|D.C. United 2||LA Galaxy 0|
|Did You Know?|
|Jamaican-born Robin Fraser was the 4th overall pick by the LA Galaxy in the inaugural MLS player draft in 1996.|
#49. Broken Dreams (1999)
This was payback time.
Same opponent: D.C. United. Same stadium: Foxboro Stadium, although this time the sun was shining.
MLS Cup 1999 was set up perfectly for the LA Galaxy to avenge defeat in the first MLS championship game held three years earlier against their hated rivals.
But it only took four minutes for those hopes to be quashed when the Galaxy's captain, 1999 MLS Defender of the Year and Best XI selection Robin Fraser was making a routine run to seal Roy Lassiter’s path to a ball played over the top.
“As I got to close it down and shield off Lassiter, he bumps me. Pushes me from behind,” Fraser told MLSsoccer.com from his Chivas USA office, where today he serves as manager.
However, what was not widely publicized at the time is the fact that Fraser had shoulder problems in 1999, which forced him to wear a brace throughout the season. The added protection restricted the movement of his shoulder and he wasn’t able to react in time to break his fall.
“My arm was tucked in. So as I fell, it was really hard to get my arm up to protect myself. I fell hard on my shoulder and I felt a pain in here,” Fraser said, pointing to his left shoulder. “I’m laying there, the trainer comes on and he feels around and he goes ‘Uh no.’ He says: ‘It’s broken … your collarbone.’”
Fraser's game was done and the Galaxy would have to do without the undisputed leader of their back line for another 85 minutes. And while Fraser still minimizes the impact of his departure on the final result that day, his '99 LA teammates -- Cobi Jones and Kevin Hartman -- don't agree.
“Defender of the Year and Best XI," Jones said. "He was the main cog in the wheel in the back. And to lose that player in the first few minutes of the game throws everything out of whack."
"It's a matter of almost totally having to relearn how to play the game," was the post-game comment from Hartman, current FC Dallas goalkeeper.
Phil Schoen, lead broadcaster for GolTV, was ABC's play-by-play commentator on that day. He refuses to pin the Galaxy's loss in 1999 on Fraser's substitution.
"It was a turning point mentally, because Robin was the brains of the defense," Schoen said. "He was the best defender in MLS that season. Still, that LA team was too good to fall apart. But they did."
The question remains whether Lassiter's shove consituted a cheap shot in a match in which the D.C. forward would later help undo the LA Galaxy with a contribution on both goals.
"I think you have to give credit to Lassiter," Schoen said. "It wasn't a vicious foul - just two players fighting for the ball, with a little push you see every game. Fraser just landed awkwardly."
Now 12 years after the fact, time has not lessened Fraser's disappointment when he's asked to harken back to those days.
"To get to that point four minutes in [to the match] was just devastating," Fraser says. "Watching from the sidelines, it’s hard to get a true clear perspective on how the game went because I was so disappointed -- almost in disbelief -- throughout that whole time. To get there, to get to that point and watch it slip away again was extremely difficult."