Ezra Hendrickson talks to Darlington Nagbe when he was temporary head coach of the Columbus Crew earlier this year. (Alexandria Skowronski-USA TODAY Sports)
CHICAGO – Chicago Fire FC Wednesday announced it named Ezra Hendrickson the 10th fulltime head coach in team history.
With more than 25 years of domestic experience, Hendrickson joins the Fire with a proven track record of success in MLS, winning 15 major trophies as a coach and a player.
“I am immensely proud and humbled to be named the head coach of Chicago Fire FC,” Hendrickson said in a statement. “There are many people to thank. Firstly, I am grateful to our owner Joe Mansueto for this incredible opportunity. It’s a responsibility that I do not take lightly. Georg Heitz, Sebastian Pelzer and Eddie Rock have also been supportive throughout this process, and I am excited to work alongside them as colleagues. We must be a team in order to achieve our goals.
“To the Fire faithful, I know that we have a great deal of work ahead of us to get the Club back to its days of MLS dominance. It will not be easy, but I know that your continued support of our Club will be necessary and appreciated by myself, the players and the staff. I’m a big believer that a team’s identity should align with the reputation of the city it represents. When I think of Chicago, I think of hardworking, successful people and that is the identity this team will adopt. We will always give you our best efforts and make you proud to wear the Fire colors.”
A native of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Hendrickson, 49, comes to Chicago after spending the past 13 seasons coaching domestically and internationally. Most recently, he was the lead assistant coach for the reigning MLS champions Columbus Crew (2019-2021), where he helped the team capture the 2020 MLS Cup and the 2021 Campeones Cup.
“We’re extremely pleased to welcome Ezra to the Club as our new head coach,” sporting director Georg Heitz said in a statement. “He is a very well-respected coach who has had a highly successful career in MLS. Ezra has worked in winning environments alongside some of the most accomplished managers in the league, and we are confident that he is the right person to help us achieve our goals. I look forward to beginning our work together during what will be an important offseason for the Club.”
Hendrickson, a former member of the MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), began his coaching career with Seattle Sounders FC, serving as an assistant coach for Sigi Schmid (his 240 regular season wins are tied for the most in league history), from 2009-2014. During this stretch, Hendrickson helped lead the Sounders to four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles (2009, 2010, 2011, 2014) and an MLS Supporters’ Shield (2014), before becoming head coach of Seattle Sounders FC 2 in the USL Championship from 2015-17.
While working with the Sounders, Hendrickson served as an assistant coach for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines during 2018 World Cup qualifying (2015-18). Following his time in Seattle, he reunited with Schmid in Los Angeles in 2018, spending one season as an assistant coach for the LA Galaxy, before joining the Crew on July 3, 2019.
As a player, Hendrickson won eight trophies during 12 MLS seasons (1997-2008). The former defender was an MLS champion with three different teams (2002, 2004, 2008) and won three MLS Supporters’ Shield trophies (1998, 2002, 2008), the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2001) and the Concacaf Champions’ Cup (2000).
Hendrickson made 266 MLS regular season appearances (225 starts) for the MetroStars (1997), LA Galaxy (1997-2003), Dallas Burn (2003), D.C. United (2004), Chivas USA (2005-06) and Columbus Crew (2006-08). Prior to joining MLS, Hendrickson spent time with the Des Moines Menace (1994) and the New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers (1995-1996).
Hendrickson holds a U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) “Pro” License. His coaching staff will be named at a later date.