Chicago Fire FC hire Raphael Wicky as new head coach

Raphael Wicky - US U-17 national team coach - with FC Basel

Chicago Fire FC announced their new head coaching hire on Friday, revealing that Raphael Wicky has departed his post as the US Under-17s national team’s coach to move across town to the Fire.

Wicky, 42, brings 27 years of experience as a player and coach in Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the United States. The former Swiss international carries MLS experience, albeit limited, to his new job, having finished his playing career with Chivas USA in 2008. He is the ninth full-time head coach in Fire history.

“I am honored and proud to be named the head coach of Chicago Fire FC,” said Wicky in a club release. “This is a position that comes with a lot of responsibility and I can promise the fans and everyone at the Club that I will work hard and give my all. During conversations with Joe Mansueto and Georg Heitz, I felt that we all shared a similar vision for the club and how to move it forward. That was important to me. Chicago is a world-class sports city and this club has a bright future, both on and off the field. I can’t wait to get started.”

Wicky made a swift transition into coaching after his brief stint at Chivas USA, returning to Switzerland to work at Servette FC, then on to the highly-respected youth system at FC Basel, where he would cross paths with Georg Heitz, who was named Chicago’s sporting director a week ago.

At Basel Wicky trained the club’s U-18, U-19 and U-21 sides before moving up to take charge of the first team for the 2017-18 season, highlighted by a run to the UEFA Champions League round of 16, beating the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Benfica along the way.

“I know Raphael very well from our time together at FC Basel in Switzerland,” said Heitz. “He is a man of high character who fits the philosophy and vision of this Club. He has a fresh, modern approach to football. Raphael has a great appreciation and respect for the sport and because of his time on the pitch, including representing his country at a World Cup, he is able to communicate extremely well with players.

“Raphael, who is familiar with Chicago, has always wanted to coach in MLS. Since he arrived in the US and played here, he has become a student, learning about and studying MLS and what it takes to be successful in this league. We’re thrilled that he will be our new head coach.”

Wicky took over the US U-17s in March and led them on a successful and stylish qualifying campaign for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, finishing second in Concacaf and outscoring opponents 28-5 as several rising MLS academy prospects starred. Wicky holds a UEFA PRO License and is fluent in Spanish, English, French and German.