By Pete FalkPET FALK is one of the greatest athletes of all time, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and the longest-tenured pro soccer player in the United States.
He’s the head coach of the Chicago Fire, an MLS franchise that is currently the second-longest-tenure team in the league.
Falk has spent the last 14 years working in the world of professional soccer.
He has coached over 300 players and coaches at both youth and senior levels.
His players have been the most successful in the history of professional sport.
But his most memorable coaching moments came when he was a player in Major League Soccer.
His first stint as a coach was with the New York Red Bulls from 2001-05, when he guided them to the playoffs in each of his first four seasons.
Faced with a roster that was full of promising prospects and players from his native Ireland, Falk coached them to their first ever MLS Cup.
That championship was their first championship in franchise history.
The following year, he was named the team’s technical director, where he helped the club win its first title in franchise memory.
After spending four seasons with the Fire, he returned to Chicago in 2007, where his first season with the club was an unmitigated disaster.
Falk led the Fire to the Western Conference semifinals, only to lose to Real Salt Lake in the championship game, and was fired after the season.
In his three years as an assistant, the Fire went 14-13-7, and made the playoffs just once.
Faced with the possibility of a return to MLS, Falk hired new head coach Jesse Marsch to replace him.
After winning the Supporters’ Shield, a club record that he was never able to accomplish with the Red Bulls, Falk went back to the United Soccer League to coach the Minnesota United FC, a team that was playing in its first season.
They were able to qualify for the postseason after a two-year run, but they finished third in the conference.
Marsch, who was fired by Falk and was replaced by his longtime assistant, Darren Eales, went 0-9-7 in his first year as head coach.
The club made the postseason once more, but this time it fell to the Chicago Red Stars, who were looking for a first-round exit.
Marsch’s first season in charge was disastrous, and the club finished with the worst record in the Western conference, finishing fifth.
Fails like that are usually followed by a season of frustration, and Marsch had no time to let things fester.
Falks first season back in the U.S. brought his team back to prominence with a second-place finish in the North American Soccer League, which was a major boost to his future career.
After a stint with the Seattle Sounders, Falker joined the Toronto FC in 2018.
The first team was on the rise and they made the second round of the playoffs, but were unable to repeat.
Falking was promoted to the full-time head coach, but his job security was not as guaranteed.
Falks first coaching job was with Real Salt Campos, a Canadian soccer team that is now the current U.L. Liga champions.
The team was also the first team in franchise histories to reach the CONCACAF Champions League.
Felson’s first campaign in charge saw the team finish sixth in the standings, and it was the last time they finished outside of the top eight.
The year ended with a win over Real Salt, which left them just two points from the playoffs.
Falking was fired in January 2019, after the team finished in third place in the CONCacaf Champions League group stage.
The next season saw Felson return to coaching, but that time was different.
After losing in the first round of a playoff for the first time in franchise annals, Felson was fired, and Felson and Marsich were fired two months later.
Falsons departure from the coaching job, coupled with his subsequent departure from his job with the team, left the team in a precarious position.
Fellow assistant, Eric Wynalda, was brought in to replace Felson.
FALK had coached the team just a few months prior to the dismissal, and Wynaldas experience was a perfect fit.
The pair combined to go 6-3-1 in their first season, and won the Supporters Shield with a 3-0 victory over the New England Revolution in the playoffs final.
The win helped the Fire finish third in their conference and finish in third in MLS.FALLSON is a four-time MLS Cup champion with New York City FC, as well as a two time champion with the Portland Timbers.
He was a member of the 1999 U.N. Women’s World Cup team that finished second in the tournament.
FALLSONS first season as head of the Red Bull Soccer Academy