AcademyStory

CHICAGO (July 6, 2021) – Chicago Fire FC today announced that it has extended the contract of Academy Technical Director Cedric Cattenoy through 2024. Cattenoy joined the Fire in 2016 and has overseen the growth of the Club’s Academy program through player and staff development over the past five years.  

“Throughout his time with the Fire, Cedric has been a great leader for our Academy players and staff, both on and off the field,” said Chicago Fire FC Sporting Director Georg Heitz. “Under his guidance, the Club has seen a record number of players progress to the first team and an MLS NEXT National Championship at the U-19 level. Cedric embodies our Club’s values, and we are very happy that he will continue to guide our young players and coaches in the years to come.” 

Since joining the Fire Academy, Cattenoy has overseen the hiring of full-time coaches and assistant coaches at the U-13 through U-19 age levels, along with a goalkeeper coach, two full-time athletic trainers and a full-time strength and conditioning coach. Additionally, in 2020, five Academy players signed first-team contracts after progressing through the various Academy age groups. Most notably, midfielder Brian Gutiérrez has played in 13 games for the first team, including four starts in 2021. As Technical Director of the Academy, Cattenoy works directly with Heitz and Technical Director Sebastian Pelzer.

The Fire's U-19 Academy team also captured the inaugural MLS NEXT National Championship three days ago in Frisco, Texas. The victory marked the Academy’s third National Championship, with the Fire previously winning the U.S. Soccer Development Academy titles in 2015 and 2010. 

“I would like to thank Georg and Sebastian for their continued belief in me and my staff,” said Cattenoy. “This is an exciting project, and I feel very fortunate to work at a Club where everyone has a shared vision. To see the development of our Academy players, the Homegrown players getting playing time and the U-19 team win a National Championship is very motivating and it’s a testament to the hard work and commitment from all of our players, coaches and staff. I look forward to continuing to build on the successes that we’ve had for several more years.”  

As Academy Technical Director, Cattenoy will continue to direct the development and implementation of the Fire Academy’s curriculum, guide player and staff development, and work in conjunction with the first team staff to ensure continuity from the Academy system up to the professional level. Along with physical development, the Academy also provides programming that focuses on players’ overall well-being, which has been instrumental in helping players successfully transition from the Academy to the first team.

Cattenoy joined the Fire from the Paris Saint-Germain Academy, where he served in various capacities for 15 years. Over the course of his career, Cattenoy has helped produce more than 75 professional players, including Paris Saint Germain central back Presnel Kimpembe and Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman. Both recently played for France in the UEFA EURO 2020. 

The Chicago Fire Academy competes in MLS NEXT, the elite youth development platform created by MLS last August. Cattenoy will also be tasked with overseeing the preparations for the Club to compete in the new professional league announced by MLS in June. The league will begin play in 2022 and will complete the player pathway, from the youth development platform MLS NEXT to the professional ranks.  

Cattenoy holds his UEFA “A” and youth licenses, an executive masters from the National Institution of Sports and Performance Expertise, his B.E.E.S. second degree football coach diploma and his goalkeeper coach qualifications. 

Chicago Fire FC Academy Staff (as of July 6, 2021) 

Cedric Cattenoy, Technical Director 

Ludovic Taillandier, U-19 Head Coach 

Patrick Nyarko, U-19 Assistant Coach 

Ross Brady, U-17 Head Coach 

Jon Forsythe, U-17 Assistant Coach 

Selim Talbi, U-15 Head Coach 

Irakli Mania, U-15 Assistant Coach 

Michael Barshai, U-14 Head Coach 

Mike Choquette, U-14 Assistant Coach 

Johnny Demergis, U-13 Head Coach 

Henry Aiyenero, U-13 Assistant Coach 

Igor Dimov, Goalkeeper Coach 

Matt Pearson, Scout 

Nathan Steinmetz, Fitness Coach 

Rachael Jankowsky, Senior Coordinator for Player Education & Wellbeing 

Felix Yu, Senior Coordinator of PASS & Mental Performance Coach 

Chris Toone, Physical Therapist 

Stephanie Leubbe, Physical Therapist 

Kevin Isaac, Manager of Operations 

Kira Leichter, Coordinator of Operations

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