CARSON, Calif. – Robin Fraser has immediately sought to shape Chivas USA in his own image. Gone are players such as Jesus Padilla, Alan Gordon and Rodolfo Espinoza, who were focal points of previous coaching staffs. In their place, the Rojiblancos have added veteran presences, bringing in Jimmy Conrad and Alejandro Moreno among others.
However, young players such as Gerson Mayen and Blair Gavin are also set to play major roles in 2011. MLSsoccer.com sat down with Fraser to learn more about his plans for the 2011 season.
MLSsoccer.com: What brought you to Chivas USA and what about the team was appealing to you?
Fraser: The ownership group as a great vision for what they want to do and I think that our visions are inline. They have an idea to develop players and not necessarily taking the quick fix — but not permanent — route of DPs. We felt like we want create a lot of good players for this team to sustain a good level of play for a long time.
MLSsoccer.com: You talked about the “Soccer Committee” when you were first introduced. How does this function and what is the purpose?
Fraser: The point of it is that no one person is going to make a decision that may not benefit the team. It’s a committee of people to ensure that decisions are well thought out and bantered about. Given our schedules, it’s not convenient for the soccer committee to get together all the time, but we have discussions all along and we make sure everyone is up to speed about what we’re trying to do.
[inline_node:327671]MLSsoccer.com: The 4-1-4-1 formation has gotten a lot of interest. How does that formation best suit this team?
Fraser: It’s one of those that we figure might be appropriate for this group of players because they have the characteristics and mentality that fits the formation. We’ve got a lot possession-oriented midfielders and we want to get ourselves into a position where we can get these guys on the field and dictate the tempo of the game.
Also, it’s a formation that allows us to get more of players with power and pace on the field. Just to be clear, it’s not like we’re married to it, but we’re going to continue to tinker and see what works best.
MLSsoccer.com: Is this similar to Jason Kreis’ rebuilding of Real Salt Lake? Did you take a page from his playbook, and how valuable was that experience?
Fraser: It was an invaluable learning tool because I had ideas for how things should be done and there I got the chance to test those ideas. Obviously, we had a great deal of success and it’s exciting to be testing those here as well. At the end of the day, there are certain principles that helped that team get to where they are now that are similar to the principles that we want to instill here.
MLSsoccer.com: Talk about your relationship with assistant coach Greg Vanney and how you plan to work with him.
Fraser: I met Greg during my first year with the Galaxy when I was 29 and he was 21. We just hit it off right away because he was a young player, who got it and was a very thinking player. Over the 15 years, we’ve had more soccer discussions than you can possibly imagine. We’ve talked about coaching together for a long, long time. This is something that has been in the works for at least 10 years.
MLSsoccer.com: Speaking of the Galaxy, how important is it for you to win the SuperClásico, particularly with your experience with that franchise?
Fraser: I understand that it’s become a big deal, and when I played for the Galaxy, this rivalry didn’t exist back then. I think it’s great for the league and people speak about this game with great passion and that it’s something that’s very important to be people around here. I’m on board with that and it’s a game that I want to win, but for me it’s one in a long list of games that I want to win.
For me, the most important thing is where we end up at the end. Having said that, I’ve developed an appreciation for how big the SuperClásico is around here and it will be treated with the appropriate amount of respect.
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano