Coaching next to a friend
CARSON, Calif. (February 22, 2011) - Assistant coach Greg Vanney may be new to Chivas USA, but he has a long history with Goat’s head Coach Robin Fraser. The two men first met over fifteen years ago, when they entered the newly created MLS together. Vanney, who had just graduated from UCLA, was drafted by the Galaxy in the 1996 MLS College Draft. Fraser had joined the Galaxy a month earlier, selected number four overall in the MLS Inaugural Player Draft. From the beginning, the relationship between the two defenders was strong.
"I was wise enough to shut my mouth, listen the veteran guys [like Fraser] and try to learn," said Vanney of his rookie season. "I was a left-back and he was a center-back, and then eventually we were center-backs together. From there, we sparked a relationship."
Fraser and Vanney first started coaching together as players, working with youth teams during the MLS offseason. As their playing careers began to wind down, both men knew coaching was what they wanted to do after they retired. Even though their careers eventually took them to separate teams, they stayed close and talked about soccer often.
A few years after he retired, Fraser began to attract head coaching interest while working as an assistant with Real Salt Lake. It became clear that of the two friends, he would be the one to get the first shot as an MLS coach. Vanney started thinking about becoming an assistant for Fraser, excited about the prospect of working with his longtime friend, and knowing it was the next logical step in his coaching career.
"He let me know when he was starting the interview process with Chivas," said Vanney. "We had talked for a long time that if he were to get a head coaching job, he would ask me to come with him."
Vanney had recently started a soccer developmental academy for kids in Arizona, and was a little hesitant to leave what he had started. But the chance to coach in MLS and be a part of Fraser’s staff at Chivas USA was too great of an opportunity to pass up.
"There was hesitation, because there were kids involved," said Vanney. "There are twenty-six of them who left their families to live at the complex and to be a part of what we created. More than hesitation though, it was just about making sure that everybody there was taken care of. I knew that for me [the job at Chivas USA] was the next step, and I needed to take it, but in taking that step I needed to make sure that the program was under control and that everything was stable."
Confident that everything in Arizona was settled, Vanney returned to MLS to join The Red-and-White as an assistant coach. He certainly hasn't regretted the move so far. Being back in MLS and working with Fraser has been fantastic, according to Vanney. He said the best part of his role is gaining a new perspective and seeing the league in totally different ways than he did as a player.
And about that dream of becoming an MLS head coach some day? It remains a long-term goal. Vanney appreciates the coaching process- he wants to learn, grow and prove himself as an assistant. One day, he'd love to earn the opportunity to be a head coach, but for now he is entirely focused on his current role: building Chivas USA into an MLS Cup contender.
"We're trying to develop a team that can compete right now," said Vanney. "Our goal is to try and win a championship as soon as we can."