MLS ’11 Preview: Can Fraser Bring Chivas Success?
Team: Club Deportivo Chivas-USA
Head Coach: Robin Fraser (1st Year)
Last Year’s Finish: Last Place in Western Conference, 15th Overall 8-18-4
Last season for Chivas-USA was one that wants to be forgotten. After allowing assistant coach Martin Vazquez the chance to become the full time head coach last season, he was quickly dismissed at the end of his early tenure. So who was on the short list or any list to bring in a new coach and right the ship quickly for the American goats? Why looking across the way into the state of Utah and plucking Real Salt Lake’s assistant in former LA Galaxy, Colorado Rapids and Columbus Crew man Robin Fraser.
So far from what I have heard from my Chivas-USA reporter John Sandate, Fraser has already started to implement his tactics and the players have already responded to what he wants to do. A breath of fresh air was needed for this club after a horrible MLS season, but they did well getting to the semi-finals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup before losing to the eventual two time champions Seattle Sounders.
Key Roster Additions: After a good season with expansion side Philadelphia Union last year Alejandro Moreno was brought over to shore up the scoring and possibly be a part of the starting eleven. From the A-League in Australia and crossing over from Red Bull Arena, Fraser signed and picked some good Kiwis as New Zealand Internationals Simon Elliott returns to MLS from the Wellington Phoenix, and Andrew Boyens was signed after a trial when his contract expired from the New York Red Bulls. Former Sporting Kansas City defender Jimmy Conrad was picked up to help out the back line along with recently traded Heath Pearce from FC Dallas.
Key Roster Losses: With Jonathan Bornstein headed down to Mexico to play for Tigres and of course in the middle of last season Sacha Kljestan transfered to Anderlecht of the Belgium first division. Sal Zizzo being sent to the expansion Portland Timbers and former head coach Martin Vazquez, not much player turnover has happened on the losing end. Two important players who were well known, this club could allow some more goals than they like.
Draft Day Buyers: Just like any club that has a need for new blood and of course pilfering from the NCAA College Cup Champions in the University of Akron, midfielders Blair Gavin and Ben Zemanski along with Defender Zarek Valentin were taken in this past MLS Super Draft and Fraser believes that their stock is high early and will be steady.
Returning From Mexico: After their stints down in the Mexican First Division League midfielders Paulo Nagamura comes back from Tigres, and Jesus Padilla returns from the parent club in Guadalajara, suggesting that there could be something good brewing here for the club and helping out with the rookies who were recently drafted.
Players to Watch: Expect Alejandro Moreno to fill the net this season and drawing a couple of calls to help his side to set up some dangerous free kicks near their opponents area. Also expect Simon Elliott to be the energy man in the midfield as he will be serving some good balls and adding some crunching tackles.
Predictions: The only direction for Chivas-USA is to go up. From what I heard training camp is going well and the players are having fun. It sounds like Robin Fraser could be the man to change the club’s fortunes since Bob Bradley left to become the Head Coach of the US Men’s National Team. If Fraser can pull off a Hans Backe then the Super Clasico against the Galaxy can sway in favor to Chivas-USA. But when it comes to the standings, we will let the club’s performances speak for itself.