Veljko Paunovic

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Veljko Paunovic signs contract extension with Chicago

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The Chicago Fire announced head coach Veljko Paunovic has signed a three-year contract extension at the club.

The club release states the extension is for two seasons, with a club option for a third. Before signing back on, he was out of contract at the end of the 2018 season.

Chicago finished 10th in the Eastern Conference this past season, but it’s clear the Fire ownership group sees its current situation as a work in progress. In fact, Paunovic used the word “project” to describe where he is currently at with the club.

“I feel excited about this project as I was the very first day three years ago when I became a part of the Chicago Fire Football family,” said Paunovic. “I’m also very grateful for this new opportunity with the club and the values that I’m fully aligned and committed to representing in every city and field around the globe and US.”

That said, he’s making some bold predictions for the coming year. “Get ready to lift the trophy this year,” Paunovic said.

“We believe the foundation we are setting and the standards we are demanding are the right ones in developing our championship program,” Fire president and general manager Nelson Rodriguez said in the club release. “Continuity is a critical element in that process and retaining Pauno for the next few years as a leader in that effort was an important off-season objective.”

Paunovic’s managerial position is his first with a professional club. Before coming to Chicago, the 41-year-old was in charge of the Serbian national team’s youth squad, managing their U-18, U-19, and U-20 teams at various stages. Before managing, Paunovic was a player with a number of clubs, mostly in the Spanish league with Atletico Madrid, Mallorca, and Oviedo. He also finished his career with the Philadelphia Union, making 17 appearances for the MLS club.

New coach calls Chicago Fire “a hurt lion ready to unleash all its power”

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The Chicago Fire have nabbed a man with solid resume as their new head coach.

Veljko Paunovic is the name — you may remember him from Atletico Madrid or a brief stint with the Philadelphia Union — and the 38-year-old just led Serbia to the U-20 World Cup title.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup ]

He also just dropped a team description worthy of an all-time great.

“I have a huge amount of energy, knowledge and experience to deliver to our team and our community,” he added.  “Soccer is a lifestyle that I live and preach my whole life. I love this kind of challenge, where you have to build a champion by giving your best in every moment.  I see the Chicago Fire as a hurt lion ready to unleash all its power.”

Upon reading that, I’m prepared to move to Chicago and work for the man. I want to be a lion that unleashes all its power. Show me, Veljko. Show me how!

You’ll remember that Serbia beat the U.S. in penalty kicks during the World Cup quarterfinals, but carried the play against the Baby Yanks.

Cue the Nemanja Vidic to MLS rumors, please and thank you.

What do you think of the hire? Surely there’s a crowd that will be disappointed it isn’t an American or MLS mainstay, but the hire is an intriguing move by Chicago GM Nelson Rodriguez.