Gaston Gimenez and the Fire lost their first game after Raphael Wicky was dismissed, dropping Sunday’s match to Toronto FC. | Courtesy of the Fire
Three days after Wicky was dismissed, the Fire continued playing out the string on their 2021 season and surrendered the last three goals of the game.
The Fire began life after Raphael Wicky with a 3-1 loss to Toronto FC on Sunday in Toronto. And the defeat felt similar to games that cost Wicky his job.
Three days after Wicky was dismissed, the Fire continued playing out the string on their 2021 season and surrendered the last three goals of the game. Team legend Frank Klopas – not a candidate to be Wicky’s full-time replacement – is leading the Fire while academy coach Ludovic Taillandier is serving as an assistant, along with goalkeeping coach Adin Brown.
Obviously, the Fire didn’t expect to see themselves in position, finishing a lost year with an interim coach. But for a host of reasons, Wicky was unable to get the points to stay in realistic playoff contention and save his job, which he officially lost Thursday.
“Ultimately this is what I always say, it’s professional sports and we all depend on results in the end and we didn’t deliver the results that we all wanted to deliver,” sporting director Georg Heitz said Thursday.
Though the roster should probably be rebuilt again, whoever’s coaching the Fire in 2022 will have a couple promising pieces to build around from the current team.
Gabriel Slonina, who’s making an increasingly convincing argument to be the Fire’s starting goalkeeper next year, stopped Yeferson Soteldo’s 36th-minute penalty. Toronto FC had the opportunity to equalize after the Fire’s Jonathan Bornstein was called for a hand ball in the penalty area.
Slonina, however, didn’t get much help Sunday.
Just 17 and making his fifth consecutive start, Slonina had three saves but couldn’t keep out Marco Delgado’s deflected 44th-minute strike that evened the match. TFC then took a 2-1 lead in the 56th minute when Slonina had no chance to top Omar Gonzalez’s powerful header from the center of the box. Soteldo then clinched the win for Toronto in the 70th minute.
On Wednesday, in what turned out to be Wicky’s final game in charge, Slonina had three saves for his first professional victory, a 2-0 Fire win over New York City FC.
Designated player Robert Beric gave the Fire a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute, giving the beleaguered striker his fifth goal of the year and second in as many games. Unlike Slonina, it’s hard to see Beric sticking around to play for whoever takes Wicky’s spot.
NOTES: Attacker Fabian Herbers was removed due to injury in the 21st minute and replaced by Ignacio Aliseda. Moments earlier, Herbers had the assist on Beric’s goal.
* Defender Francisco Calvo (right thigh) replaced Miguel Navarro in the 75th minute, making his first appearance since Aug. 21.
* The Fire also dismissed director of performance Ben Donachie. The team suffered a rash of injuries during training camp and the first half of the season.