The Georg Heitz era for the Chicago Fire has thus far resulted in zero playoff appearances in three seasons, but despite the shortcomings of the past three years, he’ll be back in 2023.
Heitz, the club sporting director, as well as technical director Sebastian Pelzer, both had contracts expiring at the end of this season. However, the pair had their options exercised for another year, the club announced today.
The decision to bring Heitz and Pelzer back occurred despite a large amount of scrutiny from fans and media alike. Without any prior MLS experience, Heitz has built rosters that are unbalanced, and that has resulted in a lack of results. The Fire have also spent a significant amount of money in the last three years; for instance, the Fire have paid around $34 million on transfers in that time (Transfermarkt) and had the fifth-highest payroll in the league this season (MLSPA).
For all of the negativity that has surrounded Heitz’s time as sporting director, there have certainly been some positive contributions. Last year, the Fire signed Jhon Durán, who is now emerging as of South America’s top young strikers, and Federico Navarro has been a success as well. A huge number of homegrown players have been signed, and some, such as Mauricio Pineda and Brian Gutiérrez, have been major contributors. However, there have been far more misses than hits, and players like Ignacio Aliseda, Chinonso Offor, Stanislav Ivanov, Kacper Przybyłko, and Jairo Torres have certainly not lived up to expectations.
Joe Mansueto’s vote of confidence in his staff is certainly a bold one, and it remains to be seen whether or not it will pay off. If the Fire are going to finally get back to the playoffs in 2023, which should certainly be the minimum expectation, there will have to be business this offseason, and for Heitz and Pelzer, they simply have to get it right.