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Chivas USA reflects on inconsistent season

The team ends the season absent from the playoffs, and first-year Coach Robin Fraser says adapting his plans based on the players available and becoming more detail-oriented are goals.

October 22, 2011|By Baxter Holmes
  • Chivas USA didn't live up to the optimistic preseason expectations of new Coach Robin Fraser, right.
Chivas USA didn't live up to the optimistic preseason expectations… (Victor Decolongon / Getty…)

Chivas USA finished last in the MLS Western Conference last season, so expectations were subterranean entering this one.

Still, first-year Coach Robin Fraser had optimistic ideas when he took over in January.

Then he realized the team he had wasn't equipped to execute them. Add in some injuries and his inaugural season here soured.

The Goats' second straight abysmal campaign ended Saturday against Seattle at the Home Depot Center.

The day before it did, with Chivas (8-13-12) in seventh place in the Western Conference standings and absent from the playoffs, again, Fraser surveyed the damage.

His biggest lesson learned: He has to adapt his plans based on the players he has and what they can do.

"It's been a process getting to know what we have and don't have," he said.

Which would be?

"We have some players who've been able to concentrate and focus throughout long periods, and we have some players who haven't," he said.

That led to inconsistency, which led to losses.

The Goats were close, at times: Before Saturday, 12 of their 13 losses were by one goal.

There was a point in which the team was looking good, actually — Aug. 6.

Then, Chivas wrapped up a 3-2 road win against New England, giving it a 7-8-8 record and momentum for a playoff run.

But it failed to win its next seven matches.

"We definitely ran into a few injuries at that point and once we start to thin ourselves out, then I think our consistency was more evident," Fraser said.

There were a few upsides to the down season.

Dan Kennedy emerged from a backup role to become a fabulous goalkeeper and Heath Pearce stepped up as a top-flight defender.

Juan Pablo Angel, formerly of the Galaxy but acquired by Chivas in August, also proved to be a silver lining, as he scored seven goals in the first seven games with Chivas.

Still, things didn't go as Fraser planned or hoped.

"We talked about being a team that is a thinking team, and that is able to solve problems on the field and be able to move up the field that way," Fraser said.

At times the team did that ... but those times were few.

What can Fraser take away from a rotten run?

"We need to focus more on the details," he said, "day in and day out."

Such a broad statement says a lot. There's plenty of work to be done.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

twitter.com/baxterholmes

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