CARSON, Calif. – Robin Fraser was a key architect in the building of Real Salt Lake. But on Saturday, he’ll bring his own project to his old stopping grounds when Chivas USA face off against Real Salt Lake (4 pm ET, TeleFutura).
Fraser is returning to Rio Tinto stadium for the first time since being appointed the head coach of the Rojiblancos. He spent three-and-a-half years as an assistant coach for Real Salt Lake boss Jason Kreis, a period in which the pair helped build RSL from a one of the league’s worst sides to a team that is considered by many to be MLS’ finest.
For Fraser, the return to Rio Tinto as an opponent of the Claret-and-Cobalt will certainly be a strange experience.
“I’ve been there since the stadium opened and been with the team through their rise to where they are now, and I’ve had countless amazing moments in that stadium,” said Fraser. “To go there as the opponent is going to be extremely bizarre. I don’t even know where the visitor locker room is there, so we’ll have to figure that out.”
The Rojiblancos head to Rio Tinto Stadium in the midst of a five-game unbeaten streak that includes two straight victories. After starting the season off poorly, Chivas USA have taken a page out of the RSL playbook by playing with a high-energy attack centered on controlling possession.
Like RSL, the energetic attack is anchored by a stiff defense that has conceded only two goals during the month of April. Rather than “park the bus” with an overly defensive game plan against Salt Lake, Fraser views the match as the ultimate measuring stick for his possession-oriented Goats.
“Fact of the matter is that when you play against different teams, different teams pose different challenges,” said Fraser. “To be successful, you need to figure out ways to play the way that you want to play against pretty much everyone.”
While Salt Lake may have lost their last two matches in all competitions, RSL remain incredibly tough to defeat at Rio Tinto. Still, the Goats are confident of their ability to match up.
“If anyone knows Salt Lake, our coaching staff will have a pretty good idea of how we’re going to get at them,” Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s going to be a great game.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano