Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Post #107 - Autograph Appreciation: Frank Klopas

Continuing the Autograph Appreciation series today with my third of five soccer signatures. Since we just moved into our new place in Indiana, and I don't have wifi or the scanner hooked up yet (I'm actually typing this at my parent's just 20 minutes up the road) I figured this was as good of a time as any to get another AA post up, as I already had this card scanned. So, who's our subject today?

Another card just like Chris Henderson (my last AA post) that I don't have records of when I sent it and/or received it back. But that's a small detail that doesn't apply much here. Let's take a look at the life and career of Frank Klopas, shall we?

Fotios Klopas was born September 1, 1966 in Prosymna, Greece. Moving to the States at the age of 8, Klopas received his U.S. citizenship upon his 18th birthday. Attending Mather High School in Chicago, Klopas left a mark leading Mather to the Chicago Public League championship as a senior. Skipping college, Klopas signed with the Chicago Sting of the NASL, but an injury led to him missing the team's season.

Beginning the next season, in 1983, Klopas played for the Sting in the indoor MISL. He would make 140 appearances up to 1988, scoring 62 goals and being named as a second team All-Star during the 1986-87 season. Leaving Chicago to go back to Europe, Klopas would spend 1988-1994 playing for the Greek team AEK Athens FC, appearing in 49 matches and netting 6 goals.

After tearing his ACL in 1991 and dealing with infections after, Klopas was limited for two seasons. In 1992, Frank signed a contract with the United States Soccer Federation, but would return to Greece following the 1994 World Cup, latching on with Apollon Athens until 1996 (10 games, 0 goals).

When Major League Soccer came calling in 1996, Klopas answered and was assigned to the Kansas City Wizards, scoring 7 goals in 54 appearances with the team in two seasons. After being traded to the Columbus Crew, the Crew immediately swapped him to the Chicago Fire (before Klopas played a single minute in the Yellow and Black). The Fire was on the beneficial end of this deal, as Frank helped the Fire win the MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup in 1998; Klopas was the scorer of the Golden Goal against the Crew in the Open Cup Final, giving the Fire a 2-1 victory in overtime. He would retire from professional soccer following the 1999 season. In 2004 he was selected into Chicago's "Ring of Fire" and in 2005, became a member of the Illinois Soccer Hall of Fame.

Klopas had a career with the U.S. National Team spanning from 1988-1995, in which he appeared in 39 matches and amassed 12 goals. Despite a solid career, Klopas did not appear in the 1994 U.S. World Cup run (which is the World Cup the card set shown above was produced for), amid a fair amount of controversy.

After retirement, the Fire hired Klopas as their Strength and Conditioning coach, where he remained for one season (2000). After a few years off, Klopas was named the head coach/GM of the MISL's expansion franchise, the Chicago Storm. Despite leading the team to a playoff berth in 2006, Klopas resigned after the season. Rejoining the Fire in 2008 as their first Technical Director, Klopas took over the managerial role in May 2011, remaining in the position until 2013. Finally, his soccer roller coaster took him to Montreal, where he was the head coach of the Montreal Impact until 2015. He currently lives in Chicago, with his wife Sophia.

If I had to guess, I would say that I got this card signed by Mr. Klopas sometime during his tenure at the Fire head coach, although it was before I kept records and really have no way of telling for sure. Regardless, it's a great card to have in my collection, especially of someone who has such a legacy in the Chicago market (where I'm not far from).

Hopefully you enjoyed this stroll through the history of Frank Klopas. As I mentioned at the beginning, this was my third of five soccer autographs to cover in this series, before we start on NASCAR (unless anyone has any soccer autographs they want to swap; I'm always willing to trade for signature cards!). My last autograph post about Chris Henderson ended up with over 200 views, one of my highest totals so far, so either people are enjoying reading these or Blogger has a few issues! Thanks for reading, and have a safe and happy Fourth of July!


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