Less than 24 hours after Chivas USA began its long-awaited front-office shuffle, Internet reports began speculating on the future of second-year Coach Robin Fraser. ESPN Deportes’ John Sutcliffe reported the decision has already been made to let Fraser go and the website SB Nation said Wednesday that “all signs seem to be pointing” to Fraser’s ouster following Sunday’s regular-season finale in Dallas.
According to Sutcliffe, former Chivas de Guadalajara Coach Efrain Flores will replace Fraser.
After a spirited training session Wednesday at the Home Depot Center, Fraser didn’t sound optimistic about his future with the Major League Soccer team.
“I have no idea,” said Fraser, the team’s sixth coach in eight seasons. “It’s certainly not up to me. As long as I’m here, I’m trying to make the team as good as possible and win as many games as possible.
“Now we’re down to one game. Beyond that I don’t know.”
Chivas, which will finish last in the Western Conference this season, is 15-32-20 in two seasons under Fraser. The team is winless in its last 13 games and has scored just twice since Aug. 29.
That date is significant because it’s also the day Chivas de Guadalajara owner Jorge Vergara and his wife, Angelica Fuentes, took sole control of the MLS franchise by buying out their former partners, brothers Lorenzo and Antonio Cue.
The famously impatient Vergara -- he’s gone through 16 coaches in 10 years with his Mexican club -- has mostly held fire since then, instituting a media blackout to deflect questions about his plans for Chivas USA. But late Tuesday the club announced that Mexican businessman Jose David, 59, would succeed Antonio Cue as president and former Chivas de Guadalajara coach Jose Luis Real, 60, would supervise the club’s soccer operations.
Tuesday’s announcement did not mention the team’s two most visible nonplayers, however, containing no mention of Fraser or General Manager Jose Domene. A club spokesman later said that Domene, who was reportedly out as general manager shortly after Vergara took over, will for the time being report to Real, who will remain in Guadalajara where he will remain director of athletic development for Chivas de Guadalajara.
Asked about his status Wednesday, Domene politely declined to comment.
The appointment of Real and talk of hiring Flores to replace Fraser are significant because it suggests Vergara is seeking to align his iconic Mexican team with its namesake in Southern California. There has also been speculation players from the Mexican team could join the American Chivas beginning next season.
The MLS team, which is reorganizing for the second time in three years, has struggled to find direction and an identity in recent years. The team hasn’t reached the playoffs in three seasons and has had the largest attendance decline in the MLS over that period.
Playing in the huge shadow cast by David Beckham and the Galaxy, Chivas’ roommate at the Home Depot Center in Carson, hasn’t helped. As a result Chivas USA has long been searching for a place to build an 18,000-seat home of its own with the leading location believed to be in Exposition Park.
“I just think that you have to focus on the task at hand,” Fraser said in reference to the changes. “And the task at hand is the game. Beyond that, next week, that’s another discussion.”