The Chicago Fire has signed Frenchman Cedric
Cattenoy to a three-year contract extension as its academy technical director.
This is Cattenoy’s fourth season with the Fire after being recruited from Paris St. Germain, where he spent 16 years working in its academy program at the famed Camp des Loges.
“In just three years, Cedric has provided incredible value to our club,” said Fire president and general manager Nelson Rodríguez. “Under his direction, we have signed three first-team players developed by our academy and seen 15 different academy players invited to youth national team camps. In addition, he has mentored our coaching staff such that each holds an 'A' license and has successfully implemented our club curriculum with our various Chicago Fire Juniors affiliate programs."
Rodríguez stressed that keeping Cattenoy was essential in continuing the development of the Fire's playing identity, like it did in re-signing head coach Veljko Paunovic, who was retained at the end of his three-year contract despite a very disappointing 2018 season.
The Fire recently signed defender Andre Reynolds II and goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina as its 12th and 13th Homegrown Player signings. At 14, Slonina is the youngest Homegrown signing in MLS history.
Its best Homegrown signing in recent years is Djordje Mihailovic, who was signed in 2017 and debuted for the U.S. national team this winter, starting as the attacking midfielder in its wins over Panama and Costa Rica.
Mihailovic was a member of the 2015 Fire U-17/18 team that won the Development Academy championship team. Other members of that team included Cameron Lindley, who plays for Orlando City, and Andrew Gutman, the 2018 Hermann Trophy winner who signed with Scottish champion Celtic out of Indiana and is playing on loan at North Carolina FC.
The top prospect in the current Fire academy is 16-year-old Damian Las, who is the No. 1 keeper on the U.S. U-17 national team and considered one of the most talented keepers to emerge from the youth ranks in recent years.
“I’m proud of the progress that our Fire Academy has made over the past three years,” said Cattenoy. “We have implemented a developmental plan that is closely aligned with the first team and is designed to help these talented young men achieve their dream of becoming professional soccer players.”
Cattenoy’s academy staff was also retained: Brian Roberts, the director of performance, advisory and support services, staff coaches Jeff DeGroot, Selim Talbi, Michael Barshai, Ross Brady, Nate Boyden and Igor Dimov, athletic trainer Tyler Golden, senior youth development operations coordinator Kevin Isaac and performance, advisory and support services coordinator Felix Yu.