Chicago Fire, coach Veljko Paunovic agree to multiyear contract extension

Veljko Paunovic - Chicago Fire - tight shot - looking away

The Chicago Fire and head coach Veljko Paunovic have agreed to a multiyear contract extension, the club announced Thursday. The extension runs two years with a club option for a third.

Paunovic has spent three years in charge of the Fire, compiling a 31-46-25 regular-season record while leading the club to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in 2017, their first appearance since 2012. The Fire finished second-bottom in the Eastern Conference in 2018. 

“I feel excited about this project as I was the very first day three years ago when I became a part of the Chicago Fire football family,” Paunovic said in a media release. “I’m also very grateful for this new opportunity with the club and the values that I’m fully aligned and committed to representing in every city and field around the globe and US. I want to thank our fans for their passion, support and their devotion. My special thanks go for our ownership and GM Nelson Rodriguez, who have been giving us the direction and all their support in good and bad times. It’s all about the conviction, trust and unity. Get ready to lift the trophy this year.”

Prior to being hired by the Fire, Paunovic managed Serbian youth national team sides, with a 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup triumph to his name. 

“We believe the foundation we are setting and the standards we are demanding are the right ones in developing our championship program,” said Rodriguez. “Continuity is a critical element in that process and retaining Pauno for the next few years as a leader in that effort was an important offseason objective.”

Earlier this offseason, the Fire re-signed legend Bastian Schweinsteiger, acquired Brazilian center back Marcelo from Sporting CP for a reported transfer fee of $570,000 and added Marco Urena via the Waiver Draft.