Amid a change-filled offseason, Chicago Fire FC remain without a head coach or general manager just over 10 weeks out from their March 1 opener at the Seattle Sounders, the defending MLS Cup champions.
Owner and chairman Joe Mansueto knows time is of the essence, too, after the club parted ways with Veljko Paunovic and Nelson Rodriguez has shifted to the club’s business side. Paunovic went 41-58-37 across four seasons, a stretch in which they made the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs just once, in 2017.
“We don’t have much time. We got to get going,” Mansueto told the Associated Press. “So I think the sooner the better. So we’re in the midst of that now. We are pushing it ahead as fast as we can on this. So the sooner the better, is the timetable.”
The Fire are one of three MLS teams without a head coach, with fellow Eastern Conference sides New York City FC and Inter Miami CF the others. Both have been heavily linked to prominent names – see Giovanni van Bronckhorst and NYCFC, as well as Marcelo Gallardo (since debunked) and Miami – but buzz around Chicago has been quieter.
Still, Mansueto is optimistic about the club’s direction. They’ve left behind SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Ill., for Solider Field in the Windy City’s downtown area. The move led to an organizational rebrand, and some veteran players have departed.
German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger retired, forward Nemanja Nikolic left and midfielder Dax McCarty was traded to expansion side Nashville SC. There are several open Designated Player slots, leaving Chicago in a prime position to make a splash with future players, not just its coach and GM.
“It’s a super exciting time to be part of the Fire, because it’s somewhat of a clean slate,” Mansueto said. “We get to kind of rebuild the club.”
For more from Mansueto, check out the full AP story here.