EzraTerens

Ezra Hendrickson has officially rounded out his coaching staff with the appointments of former Fire great C.J. Brown and his former colleague from LA and Seattle Junior González.

Frank Klopas and Adin Brown were also confirmed as members of the staff under Hendrickson, who will be embarking on his first journey as a head coach in MLS starting February 26, 2022 (68 days away!!!!!).

When I look at this staff, the two things that come to mind are balance and experience.

Let’s start with Ring of Fire member C.J. Brown. Fire fans will know that C.J. had one of the most prolific careers in the history of the Club, including the most appearances (372) and minutes played (32,538) in team history. He’s also one of just three players to win all six of the Fire’s major domestic trophies, joining Chris Armas and Zach Thornton in that exclusive club.

Brown rejoins the Fire after spending the 2021 season as the head coach and technical director of Chicago House AC. Prior to his time with Chicago House, he spent a decade as an assistant coach in MLS and on the international stage, working with Real Salt Lake, the Fire, NYCFC, Orlando City SC, the Red Bulls, and the U-23 USMNT.

I spoke to one of his former players at Chicago House recently and the biggest thing that they had to say about him is that he is a player’s coach. “He’s just one of those guys you want to be around and will do anything for.”

Assistant coaches are an extension of the head coach, and this is a really good quality to have, particularly with the younger players. Given C.J.’s background on the defensive side of the ball, he’ll turn his attention to that and focus on making guys like Carlos Terán into the best defenders possible.

Announced late last week, Junior González comes to Chicago with over 20 years of coaching experience. His previous stops include serving as Hendrickson’s assistant coach at Seattle Sounders FC 2, and they were both assistants for the LA Galaxy under Sigi Schmid. He’s also gained some valuable head coaching experience at the professional level, most recently with LA Galaxy II (2019-2021) and in 2017 with Rio Grande Valley FC Toros.

From what I’ve been told, González will be focusing more on the attacking side of the ball and rightly so. I covered Junior a lot in the USL Championship and his teams were always very organized, fluid, and lethal in the attacking third. This was most certainly the case with LA Galaxy II. Every game I covered of his always seemed to be a shootout and they were a tough team to keep off the score sheet. Good synergy and honest conversations between assistants and head coaches are always a must for a healthy and successful technical area, and given the history rooted in trust and success between González and Hendrickson, this is a great appointment.

Adin Brown staying on as the goalkeeper coach is another move that makes a lot of sense.

His work on and off the field with teenage starlet Gaga Slonina, coupled with his experience as a player and a coach, makes him a great asset for the coaching staff and the goalkeeping unit. Brown is another guy you just love to be around and while he might look frightening, I can tell you first-hand he is a gentle giant who is a phenomenal goalkeeping coach and human being. He’ll be working with another academy product in Chris Brady and veteran Spencer Richey, who was recently signed as the team's first free agent acquisition of the offseason.

And last but never least, Mr. Frank Klopas. Franky bleeds Chicago Fire and is the type of personality and Club ambassador that you want in your dressing room. He has seen the game from almost every position imaginable with the Fire – player, head coach, assistant coach, broadcaster, etc. His love for the city of Chicago, the beautiful game and the Fire will be an invaluable tool for Ezra as CFFC look to recapture the success of the Fire teams that Franky played on.

This is a staff that boasts an incredible amount of talent, experience, and good people. Obviously, it comes down to how the players perform inside of the white lines for the allotted 90 minutes, but these four lead me to believe that the team will be extremely well-prepared no matter what the scenario.