Real Salt Lake Manager Freddy Juarez Finds Identity Inspiration Through Coaching Course

Feb 9, 2021, 2:43 PM

Photo courtesy: Real Salt lake...

Photo courtesy: Real Salt lake

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake is hopeful that in 2021 their identity can be solidified. Manager Freddy Juarez is optimistic that his style of soccer will bring fans back to Rio Tinto Stadium in droves.

Juarez, 42, is entering his second season at the helm of the club he has grown to adore. His identity, however, still remains largely unknown to the fanbase, an issue that he feels responsible for.

Many accomplishments were met during 2020 with one of those being a coaching course for Juarez. It was a year-long project and entailed a deep dive study into a world-renowned manager.

Bielsa Ball Incoming

Juarez chose Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa.

Juarez studied “Bielsa Ball,” watched hundreds of hours of film, read books, and was fortunate to get an interview with James Davies; an author who has written many popular books on soccer and has studied the way Bielsa manages his teams.

Make no mistake, Juarez is not trying to transform RSL into a Bielsa replica, that is not possible. Bielsa is one of the most mystical figures in the world game, his teams play with a level of aggression and fearlessness that very few can. His system is intricate and very complex.

“Why don’t I want to be exactly like Leeds? Well, I don’t know how to teach it. It’s like, I can’t try to do something without having knowledge about it. Right?” Juarez told KSL Sports. “There are certain aspects that I have some knowledge about; versatility, possession, movements off the ball, but you know, still the man on man (marking), I don’t feel comfortable teaching that. I’m not just going to try to teach something that’s not a strength of mine.”

Juarez is trying to take certain elements from Bielsa and implement them into his own coaching repertoire. Elements that he feels most comfortable teaching.

“If someone asks you, who is RSL? How do they play? You would say that they are vertical. As soon as there’s an opportunity to be vertical, meaning I want to attack the space in behind the backline, and If that’s not on, I want to attack the highest option after that, which is probably between the lines,” Juarez said. When we are not allowed to do that, then I want to use possession as a tool to recreate an opportunity to do go back to getting him behind,” he added.

When RSL receives the ball there first instinct should be to play the long ball over the top of the backline in an attempt to utilize the space between the defenders and the goalkeeper. If that is not on, Juarez would like his players to then find his teammates who are occupying the space in between the opposing midfielders and defenders. Finally, if the opposing team has done a good job of getting back into a defensive shape then Juarez will look to build his attacks through possession.

It sounds complex, but it isn’t.

Juarez wants to play aggressively, he would like to be as dangerous as possible when going forward but he will only do that when the opportunity arises.

High Press, Swift Finishing

Juarez would also like to apply an aggressive press on opposing teams to try and force turnovers. If RSL can force a turnover in their own half then look for them to pounce.

Bielsa will force opposing teams to pass the ball around his press and more often than not opposing teams struggle to get the ball out of their own half. When Bielsa turns the ball over, especially when the turnover occurs in Leeds attacking half, Bielsa will throw all but two players forward.

Juarez will not be that aggressive. It is not in his nature.

Therefore, as soon as there is a change in possession Juarez will look to implement a structure that involves four to five guys defending and five to six players attacking.

He wants balance, just in case his team loses the ball abruptly.

“I think we were sixth in the league last year when it came to possession, like 54% was our average per game. Great, great, but I don’t want that to come across as if RSL is a possession team. That possession for us has got to be a tool to attack the opponent as soon as we have time and space to play forward,” Juarez concluded.








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Real Salt Lake Manager Freddy Juarez Finds Identity Inspiration Through Coaching Course