After nearly two seasons on the job, Raphael Wicky was fired late Wednesday night as head coach of the Chicago Fire, sources confirmed to Hot Time in Old Town. His firing came shortly after a 2-0 win over New York City FC.
Frank Klopas will take over as interim manager for the remainder of the 2021 season.
Wicky took the fall for a second straight losing season—his Fire were 7-15-6 in 2021, with just one win on the road, on the verge of missing the playoffs yet again. But, Wicky’s failure wasn’t entirely his fault. He was given an incomplete roster to start the 2020 season, most of which was carried over to 2021 in an effort to build “continuity” by sporting director Georg Heitz. In Robert Berić, Gastón Giménez, and Ignacio Aliseda, Wicky was saddled with three of the weakest designated players in Major League Soccer. When it was clear there were roster holes heading into the 2021 season, the team signed more unproven prospects like Chinonso Offor and Jhon Espinoza, and let go of productive veterans like CJ Sapong and Djordje Mihailovic in the process. Wicky publicly said all the right things, but privately there were rumors he was very displeased with what he was handed. How could he not be?
Yes, Wicky himself was young, unproven, and made plenty of mistakes. And yes, it seemed, at times, he didn’t have control of his fractured group. But it’s doubtful any head coach could have consistently won with this roster. In many ways, Wicky was set up to fail.
When his Fire teams were clicking, they were capable of playing beautiful, free flowing, attacking football. But those games were far too few during his time as head coach. In pro sports, the coach is always the first one to take the fall. This move had to happen, but the Fire can’t expect the next guy to have better results without a hardcore roster revamp in the off season.
TyrusRose, the Fire insider Twitter account, first dropped the news that Wicky was out on Twitter, before the first ball was even kicked Wednesday night. Tyrus floated the idea of Bob Bradley as the next head coach. Bradley, who is likely leaving LAFC after the season, would be perfect. He knows the game and the league inside and out, and in his first stint in Chicago he guided the Fire to an MLS Cup. But it’s hard to believe he would come back to Chicago for any amount of money without knowing he had control over the roster, especially after what we’ve seen the last two seasons.
As for Wicky, there’s no telling what’s next. Wherever he lands, it should go better than it did here.