CHICAGO (March 8, 2019) – The U.S. Soccer Federation has appointed Raphael Wicky as the new head coach of the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team.
The former Swiss international brings 27 years of experience as a player and coach in Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the United States. Wicky most recently coached FC Basel to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 in 2018. He holds a UEFA Pro License and his appointment as head coach at Basel, one of Switzerland’s most successful clubs, came after climbing the ladder as head coach in the club’s youth system at the U-18, U-19 and U-21 levels.
Prior to Basel, Wicky worked in the youth ranks for another of Switzerland’s most-successful clubs, Servette FC, at the U-14, U-15 and U-16 levels. He also spent time as an assistant with the Swiss Under-20 Men’s National Team as well as FC Thun’s U-21 side.
“We are very pleased with the hiring of Raphael, not only because of his impressive player background, but also as a youth and professional coach,” said Nico Romejin, U.S. Soccer Chief Sport Development Officer. “He impressed us with his knowledge of the player pool and his commitment to contribute to the overall Youth National Teams program to develop our next generation of National Team players.”
His playing career featured a 12-year run with the Swiss National Team, during which the midfielder earned 75 caps, highlighted by appearances at the 2006 FIFA World Cup as well as the 1996 and 2004 UEFA European Championships. Wicky spent 11 of his 17 years as a professional with Bundesliga clubs Werder Bremen and Hamburg and finished his career with former Major League Soccer outfit Chivas USA.
“It’s an exciting moment to join U.S. Soccer,” Wicky said. “As a coach, it excites me to be a part of the process and working to help players grow. I’ve been following U.S. Soccer for more than 10 years now, and with the growth of the sport in the United States, I’m really excited to come in and help develop the program.”
Wicky will hold his initial training camp with the U-17 MNT during the first week of April in preparation for May’s Concacaf U-17 Championship, where he will aim to lead the USA to qualification for a record 17th World Cup at the age level. The tournament is set for May 1-16 in Bradenton, Fla. and the USA will take on Canada, Barbados and Guatemala in the group stage.
The 41-year-old transitioned into coaching shortly after his playing career. His first head coaching job came at Servette FC before moving to one of Europe’s top youth systems at FC Basel, leading the U-18, U-19 and U-21 sides to success before taking the helm of the first team in 2017. Wicky guided the senior squad to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, taking down some of Europe’s biggest clubs in the process. He also worked to develop players that would earn lucrative transfers to Europe’s top leagues like Tomas Vaclik, Manuel Akanji and Mohamed Elyounoussi.
As a player, Wicky began his career in his native Switzerland, winning three straight Swiss Cups in a four-year run with FC Sion. From there, Wicky launched a long Bundesliga career with Werder Bremen and Hamburg. He became a stalwart for both squads, making over 200 combined appearances for the two clubs.
Wicky made his first appearance for Switzerland in 1996 and at age 19, was the second youngest player on the squad for the nation’s first-ever appearance at the UEFA European Championship that same year in England. A fixture in the midfield, he went on to make 75 appearances, helping Switzerland back to the 2004 European Championships in Portugal before starting all four matches at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.