It's very sad to see a promising young coach, Chivas USA's Robin Fraser, falling into the same pattern of desperate systemic flux, that we saw under guys like Spencer and Winter, before they were inevitably fired.
After a long, and fairly unsuccessful stretch of hyper-defensive football, Chivas has suddenly gone on the attack for the last three games. They've put up some impressive possession and passing numbers, but the state that ultimately matters, the final score, has been worse than ever:
-Passing Accuracy: 89%
-Result: loss, 0-4
vs. Salt Lake
-Passing Accuracy: 87%
-Result: Loss, 0-4
-Passing Accuracy: 86%
-Result: Loss, 0-1
What I see in coaches who revert to desperate systemic experimenting, is an inability to get to the bottom of issues. They haven't been able dig deeper and truly identify where the teams problems originate.
Hopefully this is just a temporary setback for Fraser as he tries to instill a new way of playing that will take time to improve. But the fact that he was so unsuccessful with the defensive approach is not a good sign for how well he'll do at getting the new system to work, if he actually even has the guts to try to stick with it.
Great coaches are the ones that know how to dig deep and find those answers. In soccer we've seen this from guys like Jason Kreis and Peter Vermes. In American football, I think of Tony Dungy and Jim Harbaugh, guys who turned their teams completely around without overhauling the roster.
My fear for Fraser, is that he doesn't have that skill. After two seasons, an 11 game winless streak, 7 losses in a row, and only three games left in the season, Fraser's time has about run out. I predict he'll be gone at the end of the season.
Ultimately, there are coaches who make direct football work, and coaches who make attractive football work. But what they all have in common, is the ability to go deeper than just what's happening on the field and help the players and the team identify the deeper physical and psychological aspects that are affecting their performances.
The coaching X factor is that ability to dig down and actually find the deepest roots of the problems.
Does Caleb Porter have this ability? I hope so. He's said to be big on deep statistical analysis and it appears he's translated that to effective play at Akron, but is he good enough to translate that to the professional level? Time will tell.
For now, we're fortunate that GW and McAuley have actually done a decent job getting to the bottom of issues and getting this team on some kind of an upward progression. And it's a bonus that they've done it playing a more attractive style. Compared to Chivas, our possession game has been able to create chances. Chivas has very few real scoring chances to show for all that passing and possession. With midfielders like Joseph and LaBrocca, and forwards like Agudelo and Angel, that should not be as big a problem as it is, and it may be too late for Fraser to figure that out and fix it.