Just two months after firing Frank Yallop following an eight-win season, the Fire have selected their new head coach to turn things around at Toyota Park.
Veljko Paunovic will be the new leader of the Men in Red, the team announced on Tuesday. Paunovic recently led Serbia to the FIFA U-20 World Cup championship.
"In the face of stiff competition from other global soccer clubs, we are extremely fortunate to have secured our first choice, Veljko Paunovic, as our head coach," Fire general manager Nelson Rodríguez said. "We conducted a thorough search process and, over its course, Pauno consistently graded highest across all of our desired characteristics. He is a champion, teacher of the game and man of great principle and integrity."
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Paunovic, 38, played 16 seasons of professional soccer around the world, including one year in the MLS. Paunovic has spent the last three years coaching the Serbian U-20 team.
"I want to thank Andrew Hauptman, Nelson Rodríguez and the whole executive team of the Chicago Fire, for choosing me, among other great candidates, for the coaching position," Paunovic said. "I am very excited and enthusiastic to start working with the team, to meet the people and fans, who I know are very passionate and loyal to the club. This is the opportunity that I was looking for, to work with the right people, in the right time and the right place."
"I have a huge amount of energy, knowledge and experience to deliver to our team and our community," he added. "Soccer is a lifestyle that I live and preach my whole life. I love this kind of challenge, where you have to build a champion by giving your best in every moment. I see the Chicago Fire as a hurt lion ready to unleash all its power."