Pauno returns to Fire for fourth season

Photo: Chicago Fire

The Chicago Fire signed head coach Veljko Paunovic to a new contract for two years with an option for a third year.

Paunovic, who was hired after leading Serbia to the 2015 Under-20 World Cup title, will enter his fourth season as head coach.

In 2017, the Fire made the playoffs for the first time since 2012, finishing with a 16-11-7 record, the third best in MLS. But it slumped to 8-18-8 in 2018, dropping to 10th place (out of 11 teams) in the Eastern Conference.

“We believe the foundation we are setting and the standards we are demanding are the right ones in developing our championship program,” said Fire president and general manager Nelson Rodriguez. “Continuity is a critical element in that process and retaining Pauno for the next few years as a leader in that effort was an important off-season objective.”

Paunovic’s staff will again include assistants Marko Mitrovic and Eric Gehrig, goalkeeper coach Aleksandar Saric, strength and conditioning coach Petar Milcanovic, video analyst Nenad Babic and Alex Boler in charge of soccer operations.

“I feel excited about this project as I was the very first day three years ago when I became a part of the Chicago Fire football family,” said Paunovic in a statement. “I’m also very grateful for this new opportunity with the club and the values that I’m fully aligned and committed to representing in every city and field around the globe and U.S."

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