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Veljko Paunovic Out As Chicago Fire Head Coach [UPDATED]

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The former Serbian international’s four-year stint as head coach is apparently over

MLS: Chicago Fire at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report in The Athletic from Sam Stejskal and Paul Tenorio filed early this morning, the Chicago Fire have sacked head coach Veljko Paunovic.

The club has yet to release an official statement.

In his time as head coach, Paunovic posted a record of 41 wins, 37 draws, and 58 losses. His greatest success came in the 2017 season, when the Fire qualified for the playoffs after a long absence and were briefly in contention for the Supporters Shield.

The news comes weeks after the club officially announced the move to Soldier Field, as well as Bastian Schweinsteiger and Nemanja Nikolic announcing their departures. Yesterday, the impending Dax McCarty trade was made official. And there’s still a brand refresh to be unveiled in the very near future. If the reports about Pauno pan out, it would leave little doubt that new owner Joe Mansueto is looking to rebuild the franchise almost from scratch.

It’s worth noting that club president Nelson Rodriguez told reporters at a media roundtable last month that Paunovic would definitely return for the 2020 season. This leaves several possibilities; either a potential replacement for Pauno suddenly became available and the club felt like they couldn’t pass up the opportunity, Rodriguez knew this was coming and lied to the press last month, or Mansueto overruled Rodriguez in making the decision.

There are lots of unanswered questions right now surrounding the club, besides the obvious one concerning who will replace Pauno. Is Rodriguez’ job next on the chopping block? With all the roster turnover that’s happened and will continue to happen between now and January, what is the plan to rebuild the squad? If the club doesn’t fill the head coach (and, reportedly, sporting director) vacancies soon, who will make time-sensitive roster decisions over the next month?

We’ll have more on this story as it develops.

Update 11:14 AM: The club released it’s official announcement. Along with Pauno being let go, his technical staff has also been released, although they will be allowed to reinterview with the new manager.