The Colorado Rapids officially introduced Robin Fraser as the newest permanent manager on Tuesday with an introductory press conference in Commerce City. I decided to take a listen more out of curiosity than thinking I might actually glean anything from Coach Fraser or the club. After all, he is taking over a team that, if we are all being honest, abysmal since 2014. Sure, we had the gift that was 2016, but that feels more like “a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again.” That distant memory has faded into the annals of many of our minds.
But I found myself wanting to sit down with Fraser and ask him one question: “Why in the heck would you ever take this job. Really. Why would you take this?”
As snarky as that question may sound, I know there are some really good things about this job:
- Great young talent: Kellyn Acosta, Jonathan Lewis, Sam Vines, Andre Shinyashiki, Keegan Rosenberry, Cole Bassett, Diego Rubio;
- A battering ram upfront in Kei Kamara and good goalkeeping in Clint Irwin; and
- Financial flexibility.
There is a lot to like. A lot.
I remember Fraser as head coach of Chivas USA and I have watched him in his assistant stints at Real Salt Lake, New York Red Bulls. and Toronto FC. He knows soccer. I have no doubt about that. He is a two-time MLS Defender of the Year, so I know he can coach defense. I do have some concerns about whether he can play the possession and out-of-the-back style that MLS favors at this point. I wonder whether he can bring the club out of MLS 1.0.
But my biggest worry (and wonderment) is not Robin Fraser.
It is Padraig Smith.
By many measures, Smith has done a poor job with the Rapids. Now, I know Smith. I like him very much and I think he has a brilliant footballing mind. But that has not translated to success on the pitch.
Yes, they have brought in some serious talent. Yes, the team is far more enjoyable to watch then in past seasons. Yes, there are characters on this team that I pull for and want to succeed.
But the results have simply not been there and it is easy to blame coach after coach for wins and losses, and certainly, that is fair. (Looking at you, Anthony Hudson).
However, a lot of this falls on Mr. Smith.
You will have multiple designated player slots next season. You will have a new coach in town that is familiar with MLS. You will still have a small, but passionate fan base that CRAVES something to yell and cheer and scream about. There is a great deal to pull for with this team and so much to build around.
But Smith has to get this offseason right. Nothing else matters. Stop looking for (mostly) over-the-hill talent in the lower leagues of England. Find young dynamic playmakers that have engines that won’t quit. Find defenders who are quick and physical, but can play the ball out of the back and drive the attack. In short, find players that can complement the Lads that are already here and move us into having realistic hope of a playoff berth.
Our new coach needs it. Our fan base deserves it.
Make coming out to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park an event where we are a brutal team to play against and where wins pile up.
It’s been far too long.