Fire set to add Georg Heitz as sporting director, move Nelson Rodriguez to business role

Heitz will report to owner Joe Mansueto, who told the Sun-Times in September he didn’t anticipate any changes to the team’s structure “at the moment.”

SHARE Fire set to add Georg Heitz as sporting director, move Nelson Rodriguez to business role
Nelson Rodriguez is moving exclusively to the business side of the Fire.

Nelson Rodriguez is moving exclusively to the business side of the Fire.

Chicago Fire

The Fire are on the verge of hiring an executive and changing the structure of the franchise.

A source confirmed a report that said the Fire are finalizing an agreement to hire Georg Heitz as sporting director. Heitz will report to owner Joe Mansueto.

Nelson Rodriguez, who had been the Fire’s president and general manager, will serve as president and move to the business side of the franchise. He also will report to Mansueto, who told the Sun-Times in September that he didn’t anticipate any changes to the team’s structure “at the moment.”

“We were just saying how quickly the next season comes around. March is not that far away,” Mansueto said in September. “In parallel, we’ve got to be planning for next year.”

The Fire declined to comment.

Heitz’s previous job in club soccer was with Swiss side FC Basel from 2008 to ’17, when he helped discover stars such as Mohamed Salah and Xherdan Shaqiri. In that time, FC Basel was a domestic powerhouse, winning eight consecutive titles while effectively serving as a feeder team for the biggest and richest clubs in Europe.

Heitz will face challenges with the Fire that are unique to North America.

He’ll have to learn the intricacies of MLS roster rules quickly to give the team a chance to compete in 2020. The Fire have 17 players under contract, no Designated Players, and every part of the lineup could use reinforcement because of departures.

With Heitz in the fold, the Fire’s next piece of business will be finding a coach. They are one of three teams, along with New York City FC and Inter Miami, that have the vacancy.

Rodriguez was hired in September 2015 by former owner Andrew Hauptman to clean up the on-field mess left behind by coach Frank Yallop. Rodriguez tabbed Veljko Paunovic in November 2015, but the duo reached the playoffs once in four years and never won the U.S. Open Cup. Paunovic was fired last month.

The Latest
New duties at high court for U.S. District Judge Robert Dow Jr. could further delay racketeering case of Ald. Edward M. Burke, which Dow has presided over since 2019.
The bodies were discovered two days later by authorities conducting a wellbeing check at the home in the 5700 block of South California Avenue.
David O. Russell’s jaw-droppingly terrible film marks a low point for Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and John David Washington.
Prosecutors said a key piece of evidence allegedly linking Ishmael Simpson to the slaying were his “Yeezy-style shoes” — an apparent reference to rapper and designer Kanye West’s footwear brand.
Spektor is hitting the road in support of “Home, before and after,” with the tour kicking off Oct. 9 at the Chicago Theatre.