Raphael Wicky is out as Chicago Fire coach, the club confirmed on Thursday.
The decision came after one of the Fire's better performances of the season in beating New York City FC 2-0. But with a record of 7-15-6, Chicago's chances of reaching the postseason have long been slim, and the win still left the Fire in 12th place in the 14-team Eastern Conference, 12 points behind Orlando City for the seventh and final play spot.
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Assistant coach Frank Klopas, who managed the club from 2011-13 and later managed Montreal from 2013-15, will be in charge in the interim while a search for a new coach takes place.
Wicky was hired away from his post as the manager of the U.S. Under-17 national team prior to the 2020 campaign, and the Fire fell a point short of reaching the playoffs that year, even as the league expanded the postseason to include 18 teams due to the coronavirus pandemic. Overall, Wicky's regular season record was 12-25-14.
The decision creates more scrutiny on Chicago sporting director Georg Heitz, as the three Designated Players he signed ahead of the 2020 campaign -- forward Robert Beric, winger Ignacio Aliseda and midfielder Gaston Gimenez -- have largely failed to deliver. Both Aliseda and Gimenez were suspended for the Sept. 19 defeat to CF Montreal for violating undisclosed team rules.
Klopas isn't a candidate for the full time job, though he and goalkeeper coach Adin Brown will be back next year.
"I'd like to thank Rapha for his tireless efforts to make us a better Club each day," Heitz said. "We felt this was the right time to notify him that we will not be exercising his 2022 contract option, as we begin to make decisions for next season. Rapha will always be a part of the Fire family, and we wish him all the best for the future."
Prior to managing the U.S. U-17s, Wicky rose through the coaching ranks at FC Basel, eventually managing the first team from Apr. 2017 to July 2018. He had previously coached youth teams with FC Thun and Servette.
As a player Wicky spent time with FC Sion, Werder Bremen, Atletico Madrid, Hamburg SV and now defunct MLS side Chivas USA. At international level, Wicky made 75 appearances for Switzerland, scoring one goal.