Chicago Fire FC head coach Raphael Wicky plans to return to the bench against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday (6 pm ET | TUDN, UniMas, Twitter) after returning from Switzerland, having flown overseas due to a family health matter.
Wicky was absent for Chicago’s last three matches against Nashville SC, D.C. United and Toronto FC while he was with his family in Europe. Even though the matter is still ongoing, Wicky felt it was important to come back to work.
“It was a very tough week, very emotional but I was very happy with the club understanding I needed to go home and be with my family,” Wicky told media on Wednesday. “That meant a lot to me, but now I’m back. The situation with my dad is still ongoing, very critical. But me and my wife decided to come back. There wasn’t much we could do but wait. So we’re back and hoping for the best.
“We all go through difficult situations in life, but we still have jobs,” he continued. “There are certain things that are more important than football – that’s why I went back this week, but I also know my dad would have wanted me to go back to work if there was nothing I could do. You have to keep going.”
Wicky did not go into further specifics about his dad’s condition or ailment.
While he was gone, Wicky was still firmly focused on Chicago's 2021 season. He remained in constant contact with Frank Klopas, who took control of the team on matchdays. He also remotely watched the training sessions, though noted most of their players were in recovery/regeneration sessions rather than normal training due to the condensed schedule.
The team picked up one point in the three games he missed, including a 5-1 setback at Nashville and a frustrating 2-2 draw against D.C. United. They then lost 2-1 to Toronto last weekend despite holding nearly 57% possession and outshooting TFC 31-8.
“It’s way harder to be in a hotel room watching on an iPad than being on the sideline," Wicky said. "You’re helpless, so I didn’t really enjoy that. I’m not happy with the results, like everyone here. I still think the last two performances were positive performances. Of course when you are 2-0 up and don’t win, it feels like a loss. The Toronto game was a loss, but the performance with so much good football, is tough. But as move on, we try to take the positives.”
Chicago sit second-from-last in the Eastern Conference standings with 12 points after 15 matches. They're 10 points below the playoff line as they near the midway point of the season.
The Fire's upcoming schedule will prove challenging, as they travel to face the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners during MLS Week 16. The last time the two teams met, they played a thrilling 3-3 draw in late June.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Wicky said. “We know Philly well, we’ve played them a lot. I know Jim Curtin well, they’re not going to change the way they play. We know what’s going to come to us.”