As he spoke publicly for the first time since being named head coach of the Chicago Fire FC, Raphael Wicky's enthusiasm for his new job was obvious.
"There is something going on in this Club, and this is an exciting time for me to be the head coach," Wicky said.
Monday was the first day the 2020 Fire came together for training. When the 42 year-old from Switzerland addressed his new team, he told them nothing is more important than playing hard at all times.
"I want a team of passion. You have to run and fight. You can do mistakes on the field, technically, as long as you run and play together and for yourself and teammates and fans," said Wicky.
Fire midfielder Djordje Mihailovic thinks Wicky's message was well received.
"You could tell from his first statements that we’re going to have to fight for each other, kill for each other. We’re going to have to have each other’s backs," Mihailovic said. "We make a bad pass here and there, but as long as we have each other’s backs, we’ll be successful in the end."
"He wants to see your response, your reaction. He wants to see emotion," added Fire forward CJ Sapong. "Those are things that, come September, come October, are going to get you the extra point you need to get into the playoffs."
Wicky represents a part of a new era for the Fire. In addition to its new coach, the team has new ownership, new branding, a new logo, and a new home venue in Soldier Field, but Wicky hopes fans will be patient as he works to build a winning team.
"Building a team is really exciting, but building a team also takes time. It's not going to be done overnight," he said.