Chivas USA coach Robin Fraser was successful in his second return to Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday, leaving with Chivas USA’s first ever win in Sandy.
After the match, the special relationship the former assistant coach has with Salt Lake was evident. His post-match presser, a traditionally icy affair between a visiting manager and home media, was very friendly. In it, he greeted press members by name and was effusive in his praise of Real Salt Lake.
“To come back here is always special for me,” Fraser said. “This is where it began for all of us. So I definitely have nostalgic feelings.”
Fraser praised Salt Lake’s players and coaches, noting the significance of Salt Lake in starting his professional coaching career.
“We all grew together here as coaches,” Fraser said. “This is where we all started… We were all part of taking a team that wasn’t very good and transforming them into arguably the best team in the league.”
The feelings are clearly mutual between the sides. After the match, many Salt Lake players happily greeted Fraser, despite having just lost a chippy match to his team. Fabian Espindola, in particular, shared a long embrace with Fraser.
“Fabian is so dynamic,” Fraser said. “He’s one of the top forwards in the league.”
Fraser brought back defender Rauwshan McKenzie with him. Salt Lake let the center back go during the off-season, but he was quickly picked up by Fraser. He has started all three matches this season and played very well against his former team.
“It was a good night for him [McKenzie],” Fraser said. “I thought he had a really solid game.”
Chivas USA’s victory marked the side’s first points in what will likely be a rebuilding season. Jason Kreis found time to discuss the challenges Fraser is facing and offer praise for his former assistant.
“The good thing about Robin is that he’s already been through this with us before,” Kreis said. “I think they’ve got the exact right man for the job.”