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 spent the last three seasons as an assistant with Real Salt Lake, helping build head coach Jason Kreis’ team into a perennial powerhouse in the league and helping develop the talents of 2010 Visa Defender of the Year Jamison Olave and fellow Best XI selection Nat Borchers.
“We are all extremely pleased for Robin to get this fantastic opportunity and know that he will certainly enjoy great success as a head coach in Major League Soccer,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis said in a statement. “Robin was an extremely important member of our coaching staff, integral to all of our successes to date. He will be sorely missed, and I want to thank him deeply for what he meant to me, this team, and this club”
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 has also named Greg Vanney as his assistant. Vanney was teammates with Fraser on the Los Angeles Galaxy and was most recently the director of the RSL-Arizona youth academy program.
[inline_node:325896]“Robin has been a big part of our success both on and off the field,” RSL Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Garth Lagerwey said. “From scouting to video preparation to mentoring young players, he has prepared himself well to succeed in his new task. We wish he and Greg both good luck and great success.”
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’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.