Chicago Fire extend contract of sporting director Georg Heitz

Chicago Fire logo generic - 2022

Chicago Fire FC have extended the contracts of sporting director Georg Heitz and technical director Sebastian Pelzer, the club announced Tuesday.

For the front-office executives, the 2024 MLS campaign will mark their fifth season in leadership roles for Chicago. They both originally joined the club in December 2019.

“I’m pleased that Georg and Sebastian will continue to lead our sporting operations,” Chicago owner and chairman Joe Mansueto said in a release. “As we continue working toward building a world-class organization deeply connected to the community, Georg and his team have created a strong foundation that will lead to sustained success.

“Our fans deserve to support a team that is a consistent contender for trophies, and heading into the 2024 season, we are all committed to taking the necessary steps to bring more success to the Chicago Fire.”

A pivotal winter awaits the Fire, who last made the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in 2017. In a club interview about the news, Mansueto said they’re down to three head coach candidates, plan to sign a Designated Player striker (No. 9) and will be active in the transfer market to increase first-team depth/starters.

During Heitz’s tenure, Chicago made a club-record signing when acquiring Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri before the 2022 season. Ahead of the 2023 campaign, they also made back-to-back club-record outbound transfers when respectively sending homegrown goalkeeper Gaga Slonina and Colombian international striker Jhon Durán to English Premier League clubs Chelsea and Aston Villa.

“I’m excited to continue leading the Chicago Fire, and I’d like to thank Joe Mansueto for his trust and support,” said Heitz. “Despite falling short of our collective goal to qualify for the playoffs, we have made improvements and professionalized the organization in multiple areas to be consistently competitive in the coming seasons and over the long term.

“We are confident that by adding the right pieces, we will be a strong contender in the Eastern Conference next season and become a team that brings more success and joy to our fans each week.”

Heitz, who previously led Swiss side FC Basel, oversees all aspects of the Fire’s soccer operations and has placed a greater emphasis on developing players from within their academy. Additionally, the Fire have implemented a global scouting network, added an MLS NEXT Pro team and partnered with Swiss club FC Lugano.

Pelzer joined the Fire after a distinguished 16-year playing career and reports directly to Heitz.