After four seasons, the Chicago Fire fire head coach Veljko Paunovic
CHICAGO – When another season without a postseason appearance ended, owner Joe Mansueto said that the Chicago Fire would take a little time to figure out what they would do with the franchise’s leadership moving forward.
On Tuesday, about a month after the conclusion of their season, they’ve decided to make a significant change when it comes to their play on the field.
Veljko Paunovic was fired as head coach following four seasons with the club in which they finished 45-58-37 with just one appearance in the MLS Playoffs.
“Four years ago, Pauno and the staff accepted a challenge to help establish a football culture at the Fire,” said team general manager Nelson Rodríguez in a statement released by the team. “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 took over for Frank Yallop before the 2016 season as the club started a rebuild with Rodriquez. His first season was rough as the Fire finished 7-17-10 but a breakthrough for a bit was on the horizon.
That came in his second season in 2017, when a roster bolstered by the additions of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Nemanja Nikolic, and Dax McCarty surprised many by spending a majority of the season at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. They’d qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2012 but were eliminated in the knockout round by the New York Red Bulls.
The follow-up to that run was most disappointing for the club, who finished 8-18-8 in 2018 then missed the playoffs again in 2019 with a very inconsistent season. They went 2-10-5 on the road which offset a solid home mark of 8-2-7 and was a big reason they missed the playoffs by three points.
Paunovic’s entire staff was also released from their current contracts but could be retained by the new coaching staff.