Robin Fraser takes the field at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Saturday night for his first home game since being appointed head coach of the Colorado Rapids. The Rapids will be without Kei Kamara, Diego Rubio, Cole Bassett, and Sebastian Anderson this weekend against the Seattle Sounders—all due to national team call-ups.
“To be honest, it’s all I know,” said Fraser with a smirk. “The first week there were injuries and suspensions and the second week there are international call-ups so this is all I know. For me, it’s not that big a deal. I don’t know what I’m missing. I’ve not had Kei (available).”
As far as MLS continuing to play matches during the international break, a time in which many leagues around the world refrain, Robin takes a realistic approach that it’s just something all the teams must deal with. “This is the way it is for now, this is the league we’re in, and this is the rules we have to abide by.”
One would expect the absence of key players to disrupt the ability of a new coach to evaluate and implement his system, but Fraser noted, “I think different guys are affected differently: how much travel they have, what their position level is with that team, what their confidence level is with that team. All those things are factors that can vary from person to person.”
“It’s up to us to keep our environment as steady and consistent as possible and when those guys slip back in,” he explained. “They have their jobs to do, to win or keep and nothing really changes too much.”
Seattle, for example, is being hit far worse with players missing this weekend’s tilt in Colorado due to time with their respective national teams; however, that also affects the Rapids preparation to some extent as well. “If they have all their players you expect them to do certain things. If they don’t have all their players you’re not as sure,” Fraser told BW after a mid-week training session.
That being said, it’s also about getting players to realize the opponent isn’t necessarily the main focus.
“You give a brief overview of things you’ve seen in the past, but outside of that it’s us concentrating on us,” he said. “Realistically, you want to have somewhat of an idea and be prepared for it and know how you’re going to oppose it both offensively and defensively. Outside of that, the overreaching feeling is that once you’re good at what you do, then you do it, and make slight adjustments based on what the opponent does.”
Being good at what they do is precisely what Fraser is trying to instill in the Rapids in the short time he’s been in charge throughout the last two weeks. When asked what will be important to focus on this weekend and beyond, Coach wouldn’t get too tactically specific. “Team concepts that we’re trying to incorporate. We saw a few snippets last week, if we see a few more this week then that’s progress. Principally there are some things we want to see happen in a repeated fashion.”
With a very solid Sounders side coming to Commerce City, Fraser would like to see his concepts create opportunities and he definitely wants to earn all three points. He’s seeing the players become more attentive and open to the process of what he’s trying to create. “Obviously winning the game is a success, but in terms of moving forward, we want to continue to see progress,” he explained. “We’d like to continue to build on that and see more of those moments, and then ultimately be in positions to finish chances and hopefully prevent chances.”
Fraser saw last weekend against the New York Red Bulls as a good first step. He spoke highly of the players, saying that they’re “very receptive to information, willing workers. They do what you ask them to do, yet they ask intelligent questions. To me, last week was great because there were some challenges presented, some solutions discussed, and they went out and executed them exactly as we’d talked about. It makes me feel good about the group that they are open and willing to take on information.”