The Chicago Fire’s roster still needs a massive overhaul, but the front office has seen an influx of key decision makers in the last several days. Saturday, just over a week after Georg Heitz was named sporting director and a day after Raphael Wicky was named head coach, the Fire added technical director Sebastian Pelzer.
Sporting director and technical director sound like interchangeable titles, but Pelzer will report to Heitz. He will focus on scouting, both domestically and abroad, and he’ll assist with the football operations budget and team salary cap, according to a statement released by the Fire.
Pelzer previously worked with Heitz at Heusler Werthmüller Heitz AG, Heitz’s soccer consulting firm.
“I have worked closely with Sebastian in the past and we see football in the same way. We share a similar perspective,” Heitz said in the statement. “I’m excited that he has chosen to join us here in Chicago. He is the type of teammate and colleague that we wanted to bring to this club. Sebastian has a great eye for talent, he is a great communicator, and he knows the intricacies of the sport.”
Pelzer, a 39-year-old German, was a defender during his playing career in Germany, Spain and England.
The Fire’s top two technical positions have no experience with Major League Soccer or American soccer in general. The club’s coach spent part of one season in MLS as a player and coached the U.S. under-17 national team for less than a year. MLS’ nuanced rules and regulations are not simple to grasp and master. Team president Nelson Rodriguez is shifting to business side only for the Fire after being the team’s general manager. Rodriguez’s strength as a GM was his ability to navigate the MLS salary cap. His expertise will be useful to a group with no experience in that area.
The new front office has not been put in an easy position to succeed in 2020. The Fire’s roster is half built and lacks marquee players. Heitz and Co. will have to acclimate quickly with 17 players under contract and no designated players.