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Nelson Rodriguez resigns as Chicago Fire president

His five year run in Chicago is over. “I always tried to do what was best for the Club.”

Chicago Fire FC president Nelson Rodriguez has resigned after five years with the club. The Fire made the announcement Monday morning.

Club sources tell Hot Time in Old Town COO John Urban will take over as interim president, and the club will start a search for Rodriguez’s replacement.

“I began discussing my future with Owner and Chairman Joe Mansueto last month. At this transformational time for the organization, and after five years with the Fire, I’m ready for a change and I’m looking forward to taking on new challenges,” Rodríguez said in a press release. “I always tried to do what was best for the Club and I am grateful to Joe for his enormous support and to Andrew Hauptman for the opportunity originally given to me. The Club is moving in an exciting direction and I wish the team, the staff and fans the very best of luck.”

Rodriguez joined the Fire in September 2015 as General Manager. He was boosted to President and GM in 2018. In 2020, he shifted to a business-only role, leaving soccer operations to the club’s new sporting director, Georg Heitz. Rodriguez oversaw the club’s move back to the City of Chicago and Soldier Field.

“For five years, Nelson has dedicated himself and given his everything to the Club,” Mansueto said in a news release. “He has helped me tremendously over the course of our first year working together and I am grateful for that. We thank him for his loyal service to the Fire and we wish him all the best moving forward.”

Because of the team’s failures on the field, and his decision to ban the “Sector Latino” supporter group for violating the Fan Code of Conduct, Rodriguez was a highly controversial figure among many Fire fans. His work initially resulted in a strong 2017 team that featured German superstar Bastian Schweinsteiger. After that lone playoff appearance, however, the team struggled on the field for the rest of his time in Chicago.

It’s widely known that Rodriguez’s family remained in New Jersey during his five years in Chicago, meaning he’ll have the chance to spend more time with them, and perhaps find a job closer to home.

Prior to joining the Fire, Rodríguez worked for the U.S. Soccer Federation, Chivas USA, Major League Soccer (EVP, Competition and Game Operations), Soccer United Marketing (SVP, International Business), MetroStars (Director, Soccer Operations) and Lafayette College (Head Coach, Men’s Soccer).