde (MLS First XI All-Star selection, 2009; MLS Best XI, 2009), Brian McBride (MLS All-Star selection (inactive roster), 2009) and Bakary Soumare (MLS Best XI, 2008; MLS All-Star, 2009).
In 1996, Hamlett was selected 12th overall in the inaugural MLS Draft by the Colorado Rapids. In his first season, he started 31 of the Colorado Rapids’ 32 contests en route to being named the team’s 1996 BIC Tough Defender of the Year. Hamlett’s playing career was cut short in 1997 by injury. In 1998, Hamlett joined the Fire as an assistant coach.