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Friday, January 11, 2008
ESPNsoccernet: January 12, 3:40 PM UK
Fire hire former assistant Hamlett as head coach

Ives Galarcep

After spending more than a month considering almost a dozen candidates, the Chicago Fire have chosen a familiar face to be the team's new leader.

Chicago has hired Denis Hamlett as head coach, sources confirmed late Thursday. Hamlett becomes the fourth head coach in team history, having served as an assistant for the three head coaches who came before him.

The Fire announced Hamlett's hiring on Friday.

Hamlett accepted the position Thursday night, putting an end to an exhaustive search to replace former head coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who left Chicago to become head coach of the New York Red Bulls in December.

Hamlett earned the nod ahead of a long list of candidates that included Houston Dynamo assistant John Spencer and former Dallas Burn head coach Mike Jeffries. According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, Spencer said he was offered the position earlier in the week but turned it down because of a low contract offer.

A native of Costa Rica who moved to the United States at age 10, Hamlett joined the Fire in 1998 as part of Bob Bradley's coaching staff during the club's inaugural season. During the next 10 years, Hamlett sat on the bench for the club's MLS Cup title in 1998 and four U.S. Open titles (1998, 2000, '03 and '06).

Hamlett, 39, takes over a Fire team that reached the Eastern Conference final last fall under Osorio. The Fire upset regular season Eastern Conference champion D.C. United in the first round of the playoffs before falling to the New England Revolution in the East final.

His first order of business will be to attend the MLS player combine in Fort Lauderdale this weekend. The Fire has two first-round picks in next week's MLS draft. Hamlett must also hire a coaching staff, though sources say long-time assistant Daryl Shore is expected to stay on staff.

A former standout defender for the Colorado Rapids, Hamlett retired before the 1997 season and joined the Fire soon after as an assistant coach.

Bradley was the club's first coach and guided the Fire to an MLS Cup title in the club's first season (1998) and an MLS Cup final appearance in 2000, along with two U.S. Open Cup titles (1998 and 2000). Dave Sarachan replaced Bradley after the 2002 season and spent four seasons in charge. Sarachan led Chicago to an MLS Cup final in his first season and guided the Fire to a pair of U.S. Open Cup titles in 2003 and 2006.

Osorio replaced Sarachan midway through the 2007 season and helped the Fire go from last place in the East to the East final.

Ives Galarcep covers MLS for ESPNsoccernet. He is a writer and columnist for the Herald News (N.J.) and writes a blog, Soccer By Ives. He can be reached at Ivespn79@aol.com.




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