Robin Fraser met up with his former club for the first time Tuesday, and it wasn't what he expected.
On the field, perhaps: Real Salt Lake was as tough a foe as always, pulling out a 2-0 victory on an own goal and Will Johnson's strike at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Ariz.
But Fraser, who spent 3½ years on Jason Kreis' staff at RSL before taking the Chivas job early last month, was surprised by how normal it felt to oppose the club he helped build into an champion.
“It was not as weird as I thought it maybe would have been,” he told ESPN Los Angeles. “It's not a real game -- just a preseason game -- and a big part of it was I'm very focused on what our team is doing. Once it got going, it was not that odd an experience.
“It was a great experience for our group to play against a good-quality team.”
Fraser, who acknowledged that at one point he called out to RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy, used the first hour to gauge players, few of them likely starters, and try out combinations, then went to a mostly first-choice lineup in the 57th minute.
The Goats had better command from that point but surrendered both goals. Conrad beat Jamison Olave to Andy Williams' corner kick in the 62nd minute but nodded it into Chivas' net, finding the upper-left corner, no less; Johnson slipped behind the Goats' defense and slotted past goalkeeper Zach Thornton from Alvaro Saborio's feed eight minutes later.
“I think it was another positive day for us,” Fraser said on a video posted on MLS's website. “I think the group that played the first 60 minutes were pretty tight, were pretty compact, didn't give up too many chances and were able to create a few chances on the attacking end. Really, at the end of the day, we're trying to be a solid unit, and I thought that that first group did a really good job.
“The group that went in there for the last 30 minutes, I know that they were disappointed. Gave up two -- well, one kind of freakish and one soft goal, and all of a sudden a good day's work appears to be nullified. … I thought there were positives in that group as well.
“Overall, it's a work in progress. We're building and we're getting better, and we're going to have good moments and bad moments, and, obviously, the key is to have more of the good moments and less of the bad moments.”
FIRST IN LINE: If D.C. United, as expected, completes its acquisition on loan of U.S. national team forward Charlie Davies, Chivas will jump atop MLS's allocation priority list. Meaning if a former MLS player (who's rights are not held) returns to the league or a U.S. national-teamer -- say, Jermaine Jones -- signs with the league, the Goats will get first dibs.
Chivas started the offseason fourth in line, after the expansion clubs and D.C.'s basement-dwellers. It's reward of sorts for posting the second-worst record in MLS last season.
“I think you're always looking [for players who would fit], and I think it's a great place to be in case something does happen,” Fraser said. “At the end of the day, it really is a good place to be. You never know what will come up, and I'd rather be first than second if that does happen.”
NEXT: The newest Goat -- defender Heath Pearce, acquired in a trade Tuesday from FC Dallas -- is expected to go when Chivas wraps up its Arizona camp Friday against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
WORTH NOTING: Paulo Nagamura hasn't trained in Arizona because of a calf injury, and Justin Braun remains sidelined because of an ankle injury. Tristan Bowen has been slowed by a hamstring injury. … Goalkeeper Kevin Guppy (Chino Hills/Chino Hills HS and Cal State Northridge), supplemental-draft pick Curtis Ushedo and trialist Norberto Ochoa (Riverside/Riverside Poly HS) have left camp. None of them traveled to Arizona. … The departure of Guppy, Chivas' backup last season after Dan Kennedy suffered a season-ending injury, signals that Thornton, Kennedy and Guadajalara loaner Sergio Arias will be the Goats' netminders. A fourth, Akira Fitzgerald, also is in camp. … Also not on the Arizona roster: defender Carlos Borja (Anaheim/Loara HS) and midfielders Bryan de la Fuente (Bell/Bell HS) and Cesar Zamora (Sylmar/Sylmar HS).
First 56 minutes:
Sergio Arias; Jimmy Asprilla, Eriq Zavaleta, Andrew Boyens, Jorge Flores; Jesus Padilla, Guillermo Torres (Chukwudi Chijindu, 29), Mariano Trujillo, Ben Zemanski; Victor Estupiñan, Alejandro Moreno (Francisco Mendoza, 37).
57th minute on: Zach Thornton; Zarek Valentin, Michael Umaña, Jimmy Conrad, Ante Jazic; Jon Okafor; Michael Lahoud, Blair Gavin, Francisco Mendoza, Gerson Mayen; Alan Gordon.
Real Salt Lake
Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran (Robbie Russell, 30), Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert (Tony Beltran, 60); Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy (Will Johnson, 60), Will Johnson (Andy Williams. 30), Javier Morales (Collen Warner, 30); Alvaro Saborio, Paulo Jr. (Jean Alexandre, 85).
CHIVAS USA 2011 PRESEASON (2-2-0)
Feb. 1 vs. Fresno Fuego (PDL) at Templeton, Calif.: W 2-0 (goals by Gordon, Estupiñan)
Feb. 7 vs. San Jose Earthquakes at HDC: W 1-0 (Gordon)
Feb. 12 vs. Seattle Sounders at Casa Grande, Ariz.: L 0-1
Feb. 15 vs. Real Salt Lake at Casa Grande, Ariz.: L 0-2
Feb. 18 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps at Casa Grande, Ariz.
Feb. 25 vs. D.C. United at HDC
March 12 vs. FC Dallas at Frisco, Texas