Osorio thrown into the Fire in MLS

By Brian Westfall, Soccer Editor

MLS Features Bridgeview, IL (Sports Network) - New Chicago Fire coach Juan Carlos Osorio admitted during his introductory news conference Monday he didn't know a lot about Major League Soccer.

"I am the first to admit I don't know the league very well but there is one thing I can say about myself is the dedication I have for this job," Osorio said.

Osorio was hired Friday but didn't officially take over until Monday. He gets just a few days to prepare for his first game against the Houston Dynamo, the defending league champions and the hottest team in MLS.

Not an ideal situation for Osorio, or a club trying to snap out of a dreadful stretch where it's won just one of its last 11 games.

Osorio, 46, did spend two years in MLS as an assistant with the MetroStars in 2000-01. He was an assistant with Manchester City of the English Premiership from 2001-2006 and spent last season coaching in Colombia.

Osorio has had success almost everywhere he's gone, but it'll be tough to make the immediate impact Fire President/CEO John Guppy hopes for this season.

"There is no doubt in my mind that under the leadership of Juan Carlos, we will have a ... successful coach to take this organization forward not only for the remainder of this year but into the future," Guppy said.

Dave Sarachan
Dave Sarachan was let go last month.

The Fire won three of their first four games this season, but have struggled since. Dave Sarachan was fired on June 20 and Denis Hamlett guided the Fire as the interim manager in their last three games.

Osorio will have to learn the MLS very quickly if he hopes to turn Chicago's season around. The Fire have been devastated by injuries this year and are still awaiting the arrival of prize offseason signing Cuauhtemoc Blanco from Mexico.

"There are many ways to get familiar with this league and I will be getting that knowledge very soon," Osorio said.

That's true, because he'll be thrown into the Fire on Thursday. But after that game Chicago doesn't play another MLS game until July 29. That will allow the new coach to get settled and add his own flavor to the team.

It also should allow Blanco plenty of time to join Chicago and be a boost to its offense. The Fire have scored two or more goals in a game just twice this season and are averaging less than a goal per game.

"Juan Carlos is a respected manager with outstanding soccer credentials. He is a sound tactician, a decisive decision maker and an excellent communicator," Guppy said. "With Juan Carlos, we are bringing in someone who will address every aspect of training and get the most out of our players. We are excited about a new era of Fire Soccer."

Osorio is excited about the possibilities in Major League Soccer.

"Football in America is growing and I want to be a part of that," Osorio said. "I think the MLS is growing and a perfect example of that is how well the international team does at the international level. I think there are many more American players in Europe than South America, which shows the recognition they are getting throughout the world."

Sarachan had coached the team since 2003, compiling a 55-50-31 record. He led the team to the best record in MLS, the Eastern Conference title and the U.S. Open Cup in 2003.

Osorio is just the third head coach in Chicago history. Current United States National Team coach Bob Bradley led the club in its first five years in the league from 1998-2002.

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