Who is Frank Yallop?

The Gaffer (photo: sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

The Gaffer (photo: sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

OTF friend, collaborator, and San Jose Earthquakes writer Nerdy Gales brings Fire Nation an informed look at its new leader…

When Scott invited me to tell Chicago Fire fans what they should expect from their new coach Frank Yallop, the first thing I typed was “4-4-2”. I briefly considered stopping there; it was the one constant throughout his career in San Jose, and Fire fans will surely become familiar with the most straightforward formation in soccer, if they’re not already.

Not coincidentally, the second thing that came to my mind when I thought of Frank Yallop was the word “straightforward”. I found him personable, direct, and with a dry humor. Yallop was once asked if he might be tempted to roll out a 4-3-3 and he replied, wryly, “you can call it whatever you like, but you already know what it will be.”

Frank Yallop is considered a player’s coach – he is loyal to those he chooses and is well-liked and respected. As an example, Yallop worked with striker Alan Gordon in Los Angeles and later targeted him for the Earthquakes. Gordon had high praise for his manager. “I wouldn’t want to play for anybody but Frank,” Gordon said. “He’s great in every way. We go back to Galaxy days and he’s just someone we want to fight for – so we do.”

Yallop’s separation from the Earthquakes in June was sudden, unforeseen, and provided me ample opportunity to teach my fellow ‘Quakes fans the word “gobsmacked”. Nobody, not even his players and fellow coaches, expected that Yallop would leave – especially mid-season. When he did, he was just one win shy of a hundred with the Earthquakes, a club for whom he delivered two MLS Cups and a Supporters’ Shield. Yallop also earned two MLS Coach of the Year awards while manning the sideline in San Jose.

Yallop’s split with the Earthquakes came by “mutual agreement” in a regularly scheduled meeting with Dave Kaval (Stanford MBA and club president) and John Doyle (former ‘Quakes player and current GM). Yallop exited that meeting with a pink slip, after what was described by Kaval as a “collective ‘aha’ moment”.

Apparently, consensus among the three led to an agreement that the coach’s departure was the only way forward for the Earthquakes. Yallop has since refused all requests for interviews about the decision, so we may never know what really happened in that meeting. If there was any underlying friction between Yallop and the front office, he certainly kept it well clear of the clubhouse.

In summary, I agree with Jay Hipps, who wrote in his eulogy for Frank Yallop “we leave with the experience of knowing a man who was a leader, not through threats or coercion, but by reaching into his players to find their humanity, their trust, and their commitment. And for all those things, he will be missed.”

I wish Frank Yallop the best in Chicago. Fire fans should feel good about their new gaffer.

Nerdy Gales is a San Jose Earthquakes scribe, bobblehead, and dribbler of balls & Boddington’s at Center Line Soccer and SB Nation’s Quake, Rattle, and Goal. Follow Nerdy @NerdyGales

7 thoughts on “Who is Frank Yallop?

  1. I hope Yallop can give the Fire guts and lead them to Glory. This club with all its history is long overdue for some silverware, I really hope he cleans house with the Fire roster and gets rid of all the stragglers not earning their keep in the team. I cant wait to see which players hes gonna bring or the style of football hes going to instill in the Fire. I know its a rebuilding period but after 6 long trying years it is something to really get excited about. I think ill call my Fire season ticket rep and renew!

    • I think he’s got a solid core of players. Certainly, there is some expensive dead weight to lose. As of yesterday, Yallop started to fire assistant coaches and other technical staff, namely, Rafa Carmona (Scouting Director).

  2. That’s very true, he does a good solid core but as you mentioned there is a lot of dead expensive weight. I see Yallop waiving a lot of the bench and pressuring starters to give 100 percent on the field, next season despite being a transitional period could be a resurgence for the Fire.

    • Indeed. With the correct 4-5 changes, 2014 should be a better year.

      Also, I certainly misjudged Rafa Carmona’s length of stay post Leon/Klopas. I figured he’d be around at least a few months. He was fired within a week.

      As expected, the assistant coaches were let go too. The one that remains, which puzzles me, is Tony Jouaux. The team wasn’t fit enough in 2013, and Jouaux is complicit in that failure. That said, it’s been less than a week since Yallop was hired, so Tony may be let go as well.

  3. Also Yallop is going to revamp the Fire’s scouting ability. No longer to we have to suffer from Perovich’s Uruguayan pipeline which has brought little success and drag on the salary cap. I’m both curious and excited to see who Yallop brings in, maybe a world class DP. Overall Yallop is rebuilding this Club from the top which is what the Fire has needed for the past few years. I just Andy gives him the tools and resources to do it.

    • I’m less concerned with a big DP and more concerned about depth and getting more youth into the squad.

      I was looking at my roster spreadsheet yesterday and updated the players’ ages through Feb. ’14 (before the start of next season). This squad is ageing and has few players under 25. Over time, Yallop must find a way to build depth through the club’s development system, a la LA Galaxy. There’s so much talent in Chicago Fire’s exclusive zone (or whatever MLS calls it) but the club hasn’t done a good enough job getting these players into the first team pipeline. Sure, the academy’s scale has drastically expanded, but what good is it if it it isn’t producing 19, 20, & 21 year-old players who are getting MLS minutes?

      Yes, in the short run, Yallop’s got some important work to do w/ getting his first team set by March. But the long-run challenges are much greater, as he must remedy what appears to be systemic failure on the scouting and development side.

      • You’re right on that , Duka and Quincy should be featured more prominently. But the bigger issues is the aging defense the Fire has particularly Segares and Pause. As long as Anibaba and Berry stay healthy the center is good, add Jumper into the mix.

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