Veljko Paunovic - Chicago Fire - sidelines

Veljko Paunovic is back in the managerial game.

Paunovic, who led Chicago Fire FC during the 2016-19 seasons, was announced Saturday as the first-team manager of Championship side Reading. The English club’s upcoming league season begins Sept. 12 against Derby County, while they have a Carabao Cup match Sept. 5 against Colchester United.

“With vast experience of top-flight football as both a player and a coach across Europe and in the United States, and with a proven pedigree of successfully working with young up-and-coming footballers on both the domestic and international scene, I am confident Veljko can help take this club forward,” owner Dai Yongge said in a club release.

During his MLS stay, the Croatian manager compiled a 41W-58L-37D record across 136 regular-season matches. Chicago made the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs during the 2017 campaign, but otherwise fell short of postseason aspirations. In the U.S. Open Cup, Paunovic’s Fire made semifinal appearances in the 2016 and 2018 tournaments. 

Reading were previously managed by Mark Bowen, who’s reportedly returning to the director of football role. They finished 14th in the Championship table last year, and last were in the Premier League during the 2012-13 season. 

Paunovic, before his four-year spell in charge of Chicago, won the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2015 with Serbia. He played for the Philadelphia Union in 2011, coming out of retirement for a brief MLS playing stint.