It was not under the most ideal of circumstances, but Chivas USA’s Greg Vanney made a coaching debut of sorts on Wednesday.
With head coach Robin Fraser suspended, having been ejected from the previous outing for arguing with a referee, Vanney slid one spot over on the bench and was the man in charge during Chivas’ match at Columbus.
“It was good. I enjoyed it,” Vanney told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “My biggest role was to try to keep the group concentrated, to try and keep that morale up and that belief up.”
A veteran of four MLS clubs during his own playing days, Vanney joined the coaching ranks in 2011 when Fraser was hired. Vanney had previously spent time helping run Real Salt Lake’s Arizona Academy.
His first-ever venture into the world of pro coaching was brought along with the assistance of Fraser and the coaching staff. Vanney said discussions about potential substitutes and the starting lineup had been ongoing prior to the match, and everyone was on the same page.
Tactics and the technical part of the match was secondary, though, as has been the case in other recent matches.
“A lot of times on these games, especially with our team, it’s not necessarily about the X's and O’s right now, because we do some of those things well,” he said. “It’s about keeping that belief and keeping them pushing forward and staying positive with them – keep urging them on to do what they do, because we have good players.”
The one thing that did not change, though, was the outcome and the manner in which it happened. Columbus scored in the 89th minute and won 1-0.
“You get that same sinking feeling, no matter where you are on this team,” Vanney said. “When you get so close to the end, something goes sideways for us and we end up not walking away with anything. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the first coach, the second coach, the third coach, one of the players, anybody, it’s still the same sinking feeling.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.