FanPost

Frank Klopas' Homecoming

Montreal Impact manager Frank Klopas knows how to win in Chicago. Dubbed the "Hometown Hero" after his golden goal winner in the 1998 U.S. Open Cup, the Greek-born and Chicago-raised 48 year old has enjoyed quite the success in the Windy City. Immigrating to the USA as a child, Klopas led Mather High School to the 1982 Chicago Public League Championship his senior year. With a city population of 2.7 million (3 million back in 1980), ask any Illinoisan and they will tell you winning a Chi-town public league title is no small feat.

Klopas spent his first five professional years with the Chicago Sting netting 62 goals in 140 appearances and receiving second team all-star honors in the 1986-87 campaign. In 1988, he embarked on an almost decade-long stint in his native country of Greece. He would return to North America in 1996 and in 1998 was dealt back to his hometown in a trade. It was here where he would cement his legacy in Chicago soccer history.

In the 1998 season, Klopas helped the Chicago Fire complete "The Double," winning both the MLS Cup and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. In the MLS Cup final, Klopas was sent on as a substitute by former American bench boss Bob Bradley in the 56’ minute to see out a 2-0 victory for the Fire. Five days later, under the lights of historic Soldier Field in Chicago, Klopas again came on as a substitute in the 91’ minute. This time the game was deadlocked at 1-1. In the first half of sudden death extra time, Klopas banged home a shot from point blank range. As he jumped over the sponsor boards behind the goal in a celebratory run, the commentator famously yelled out, "Frankie Klopas becomes the hometown hero and the Fire does the double!" Klopas revealed afterwards he had a "weird feeling" the night before that he was going to score the game-winner. His goal made the Chicago Fire the third American team to complete "The Double" at the time and he was inducted into the Illinois Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005.

Frank Klopas went on to spend three seasons as the Chicago Fire head coach before making the move to Montreal in late 2013, eventually bringing with him midfielder Dilly Duka and defender Bakary Soumare. Now tonight, Klopas returns to his former club and to his hometown. It is a place where he has a legacy of winning championships as a player, from high school all the way to the MLS. With a crucial three points in the Eastern Conference on the line, the question looming is can he win in Chicago again? Although, this time it will be from the visitor side of the field.