When he believed that the club he had built lacked identity and needed a new direction, Chicago Fire coach Frank Klopas stepped in to take on the challenge. Since taking over as the team's coach last year, Klopas has taken a struggling Fire club and turned it around, leading the team to the playoffs this year for the first time since 2009.
As Klopas tells Scott Powers of ESPN Chicago, he's firmly emphasized the need to have his players buying in on a mental level: "You have to believe in the players you have. The players have to know it's not just about words; it's about actions. You believe in them, you give them confidence."
In 2011 when Klopas replaced Carlos de los Cobos as coach, he showed that kind of confidence in a roster that he had effectively built in the preceding years as Chicago's technical director. Players appreciated the determination he showed in taking on the role, as captain Logan Pause tells Powers.
On Wednesday, the Fire open the 2012 playoffs by hosting the Houston Dynamo at Toyota Park.