The Chicago Fire are three days out from their first preseason match against the Philadelphia Union, and Raphael Wicky is happy with more than just the weather at the team’s training facility in Tampa, Fla.
“Everything’s good. We really enjoy being here,” Wicky said. “Obviously it’s a little warmer than in Chicago. We’re outside. The players work really hard. Everyone’s in a good mood, and the trainings are going well. We’re excited to be here.”
After this afternoon’s training, Wicky said he’s especially happy with the intensity his team is showing.
“Everyone wants to prove, everyone wants to earn a spot. That’s normal. The important thing is that we keep that up over the full season,” the new Fire coach said.
There’s no doubt every player is trying to impress Wicky, whether it’s new striker and designated player Robert Beric looking to make a good first impression, or players fighting for a contract, like 2020 MLS SuperDraft pick Jonathan Jimenez, or former Fire players Elliot Collier and Jonathan Campbell, who are in camp trying to earn a spot.
For three of the players there—Fire academy standouts Alex Monis, Javier Casas, and Allan Rodriguez, it’s about learning something now, and making a strong impression for the future.
“It’s good for them. When you are 15, 16 years old, or 17, and you can train with the first team, it’s a privilege, and I told them that,” Wicky said. “I think they’re doing a good job. I think they feel that it’s a big step. Everything is faster. Everything is stronger. They have to think faster, but they are doing a good job, and so far I am happy with them. It’s just important that the day they go back to the academy, they have to have the same mentality in training that they have here.”
It’s a new season with a new coaching staff and a lot of new players, so optimism is high at the moment. For Wicky, it’s about keeping that rolling—and even building on it—when things get tough.
“It’s something we speak of with the team. It’s not gonna be always easy. It’s not gonna be always going upwards in a season. And then, we have to try to stay positive, and all stick together, going in the same direction. That’s important. But, the chemistry and the mentality is really good, so far,” he said.
Here’s the entire 2020 Fire Training Camp roster, as of this week:
Goalkeepers: Kenneth Kronholm, Gabriel Slonina, Connor Sparrow
Defenders: Jonathan Bornstein, Francisco Calvo, Jonathan Campbell+, Jonathan Jiménez^, Nikolaos Kainourgios+, Johan Kappelhof, Miguel Ángel Navarro, Mauricio Pineda, Andre Reynolds II, Nicholas Slonina, Jesús Vázquez+
Midfielders: Micheal Azira, Brandt Bronico, Javier Casas*, Raheem Edwards, Przemysław Frankowski, Jeremiah Gutjahr, Fabian Herbers, Álvaro Medrán, Djordje Mihailović, Allan Rodríguez*
Forwards: Robert Berić, Elliot Collier+, Alex Monis*, CJ Sapong
*Chicago Fire Academy Player
^Unsigned 2020 MLS SuperDraft Pick