Joe Mansueto likened Year One of his ownership of Chicago Fire FC to that of the start of a painting and he’s opening his checkbook to ensure there’s no shortage of brushes and paint available.
“I feel like it’s creating a painting,” he said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. “Last year we got the first coat of the painting down, we got the subjects in the right place. You could kind of see the outline of the painting. This year we go back and we add more depth and detail to the painting and make it even better. We made a lot of progress that first year, we’ve got the basics of the painting done. Now we go back and add more depth and refinement and take it to the next level.”
Part of that refinement is ensuring there's a robust scouting department and academy setup for sporting director Georg Heitz and technical director Sebastian Pelzer, operations he calls “critical to our future.”
“I’m willing to spend as fast as Georg and Sebastian are willing to build in terms of a scouting organization and building up our development of the academy and youth programs,” Mansueto said.
That’s already paid dividends for Chicago, who last week acquired 17-year-old Colombian forward Jhon Jader Duran from Envigado FC, the youngest international signing in MLS history. He is is the club’s third signing of the winter, all of whom 21 or younger: Forward Chinonso Offor (20), defender Jhon Espinoza (21) and winger Stanislav Ivanov (21).
Mansueto said he attended each of the Fire’s home games in their return to Soldier Field and described it as a “tremendous experience,” one he hopes to share with fans in the coming season. He’d also like to build a training facility — the club currently trains back at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview — within the city limits, though Mansueto admitted that’s more of a long-term goal considering how sparse real estate is within the Windy City.
To read the entire article from the wide-ranging interview, click here.