Chivas USA hire Fraser to lead the way in 2011
Chivas USA ushered in a new era on Tuesday by leaning on one of the steadiest figures in Major League Soccer, announcing Robin Fraser as the sixth full-time head coach in franchise history.
The announcement ends a more than two-month search to replace Martín Vásquez, who was let go after his first season on the job and an 8-18-4 record with the Goats. The team failed to reach the postseason for the first time since their 2005 inaugural season under Vásquez, who came in as a highly sought-after assistant from Bayern Munich.
Now the team has perhaps the most widely acclaimed assistant in MLS in Fraser, who played 10 seasons in the league and was a two-time MLS Defender of the Year (1999, 2004). He’s spent the last three seasons as an assistant with Real Salt Lake, helping build head coach Jason Kreis’s team into a perennial powerhouse in the league and helping discover and develop the talents of 2010 Visa Defender of the Year Jamison Olave and fellow Best XI selection Nat Borchers.
The Chivas USA job is the first head coaching job for Fraser, who retired from his playing days in 2005 and joined the RSL staff before the 2007 season. He was reportedly one of three final candidates for the job, including former Chicago Fire head coach Denis Hamlett and former Fire and New York Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio.
Fraser inherits a Chivas USA team largely in-flux and which famously lost its two most identifiable figures and co-captains in 2010. Sacha Kljestan joined Belgian side Anderlecht midway through last season and US international defender Jonathan Bornstein opted for a shot with Mexican club Tigres after the season, leaving the team with a mandate to rebuild quickly in hopes of staying afloat in a deep and competitive Western Conference.
The team has also parted ways this offseason with Giancarlo Maldonado and Marcelo Saragosa, as well as Alex Zotinca and Eduardo Lillingston. They picked up longtime Kansas City veteran and former US international Jimmy Conrad in Stage 2 of last month’s Re-Entry Draft, and traded for youngster Tristan Bowen and veteran Alejandro Moreno to help shore up an attack anchored by youngster Justin Braun.
Fraser is also expected to hire RSL’s Greg Vanney as an assistant at Chivas USA, according to reports. Vanney was teammates with Fraser on the Los Angeles Galaxy, and now is the director of the RSL-Arizona youth academy program.
Fraser’s first coaching duty will be to scour the upcoming MLS Combine before he takes the reins at the Jan. 13 MLS SuperDraft, where Chivas USA hold the fourth overall pick.
Chivas USA's coaching carousel has taken a number of turns since the club's inaugural season in 2005, when Thomas Rongen led the team briefly before Javier Ledesma took over as an interim coach. Hans Westerhof took over but was gone by 2006, when Bob Bradley led the team to its first postseason berth. The only coach to last longer than one season with Chivas USA is Preki, who led the Goats from 2007-09 before taking the job with Toronto FC.