Official: Chicago Fire FC name Ezra Hendrickson head coach


Chicago Fire FC have named Ezra Hendrickson head coach, the club announced Wednesday. They are the second MLS club to make official their coaching hire this offseason following Toronto FC's appointment of Bob Bradley.

Hendrickson had been an assistant with Columbus Crew since 2019. He previously was an assistant with the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders, working with highly-respected coaches like Sigi Schmid, Brian Schmezter and Caleb Porter along the way.

“I am immensely proud and humbled to be named the head coach of Chicago Fire FC,” Hendrickson said in a club statement. “There are many people to thank. Firstly, I am grateful to our owner Joe Mansueto for this incredible opportunity. It’s a responsibility that I do not take lightly. Georg Heitz, Sebastian Pelzer and Eddie Rock have also been supportive throughout this process, and I am excited to work alongside them as colleagues. We must be a team in order to achieve our goals.”

The Saint Vincent and the Grenadines native played in 266 MLS games across 1997-2008 before embarking on his coaching career.

“We’re extremely pleased to welcome Ezra to the club as our new head coach,” said sporting director Georg Heitz. “He is a very well-respected coach who has had a highly successful career in MLS. Ezra has worked in winning environments alongside some of the most accomplished managers in the league, and we are confident that he is the right person to help us achieve our goals. I look forward to beginning our work together during what will be an important offseason for the club.”

Chicago’s opening arose on Sept. 30 after the club parted ways with Raphael Wicky, with the Swiss coach originally tabbed ahead of the 2020 campaign. Hendrickson takes over as the storied club have struggled in recent times, missing the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in 10 of the last 12 seasons.

The club are entering a pivotal offseason that could bring plenty of change. Already with one Designated Player spot open following Robert Beric's departure, they have to decide whether to pick up Gaston Gimenez's contract option while Ignacio Aliseda has been linked with a move to Europe. That could free up three DP spots, as well as plenty of roster/cap space already opened after Chicago announced the departure of several key players.

The Fire also boast a youthful core that includes U22 Initiative signing Jhon Jader Duran, defensive midfielder Federico Navarro and key homegrowns Gabriel Slonina, Brian Gutierrez and Mauricio Pineda.

“To the Fire faithful, I know that we have a great deal of work ahead of us to get the club back to its days of MLS dominance,” Hendrickson said. “It will not be easy, but I know that your continued support of our club will be necessary and appreciated by myself, the players and the staff. I’m a big believer that a team’s identity should align with the reputation of the city it represents. When I think of Chicago, I think of hardworking, successful people and that is the identity this team will adopt. We will always give you our best efforts and make you proud to wear the Fire colors.”