CHICAGO (Nov. 14, 2023) – Chicago Fire FC today announced that Sporting Director Georg Heitz has signed a contract extension. The 2024 MLS campaign will mark Heitz’s fifth season in charge of the Club’s football operations.
Additionally, the Fire has agreed to a contract extension with Technical Director Sebastian Pelzer, who will also return for his fifth season in Chicago.
“I’m pleased that Georg and Sebastian will continue to lead our sporting operations,” said Chicago Fire FC Owner and Chairman Joe Mansueto. “As we continue working toward building a world-class organization deeply connected to the community, Georg and his team have created a strong foundation that will lead to sustained success. Our fans deserve to support a team that is a consistent contender for trophies, and heading into the 2024 season, we are all committed to taking the necessary steps to bring more success to the Chicago Fire.”
Under Heitz’s guidance, the Fire have become a leader in identifying and developing domestic and international talent. The Club has implemented a global scouting operation, added a reserve team, built a multi-Club network by acquiring Swiss Super League side FC Lugano, and placed a greater emphasis on developing players from within the Chicago Fire Academy. Additionally, the Fire has invested more resources in performance, data and analytics, and nutrition, and is in the process of building a state-of-the-art, multi-million-dollar performance center in the heart of Chicago to further enhance its efforts.
“I’m excited to continue leading the Chicago Fire, and I’d like to thank Joe Mansueto for his trust and support,” said Heitz. “Despite falling short of our collective goal to qualify for the playoffs, we have made improvements and professionalized the organization in multiple areas to be consistently competitive in the coming seasons and over the long term. We are confident that by adding the right pieces, we will be a strong contender in the Eastern Conference next season and become a team that brings more success and joy to our fans each week.”
Leading up to the 2023 season, Chicago made back-to-back Club-record moves by transferring Academy product Gaga Slonina and teenage striker Jhon Durán to English Premier League clubs Chelsea F.C. and Aston Villa. The Club has also promoted 10 Homegrown Players to the first team in the last four seasons, including goalkeeper Chris Brady and midfielders Brian Gutiérrez and Mauricio Pineda, who have emerged as key players for the Fire.
Brady and Gutiérrez were recognized as two of the top young players in the League in October after securing spots on the MLS 22 Under 22 list. Gutiérrez, who tallied a team-leading nine assists in 2023, was ranked fifth and became the second straight Fire player to earn a top-five recognition. Meanwhile, Brady earned the 17th spot on this year’s list and was the only goalkeeper featured after notching a career-high eight clean sheets this past season.
Heitz originally joined the Fire on Dec. 20, 2019, after a highly successful nine-year tenure in the Swiss Super League. In his role as Sporting Director, Heitz is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Fire’s football operations. Pelzer joined the Fire as Technical Director on Dec. 28, 2019, following a distinguished 16-year playing career, and reports directly to Heitz.