With just one win and four points through the opening seven games, Chicago Fire sporting director Georg Heitz’s continuity-will-bring-wins plan has not worked. The Fire’s injury plagued attack is struggling miserably to score goals, and while there are still 27 games remaining, the club faces an uphill battle to reach its stated goal for the season, a spot in the MLS Playoffs.
Heitz spoke at length with Hot Time in Old Town last week. Much of our conversation covered the departure of Djordje Mihailovic to CF Montreal, but there were other topics, too. Here are five key takeaways:
“Rapha is not a friend of mine”
Right or wrong, there’s a thought among most Fire fans that Heitz and head coach Raphael Wicky are a package deal. Both men are from Switzerland, and both previously worked at FC Basel. But Heitz was quick to say while he respects Wicky professionally, the two are not pals.
“Rapha is not a friend of mine, to make this very clear,” Heitz said. “I have not worked directly with Rapha in Switzerland. He was an academy coach when I was the sporting director of the first team, so I never worked directly with him. I still think that he is hardworking, he has very good ideas, very good communication, good language toward the players, but also toward the public. I really like his style. In the end, and this isn’t only applicable for Rapha, but also for me, in the end it’s professional sports, and it’s also about results.”
After a recent home loss, Heitz and technical director Sebastian Pelzer had a frank conversation with Wicky
“He’s doing a good job, but obviously we don’t have enough points,” Heitz said. “That’s also one part of the story. We analyze everything all the time, we saw a couple of things from our side, not only me, but also Sebastian, that we’d like to discuss, that we’d like to ask, which is our job, that is clear.”
Despite the losses, Heitz still believes in the roster he built
“I believe in the talent of these players, absolutely,” he said. “We’ll need a couple of players to come back from injury, that’s also clear. Sounds like an excuse, but it was significant. Seven players. I think we should be careful and not judge too early.”
That said, summer signings are possible, but not guaranteed
“Could be. We have possibilities when you look at our roster. But we also have to be aware of the fact that we will have players back from injury. There might be one or two additions. There might be,” Heitz said, putting a heavy emphasis on the word might.
Heitz believes the team’s struggling players, like midfielder Gastón Giménez, will bounce back
“I think one of the most important things is that you show the player that you always believe in him, because no player is always performing well,” Heitz said of Giménez, one of the Fire’s highest paid players. “You should stick to your decision that you have signed the player, back him, try to speak with the player, ask him whether everything is ok, or something is wrong. But, he can do better. He must do better. That’s clear.”