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Coach Raphael Wicky looking for stability with Fire

Wicky played with five clubs during his 16-year playing career. And though he has spent most of his time coaching with FC Basel, the last two years have not brought stability.

Raphael Wicky is in his first season coaching the Fire.
Courtesy of the Fire

Soccer players and coaches move around a lot. They don’t have time for long adjustment periods and must get acclimated to new surroundings quickly to be successful.

New Fire coach Raphael Wicky is no different, and that experience is helping him during his first months with the team.

‘‘I’ve been in football for 25 years, and that means I know how the business goes and I move around,’’ Wicky told the Sun-Times. ‘‘As a player, I moved around. And even in over 10 years since I started coaching, I’ve moved around.’’

Wicky was with five clubs during his 16-year playing career. And though he has spent most of his coaching career with FC Basel, the last two years have not brought stability. He was sacked by Basel in July 2018, moved to the United States’ under-17 men’s national team last March and joined the Fire in late December.

Wicky, whose professional career started in 1993, knows that kind of helter-skelter lifestyle comes with the territory in soccer.

‘‘I know that a coach usually does not have five, seven, 10 years in one spot,’’ Wicky said. ‘‘I’m not surprised about this. When I lost my job with Basel — and that happens, unfortunately, all the time to coaches, that’s just our business — then you look for new opportunities. Then you have to find out for yourself what you’re going to do.’’

After he was fired by Basel, Wicky knew he wanted to come to the United States. The opportunity with U.S. Soccer came up, giving him an entrance back into American soccer.

Less than a year later, Wicky was hired by sporting director Georg Heitz to coach the Fire, wrapping up a whirlwind period of his life.

‘‘When you choose to become a head coach, you just have to be ready to move,’’ Wicky said. ‘‘Obviously, ideally as human beings and as people, you’d like to be somewhere two, three, four years to also have some time to build something and have some stability, as well, maybe for your family. That’s something I hope to find here in Chicago.’’

Signed for two years with a club option for 2022, Wicky figures to get some time with the Fire. His soccer philosophy matches Heitz’s, and they have spoken in similar ways about how to build the team.

One task for Wicky is learning about Major League Soccer quickly. Though he played briefly in MLS at the end of his career and has studied the league, Wicky knows there is much to learn before the Fire’s regular-season opener March 1 at Seattle. With the help of assistants such as Frank Klopas and goalkeeping coach Adin Brown, who have spent extensive time in MLS, Wicky feels prepared for the upcoming season after a relatively short time on the job.

‘‘It’s not that I know every single player from every single roster yet, but that’s normal,’’ Wicky said. ‘‘But I know about the difficulties of this league. I’m not going to be surprised about these things because I have followed and I played a little bit in the league. I’ve seen, and I know what the difficulties are.’’