CARSON, Calif – Chivas USA ushered in a new era for the club on Wednesday afternoon, officially introducing new head coach Robin Fraser at a press conference at The Home Depot Center. Fraser was named to the position on Tuesday and will replace outgoing coach Martín Vásquez, who was released from his contract at the end of the 2010 season.
Fraser was introduced to the press by Jose L. Domene, who assumed the role of the Chivas USA’s interim general manager after Stephen Hamilton stepped down from the position on Dec. 12 of last year.
“We’re sure that the man on my right is the right choice,” Domene said, referring to Fraser. “He has excellent coaching skills, he’s a proven winner, he’s an excellent person, and we’re sure that he’s going to take this franchise to the next level.”
The job will be Fraser’s first as a head coach after serving as an assistant to Jason Kreis at Real Salt Lake for four years. He is also a 10-year veteran of the league as a player, during which time he earned MLS Defender of the Year awards in 1999 and 2004 and made five appearances on the MLS All-Star Team and MLS Best XI (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2004).
[inline_node:325947]“This is indeed a very special day,” Fraser said. “I’m extremely excited about this team and where we can take it. I think the owners have a phenomenal vision in terms of where they want this team to go and how they want it to get there. I felt like it was perfectly in line with how I look at the game and how I think it should be.”
Fraser’s time at Salt Lake was marked by success. During his tenure in Utah, RSL won an MLS Cup (in 2009) and has set a record for most consecutive home matches without a loss, currently at 25 league games and 33 matches in all competitions. Fraser insists his time under Kreis will help him succeed in Carson.
“Jason worked tirelessly and set a great example for anybody who wants to be a head coach,” Fraser said “He was working extremely long hours and you can see how it’s paid off. When you learn from that example, you can see that there is no room for cutting corners.”
Fraser inherits a Goats squad in desperate need of improvement. The team finished the 2010 season in last place in the Western Conference with a record of 8-4-18, which saw them fail to make the MLS playoffs for the first time since 2005.
“My goal is improvement,” said Fraser. “Literally until the very last day, it’s being better than you were the day before. It’s about getting the players to adhere to that philosophy. That’s the essence of competitive athletics. You’re never satisfied. Every day is about getting better than the day before.
“[Chivas USA have] certainly been a good team at times, and there have been coaches here that have done very well with them at times, but for me, I want more,” he continued. “I’m never satisfied until I get to that final point. I’m a firm believer that if you do things the right way – in terms of moving and living and breathing as a team – then you get the results you want.”
One of Fraser’s challenges will be to improve the Red-and-White’s offense. The team notched a lowly 31 goals in 30 games last year, good for second-worst in the whole league. That said, he has no interest in neglecting the defense.
“We will be a very aggressive defending team,” he said, “And out of very aggressive defending, you create very good attacking opportunities.”
[inline_node:325948]Joining Fraser as an assistant coach at Chivas USA will be Greg Vanney, Fraser’s longtime friend who is himself a former MLS All-Star and veteran of the United States national team. Since his retirement as a player, Vanney has been active in the coaching ranks, holding his FIFA “A” License and working as a coach, scout, and director of RSL's youth program.
“We see the game the same way,” Vanney said of working with Fraser. “Philosophically, we’re on the same page in terms of how we want the team to play, how we approach the game, all those things. What’s exciting about this opportunity is that we have the chance to help shape this club a little bit. You get to build something that everybody in this community can get excited about. We absolutely believe we can do it.”
While Fraser and Vanney were adamant about their commitment to improvement on Wednesday afternoon, they both understand the need for results. After the disappointment of last year, Chivas USA’s supporters will be hungry for success in 2011.
“This is a results-oriented business,” Fraser said. “I talk about improving, I talk about cohesion, doing the things the right way, working hard – you do all those things, and you get the results that you want.
“There are a number of good players here, with good soccer feet, good minds, and I really think it’s a matter of getting everyone on the same page and believing in a common philosophy.”