Eager Chivas USA players praise Fraser selection

RSL assistant takes the reins for a team in need of a turnaround

CARSON, Calif. - After nearly two months of searching, the wait is over: Chivas USA have a new head coach. The club announced Robin Fraser as its new maestro on Tuesday, and officially introduced the former Real Salt Lake assistant in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

The 44-year-old Jamaica native replaces Martín Vásquez as the club’s head coach and, as a 10-year veteran of MLS himself, he seems to be a popular choice among at least two members of the Goats’ current roster.

“He just has that something special about him,” Chivas USA third-year midfielder Michael Lahoud told MLSsoccer.com in a phone interview on Wednesday. “He seems like someone who keeps his goals realistic and high at the same time. You saw that when he was at Salt Lake; how they progressed from being a team that had seasons like we had this past season to being MLS champions.

“I got that feeling from Robin that the expectations are very high and I’m really looking forward to the season.”

The 2011 season will be the second consecutive year that the Red-and-White must adapt to a new head coach. In 2010, it was Vásquez assuming control after the departure of Preki to Toronto FC. It’s a daunting task, to be sure, but one that the Goats are ready to tackle.

“It’s never an easy process when you go from one coach to another,” Lahoud admitted. “But I think having Robin as a coach is tremendous for our team and our organization. I think his experience is pretty up there with what he’s done as a player and what he’s achieved as a coach.”

Fraser inherits a squad in need of repair. The team finished the 2010 season at the bottom of the Western Conference and failed to make the MLS playoffs for the first time in four years.

“Last year was unacceptable in terms of the results we got because our club is known in the league for setting the bar really high,” Lahoud said. “With Robin, we need to get back to setting the standard really high. We need to be more consistent in terms of our results and, more importantly, making it really hard to play against us. Good teams, whether in MLS or around the world, are always hard to play against. If we can do that, the cohesion and the results will come.”

Fraser announced his intention to overhaul Chivas USA’s team philosophy at Wednesday’s press conference, insisting that the club will be one of perpetual improvement.

“Robin’s been a part of a championship team and he knows what it takes to have a good club,” said new Chivas USA striker Tristan Bowen. “With him having that experience, and the guys that are coming in are excited. Everybody is going to be willing and have an open mind about what Fraser wants and is bringing in. Overall, it’s going to be a great season and we can only get better from what the team did last year.”

Chivas USA will begin their preseason preparations at the end of January in preparation for a March 19th season-opener against Sporting Kansas City. With a new head coach and a host of new signings, it’s likely to be a high-energy few weeks.

“Having a new coach is going to make for a very interesting preseason,” Bowen said. “Players are going to try to prove themselves. Everything is going to be a hundred miles an hour. That’s only going to help the players push themselves. There’s going to be a lot of competition for spots and I think the coaching staff will appreciate that.”