CHICAGO – It’s hardly been a secret to supporters or those around Major League Soccer the past week, but on Wednesday the club made it official when it comes to their new manager.
In hopes of bringing their club towards the top of the league, Chicago Fire FC is hiring a man with a track record of success in MLS.
Reported for over a week to be in final negotiations, the club officially hired Columbus Crew lead assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson as their new manager on Wednesday morning. The club plans to hold a formal introductory news conference early next week.
He arrives in Chicago with 13 years of domestic and international coaching experience which followed a 12-year career in the MLS as a player.
“I am immensely proud and humbled to be named the head coach of Chicago Fire FC,” said Hendrickson in a statement released by the club. “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.”
“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,” continued Hendrickson. “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.”
The 49-year old Hendrickson spent the last three seasons in his role with the Crew, aiding the team’s run to the 2020 MLS Cup. He began his coaching career with Seattle Sounders FC in 2009 and stayed there through 2014 before taking the job with the club’s USL franchise – Seattle Sounders FC 2 – from 2015-2017.
He would spend one year as an assistant for the LA Galaxy in 2018 before going to Columbus in 2019.
“We’re extremely pleased to welcome Ezra to the Club as our new head coach,” said Sporting Director Georg Heitz in a statement released by the club. “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.”
As a player, Hendrickson made 266 appearances in 12 seasons with six different MLS clubs, winning a title with the LA Galaxy in 2002, DC United in 2004, then the Crew in 2008.