Experience tells Fraser Blast can get it going

Newly added veteran confident of turnaround

Soccer

March 16, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

When defender Iain Fraser signed with the Blast three weeks ago - packing his bags in Sacramento, Calif., meeting his new teammates in Kansas City one night and playing there the next - he was well aware of the situation.

The Blast's season, well past the midway point, had been filled with inconsistency, injuries and more close losses than wins.

Since then?

Just one win, five losses, a couple of more injuries and a brawl that resulted in the suspension of three teammates.

All that has left the Blast 14-19 and still locked into the fourth and final playoff spot in the Major Indoor Soccer League. The team is down to 14 players as it prepares for tomorrow afternoon's game in Kansas City against the Comets.

Fraser isn't fazed.

"It all comes with the territory," said the 37-year-old veteran. "This is still very much salvageable. We're still in the driver's seat for the playoff spot and all we need is to get things together here.

"One of the things I've learned in all my experiences is a team that's successful finds a way to get past these type of things because it's going to happen to every team."

That's 17 seasons of indoor experience to fall back on, precisely why the Blast made him its first-round pick in last month's allocation draft.

Fraser last played with the Sacramento Knights of the now-defunct World Indoor Soccer League, and also served as head coach and general manager of the club before it folded, while three other former WISL teams merged with the MISL.

"It's good to have him aboard," said Blast head coach Kevin Healey. "We know he's going to give us a professional effort at this point and he'll always be ready to play. He's steady and he understands where we're at here. He's got to be shaking his head a little bit with all that's been going on, but we need his solid effort."

Fraser is a fit, steady player who stays composed and communicates well in back. In simplest terms, "He knows the game," said Blast midfielder Paul Wright, who played with Fraser in Kansas City.

At this point, Fraser knows it upside down.

He's enjoyed championship seasons in Kansas City and Sacramento. He's endured injury-plagued seasons such as the one in Kansas City, when the team played 40 regular-season games and never had the same lineup from one game to the next.

And he had a one-year stint in Baltimore, playing alongside current assistant coach Billy Ronson for the Blast of the original MISL in the 1991-92 season.

"I liked it here very much, so there was definitely no ill feelings when I was drafted because it was like, `All right, I'll go back to Baltimore,' " said Fraser. "I still have some friends here I've already seen since coming back, so it's been good."

To Ronson, it's like Fraser picked up right where he left off.

"Iain is the same now as he was then," said Ronson. "He's always been very confident in his own abilities ever since I've known him, and obviously that's why he's played so long.

"He's not afraid of anybody and just basically gets on with the game. He's very smart, doesn't get himself exposed and he plays the easy ball - that all comes with experience."

Fraser puts his thumb and index finger less than an inch away, convinced his new team is that close to turning things around.

"You can look at this team and see it's not going to take much to get things going the right way," he said. "I just want to help this team get better.

"At this stage, I'm just really about trying to win championships. I've won a couple in my career and would like to win a couple more and I see a real opportunity here if we can pick things up. That's my goal."

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