It was not a huge surprise. I had heard rumblings that it would be Fraser almost two months ago. Interim Coach Conor Casey's run with the Rapids concludes with a record of 7 wins, 4 draws, and 7 losses. It may have been odd to see Conor Casey shunted aside after a relatively successful caretaker-manager stint, but ultimately, the timing does make sense. Colorado are 13 points below the playoff redline with only seven games left to do, making them effectively eliminated from the post-season. Saturday's loss to Real Salt Lake was as good a time as any to end Casey's tenure and let Fraser come on board to get a feel for the new Rapids.
Some fans will be disappointed that Pádraig Smith ultimately chose not to retain Casey as head coach. And I think that's a legitimate gripe.
Casey showed in his 3 months on the job that he could make good use of a solid-but-unspectacular lineup. He also changed the formation and tactical plan of the Rapids from a pass-oriented 4-4-2 diamond to a 4-5-1 that put an emphasis on defending deep, striking on the counter, and putting out a fast pair of wing attackers to get forward and help Kei Kamara score goals. It worked better than what Hudson was rolling out every week.
But the plan was always to hire a coach with MLS experience to build a club for 2020 and beyond, not give another inexperienced former Rapids player a shot at the big time. Casey might turn out to be great, but honestly, after pressing Pablo Mastroeni into emergency duty to coach from 2015 to 2017, Colorado did not need to give another former legend his first try at managing. They needed a guy who had built up a resume watching other MLS coaches, thinking about the game, and studying the ways of managers.
He was an assistant to Jason Kreis at Real Salt Lake. He was an assistant to Hans Backe at New York Red Bulls. He was an assistant to Greg Vanney at Toronto FC. And he got a shot to be head coach with Chivas USA, even though their management team didn't support him in the slightest. He's already got the experience that Conor Casey would hope to build in order to be properly prepared to manage in MLS.
When it comes to how he'll line up and how he'll play, we aren't quite sure, but at his introductory press conference today, he gave us a little teaser.
For the final 7 games of the year, we get to see tinkering and testing. Keep an eye on how Fraser plans to use some of the new guys like Jonathan Lewis and Andre Shinyashiki. It's also interesting to see if Fraser gives Axel Sjöberg and Dillon Serna another chance to play and maybe prove their value going forward. And lastly, pay attention, but not too much attention, to whether the Rapids win a few games down the stretch. It ultimately doesn't matter that much, but it would be a positive sign for the Rapids to demonstrate to their coach that they understand and will respond to his ideas and his encouragement.