Chicago set to name new coach

By Ridge Mahoney

According to a source, Richie Williams will likely be retained as an assistant coach by Red Bull New York head coach Juan Carlos Osorio, with another assistant's position being taken by either former Fire midfielder Chris Armas or MISL New Jersey Ironmen head coach Omid Namazi. Other candidates are being interviewed but the choice will come down to either Armas or Namazi. Assistant coach John Harkes, who attended a retreat for Red Bull employees last month in Southern California prior to the official announcement of Osorio's hiring, is not in the team's plans.

Red Bulls sporting director Jeff Agoos would not comment directly on the status of Harkes, other than to say, "We're still finalizing a few things and Juan Carlos is looking at some different possibilities and options." Harkes did not return a phone call Tuesday.

Agoos and Osorio will attend the MLS Combine and SuperDraft, "along with four or five other people," said Agoos.

Armas is also assisting Fire general manager John Guppy in the selection of a new head coach for the Fire to replace Osorio.

Longtime Fire assistant coach Denis Hamlett leads the pack of candidates: assistants Paul Mariner (New England) and John Spencer (Houston) have also been interviewed, as has former Dallas head coach Mike Jeffries and ex-U.S. international Frank Klopas, who had been involved with a group trying to buy the Fire before it was sold last summer.

Another source with knowledge of the search says the choice will be either Hamlett or Spencer.

Like Armas, Fire operator-investor Andrew Hauptman - who heads the entity, Andell Holdings, that has bought the team - hails from Long Island, and his propensity to kick a ball around at training sessions impressed the former U.S. international midfielder. Yet Armas admits he and his family take vacations close to home every chance they get, so if the RBNY job makes any sense at all, he'll take it.

An announcement on the Fire job is expected by the end of the week, so the coach can attend the MLS Combine in Ft. Lauderdale this weekend in an official capacity.

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