COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – When Colorado Rapids midfielder Jonathan Lewis was a member of New York City FC, he faced off against Robin Fraser and Toronto FC twice a year. Most of the time, it didn’t end well.
“The first time I played against them, we lost 4-nil and they passed the ball around the park against us,” Lewis recalled.
Having joined Colorado as head coach this week, Fraser is looking to employ a similar style to the one he built alongside Greg Vanney at TFC – in his words “manipulating the opponent” – while playing a possession-based style focused on ball movement and player intelligence.
It’s the type of soccer that Lewis is eager to be a part of again.
“I think we have really good individuals, but getting a coach like Robin who has these ideas, these movements, it’s going to be good for our team,” he said.
Lewis offered additional praise for the Rapids’ new gaffer, drawing comparisons to his former head coach, Arsenal legend and current OGC Nice manager Patrick Vieira.
“Just from the first session, he reminded me a lot of Patrick,” said Lewis. “He wants to play, he’s about detailed movements, little movement to create space with the ball, without the ball. It took me back to my first session with Patrick.”
At just 22-years-old, and having already received multiple call-ups to the U.S. Men’s National Team, Lewis is still seen as a bright, up-and-coming star in Major League Soccer. Looking at what Fraser has accomplished as both a coach and player, he’s hoping that he can use Fraser’s guidance to evolve into an important regular contributor for both club and country.
“He has experience playing with top players so not only can he help me in terms of getting in better positions and playing a style that suits me better,” said Lewis. “I think he can also mentor me. He’s coached top players like [Sebastian] Giovinco and Jozy Altidore and he’s played with those types of players. I think he’s good for all of us young players here.”
Beginning with this weekend’s trip to face the New York Red Bulls, the Rapids will have seven games remaining to the 2019 regular season. They will serve as both an audition of sorts for players on the current roster ahead of the offseason as well as an opportunity for Fraser to implement his ideas.
“It’s just about getting used to a new culture and different styles of play,” Lewis said. “Every one of us has to adjust to that now and play as best as we can in the system.”