"He was always observing," Fraser recalled Thursday. "He was a pretty quiet kid initially but it became very evident very quickly that he was one of those guys who was learning, he was always learning.
"And he was a tremendous player as a 21-year-old and just got better as time went on. We forged a pretty good friendship really quickly. I always appreciated his work ethic and the way he thought and continues to think about the game — that's been one of our biggest bonds."
The two have been reunited with the 48-year-old Fraser signing on as an assistant coach under Vanney at Toronto FC.
Vanney, now 40, was an assistant to then head coach Fraser at Chivas USA.
"Our relationship goes back many many years ... at the end of the day, we see things very similarly and yet differently enough that the conflict is good," Fraser said.
For Vanney, Fraser is a valued friend who knows the league inside and out. Fraser played 10 seasons in MLS for the Los Angeles Galaxy, Colorado Rapids and Columbus Crew from 1996 to 2005, appearing in 260 regular-season games.
The former U.S. international and two-time MLS defender of the year started his coaching career at Real Salt Lake as an assistant from 2007 to 2010, helping the team win the MLS Cup in 2009. He was head coach at Chivas in 2011 and 2012.
"For me he was a competitor, he was a leader," said Vanney. "Obviously an phenomenal athlete but also a very savvy tactical player in his approach. And was always good for young players and bringing players along."
Fraser, who spent the last two years as an assistant coach with the New York Red Bulls, joins Nick Theslof, Dan Calichman and Jon Conway on Vanney's coaching staff.
Assistant coach Jason Bent will spend more time with the club's new USL Pro affiliate.
Jim Liston, director of sport science, and Michael Rabasca, director of cognitive development, are also on Vanney's staff. Fraser said he was drawn to Toronto by Vanney and the club's resources and infrastructure.
"We really feel like this is a platform from which you can make something special."
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