How Colorados Robin Fraser is breaking ground for black coaches in MLS

The longtime and former defender is only the second American in league history


Robin Fraser stood stoic on the sideline at Bull Arena as the Colorado Rapids stymied the Red Bulls. To his right his former teammate, , was trying to rally the Red Bulls to come from behind, but a second Rapids goal has put the to bed. It was the beginning of a stretch for the that would see the win five out of six , before just short of this playoffs.

Really fucking good, that felt really good, Fraser said when a Rapids staffer asked him how he felt after the whistle. He had not held a coaching job for nearly seven years when the Rapids offered him the to return to his native . In that span, Fraser served as the tactician behind the Red Bulls Supporters Shield win in 2013, and was the assistant to long-time friend Greg Vanney when Toronto FC became the first MLS team to win a domestic treble in 2017 and came within a penalty shootout of winning the Concacaf the following .

When Fraser took the sidelines again, it ended a span of over year in which MLS did not have a . He is the fifth black ever in MLS and just the second African American. Before the Rapids offer came along, Fraser had been linked with several opportunities when he was an . In interviews with the Guardianand others, Fraser said he didnt think played a role in whether he was passed over for previous opportunities.

Although MLS has its own version of the Rooney Rule mandating teams to minority candidates for any coaching or technical staff position are few African Americans on backroom staffs. One is the relatively high cost of coaching courses with A license courses costing $4,000. These costs weigh heavier on members of disadvantaged communities. The FA acknowledged this and implemented grants for coaches from black, asian and minority ethnicities to cover Uefa coaching costs, but USSF has not implemented a similar program. Still, Fraser said he saw the of his coaching classes diversify.

Once upon a , it was easier to go get licensed, but the courses are far more detailed and as a result we are on the cusp of coaches becoming better and its something that Ive seen over the last five or six years, Fraser said. I feel like over the last five or six years, the coaching has gotten better because of the and coaches are in a number of these advanced courses that are being offered.

Fraser said he was able to move more quickly through the process because he was a former . US Soccers Pro License is only available to professional coaches. He said he has noticed that there are more minorities in the coaching classes that he recently took than when he began his education more than a decade ago.

When I did the Pro Course, it was only 12 to 15 so its hard for me to say what the courses like, but I do think there is a greater of coaches coming through the courses, Fraser said. Its a function of the net being wider and more playing. Theres a greater diversity of players and that means theres a greater of ex-players who are trying to be coaches.


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