The Chicago Fire Academy has undergone a transformation since previous Academy director Larry Sunderland left the Fire for Portland in Dec. 2015.
Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez took his time to fill the position, even as a number of other coaches left the system. On Friday, the Fire were finally able to announce Cedric Cattenoy as the new technical director of the Fire Academy.
Cattenoy comes from giant French club Paris Saint-Germain, where he worked in the academy there since 2011.
“Cedric’s services were coveted by several other organizations around the world, yet he chose to join the Fire and help our academy become a significant part of our championship program,” Rodríguez said in the club's release. “Not only considered a great teacher of the game by players, he is also an effective and devoted mentor to other coaches."
According to the release, the Fire filled out the Academy's staff with Pascal Bedrossian, Ross Brady and Francisco Murguia as coaches.
News of Cattenoy's first broke in early August, but the Fire held off on the announcement while awaiting Cattenoy's visa and other positions to be filled in the Academy. The staff had already been working with the Academy before this official announcement.
Hiring a foreign director for the Academy, which is comprised of local players, comes with its benefits and challenges. Cattenoy may not be as familiar with the Chicagoland area or young American soccer players, but he does bring other ideas that the players may not have been exposed to otherwise.
Rodriguez explained his reasoning for hiring a foreign Academy director on Sept. 1 when Cattenoy's hiring was all but official.
“My thinking behind it is we’ve had organized soccer through a federation since 1913 and don’t have a male player who in my opinion is of world-class stature," Rodriguez said. "And I mean no offense to all the great players who’ve represented U.S. Soccer, but my definition of world-class means any team in the world would want them. So that suggests to me that we need to do something differently. I think that the time is right to interject a different perspective. So I think having different experiences, different backgrounds in education and in the formation of young players is really important.
"I think having someone with a different experience, with a different skill set just adds to the overall tapestry of the club and of soccer in America. I’m excited by that, I’m excited by some of the changes that are being brought to our academy."