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Chicago Fire axe Veljko Paunovic amid offseason of change

Alejandro Moreno says the Seattle Sounders had to "hold on" for 60 minutes vs. Toronto in the MLS Cup.

Veljko Paunovic has been fired as manager of the Chicago Fire, the club announced on Wednesday.

The move follows Joe Mansueto's takeover of the club in September, as well as the announcement that the Fire will play its home games at Soldier Field next season.

"Four years ago, Pauno and the staff accepted a challenge to help establish a football culture at the Fire," said club president and GM Nelson Rodríguez in a statement. "Their efforts helped revitalize the Club with a competitive spirit and a dedication to always putting football first. Pauno and his staff were relentless in their devotion to the Club and for that we are immeasurably thankful."

In terms of on-field performance, the move is not a surprise. Paunovic's record in Chicago was 41-58-37 over the course of his four seasons in the Windy City. Paunovic was unable to build upon the 2017 campaign that witnessed the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the lone trip to the postseason during his tenure. For that reason, Paunovic's position was vulnerable.

Rodriguez had previously said that Paunovic would return for the 2020 campaign. Mansueto, who made his initial investment in the Fire in 2018, also appeared to give both Paunovic and Rodriguez his support upon completing his acquisition of the club, though he noted at the time that that the front office and coaching staff would be evaluated.

That evaluation has now resulted in Paunovic's dismissal. The roster has been in flux as well, with Schweinsteiger retiring, Nemanja Nikolic departing and Dax McCarty traded to Nashville.

There are now five managerial vacancies in MLS, with Chicago joining New York City FC, Orlando City, the Montreal Impact and Real Salt Lake. Expansion side Inter Miami CF has also not named a manager. 

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