WEDNESDAY, 12 PM ET: The club officially announced the news on Wednesday afternoon.
“Four years ago, Pauno and the staff accepted a challenge to help establish a football culture at the Fire,” said Fire president and GM Nelson Rodriguez. “Their efforts helped revitalize the Club with a competitive spirit and a dedication to always putting football first. Pauno and his staff were relentless in their devotion to the Club and for that we are immeasurably thankful.”
Paunovic’s staff have also had their respective services discontinued. This includes assistant coaches Marko Mitrovic and Eric Gehrig, goalkeeper coach Aleksandar Saric, along with backroom staff. These staff members will have the opportunity to be retained by the next head coach or for other roles within the Club.
Paunovic was hired by the Fire in November 2015 and led the club over four MLS seasons, qualifying for the playoffs once in 2017 when the Fire finished third in the Eastern Conference. The former Philadelphia Union player arrived in Chicago after guiding Serbia to the 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup title.
The Fire narrowly missed out on the postseason in 2019, finishing three points out of a playoff place (10W-12L-12D). They also missed out in 2016 (7W-17L-10D) and 2018 (8W-18L-8D), finishing in 10th place in the Eastern Conference in both seasons.
Paunovic compiled a 41W-58L-37D record over 136 MLS regular season matches. He also led the team to semifinal appearances in the U.S. Open Cup in 2016 and 2018 and a Round of 16 finish in 2017. The team were ousted in their first Open Cup match in 2019, suffering elimination at the hands of Saint Louis FC.