Raphael Wicky on Alvaro Medran turnaround: "I told him what I wasn't happy about"

There were high expectations, both for Alvaro Medran and Chicago Fire FC, entering the 2021 season.

But through the first nine matches of the season, both fell short.

Brought in to be an integral part of the club’s revival, the midfielder wasn’t in the starting XI for the second time this season during a 1-0 loss to FC Cincinnati on June 23, the Fire’s third straight defeat. He also didn't register a point through their first nine games of the year.

Head coach Raphael Wicky felt a heart-to-heart was in order.

"It's my job to have talks with the players. It's my job to tell them when I'm happy with things and when I'm not happy with things,” Wicky said Saturday night. “It’s my job as well to try and make them better. With Alvaro, we have a good relationship and I sat down with him, I don't know, three or four weeks ago, and I told him these points that I'm not happy (about) and you have to do better there.”

Medran has responded with three assists in Chicago's last two matches and the Fire, not coincidently, are unbeaten in those two Soldier Field clashes — a wild 3-3 draw with the Philadelphia Union and Saturday’s 3-0 win over Atlanta United.

“I try to give the player something, and the player then has to react and work on that. In the end of the day, we're all on the same boat, we're never against the player,” Wicky said. "And then, he took that well and then I think these last two games especially, he was very, very good. He showed a lot of personality, he showed a lot of character defensively and with the ball, and that's what I want to see from him.”

Medran set up Ignacio Aliseda to give Chicago a 1-0 lead in the 34th minute. It was the first of Aliseda’s two first-half goals.

Medran, who signed with the Fire in October 2019 after competing for six Spanish teams over the course of six seasons, said he’s in a similar situation as Aliseda, the young Argentine forward.

Playing in a new country can be difficult when things aren’t going well.

“I think Nacho, like me, we’re kind of here by ourselves. We’re alone. So sometimes when things aren’t going so well your confidence lacks a little bit and you’re feeling a little bit down, but I think he’s been doing a great job taking care of himself,” Medran said. "All of us, we’re working together to take care of him as well and he’s been putting in his work in the gym and taking care of himself in training. I think that when you really want it. you put in the effort and the hard work and you can see the results later on on the field. We’re working together and he’s working on it too. He’s an important part of this group.”

So is Medran, who said the collective change in attitude is more responsible for the recent turnaround than Wicky’s tactical change.

“I feel good. I’m training well and I’m doing well but I had a talk with coach and he asked me to give a little bit more of myself, to put in a little bit more effort and to give more Álvaro,” Medran said. “I took that to heart especially against Philadelphia and now I need to give the best of myself. For the individual results maybe, but more than that the collective team itself.”