A Return to Salt Lake for Fraser and Braun

Justin Braun and Robin Fraser talk about their homecomings to Salt Lake

CARSON, Calif. (Thursday, May 5, 2011) - Coming off back-to-back wins and an unbeaten month of April, Chivas USA heads to Utah this weekend for a game against Real Salt Lake on Saturday afternoon (1:00p.m. PT on Telefutra and W Radio). The trip to Salt Lake will not only be a huge test for the Red-and-White, but also a homecoming for coach Robin Fraser and forward Justin Braun.

Fraser spent four years as an assistant coach with Real Salt Lake, and after practice Thursday he talked to cdchivasusa.com about his return. He said that he keeps in contact with players and coaches at RSL, and certainly doesn’t expect this game to change any relationships.

“The friendships are going to last well beyond soccer, and well beyond us being different teams and different sidelines,” he said. “I have some lifelong friendships there.”

As the game approaches, the first year Red-and-White coach has been fielding more and more questions about his return to Salt Lake, especially questions focusing on those friendships, and his connection with the team. He’s been consistent with his message: it’s not about him.

“It’s not me facing Jason [Kreis] at all,” said Fraser. “It’s Chivas USA facing Real Salt Lake. We can make a lot of fuss about our history together and whatever, but at the end of the day, it’s two teams trying to get points and move up the standings.”

While Fraser downplayed the significance of his return, Braun admitted he was excited. The fourth-year Chivas USA player was born and raised in Salt Lake, and played for the club team at Salt Lake Community College as well as local men’s teams in the city before being discovered by Chivas USA.

“It’s always an awesome experience to get back there and play in front of the hometown crowd,” said Braun. “I have lots of friends and family there, and they don’t get lots of chances to see me play live, so anytime I go back there it’s a special occasion for me. I’ll have my family and lots of friends at the game, so hopefully there will be a good little Chivas crew for us.”

But does Braun have extra motivation against his hometown team that never gave him a chance? If so, he wasn’t letting on.

“I just kind of see [RSL] as another team. Obviously you want to go and perform well in front of your hometown. [The motivation] is not so much playing against them as a team, but more of just playing at home and wanting to do well.”

The 24-year-old has been starting to find a role in coach Fraser’s system, and has made key impacts in the last few games. But he’s yet to score a goal this season. If ever there was a perfect time to get that first goal, this weekend might be it.

“It would be huge,” said Braun of scoring in RSL’s Rio Tinto Stadium. “That would definitely be a spot where I’d want to get my first goal of the season. I mean, I’ll take my first goal of the season anywhere, but it’d be a little bit more special to have it be there.”