Two Real Salt Lake players who will perhaps miss former assistant coach Robin Fraser more than anyone spoke up Tuesday, just hours after Chivas USA scooped up Fraser to become the Goats’ sixth head coach in franchise history
Chris Wingert and Nat Borchers both had similar paths under Fraser, who was a two-time MLS Defender of the Year during his 10-year playing career.
“Chris and I both feel that Robin’s been huge to our success individually as players – we’ve both basically grown up with him as players,” Borchers told MLSSoccer.com. “It’s tough to see him go, but quite frankly he’s due.”
Borchers was a rookie in Colorado in 2003, and played alongside Fraser with the Rapids before Fraser eventually retired following the 2005 season.
[inline_node:325907]“I can’t say enough about how much Robin’s meant to me and my success,” Borchers said. “I played with him my rookie year in the league. I played right next to him, and learned a ton that year.
“I probably wouldn’t have come to Salt Lake if it wasn’t for him recommending me to the coaching staff and organization,” Borchers added.
Following the 2003 season, the then-37-year-old Fraser moved onto Columbus, where he won his second Defender of the Year award. There was another wide-eyed rookie who played with Fraser there, too: Wingert.
“He was the captain of the Columbus Crew when I came in as a rookie,” Wingert said. “To have a guy like that to learn from is just incredible.”
Like Borchers, Wingert also came to his current club largely due to the influence of Fraser.
“I was actually on a flight out to LA to go sign with them. Chris Albright had just gotten hurt and they needed a right back, and so they asked me to come out there,” Wingert said. “And on my way, Robin had called me and said, ‘Do you want to come to Salt Lake?’ We notified LA, and it was a really tough decision for me to make. With Robin taking over as one of the assistants, I felt that [Salt Lake] could be a place where I could succeed.”
Both players credit Fraser for many of the positives that have happened to them throughout their career, both personally and for the clubs that they have played for. They point to Fraser as being instrumental in the defensive success of Real Salt Lake last season – a defense that set a league record for fewest goals allowed (20).
“To be a head coach in this league you have to have a lot of characteristics, and I think one of his best characteristics is leadership,” Borchers said. “He’s a great leader in terms of what he does and what he says. He’s extremely personable, and he definitely cares about his players, and about the job he has to do. And I think he’s a master tactician – he’s very intelligent in the way he prepares his teams. And he’s got the will to win.
“You package all of those attributes up, and you’ve got a heck of a coach.”