The Real Salt Lake Front Office Continues To Thrive Despite Ownership Uncertainty
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The signing of Bobby Wood has further solidified the importance of the Real Salt Lake Front Office, which is led by General Manager Elliot Fall and accompanied by his assistant Tony Beltran, Technical Director Kurt Schmid, and Scout Luke Mullholland.
A Negotiating Masterclass
This offseason alone, RSL has signed the aforementioned Bobby Wood, speedster Anderson Julio, and Rubio Rubin to its attacking third. Evidently, the club had put an emphasis on signing creative, instinctual, and entertaining attacking players in an effort to return to the playoffs in 2021 and ultimately bring life back to the disheartened organization.
Professional sporting clubs are at their best when the daily competition within practice breeds excellence. RSL enters the 2021 MLS season with a wealth of talent in the attacking half. So much so, that influential figures within the organization will now likely be rested throughout the season.
RSL is under pressure. More pressure than it has ever felt before. The club is without an owner, they enter 2021 after a 2020 campaign that saw them finish in the second to last position in the Western Conference, and the fanbase is quickly losing interest in the once-proud organization.
Now more than ever, the Front Office has been called upon to help save itself, and boy have they delivered.
Attacking Third Improvements
“We were not dangerous enough going forward last year and I think that was an area of the field that we really needed to focus on this offseason,” GM Elliot Fall said. “And we have been able to bring in a few pieces that we think will make us better,” he added.
Bobby Wood is a player that brings 14 years of development and experience in Germany with him. At 28 years old, he has represented his country and his club(s) with nothing but class. He is a goal scorer, a striker who can influence games without putting the ball in the back of the net. He enjoys playing with his back to the goal, getting under the opponent’s defender’s skin, and “putting his head down and attacking the net,” as he put it.
He is multi-dimensional. He has a name, a proven name.
Wood is the caliber of player who can reignite the soccer landscape in Utah. He has the potential to bring the RSL faithful back to Rio Tinto Stadium in droves. Honestly, he may be the best thing to ever happen to RSL since they won the illustrious MLS Cup in 2009.
Anderson Julio is quick. He is creative and explosive. Manager Freddy Juarez has spoken ad nauseam regarding his attacking style. The first option, if it is on, is a long ball either through the air on along the ground to utilize the space between the backline and goalkeeper. Well, if any player can get on the end of a Pablo Ruiz through ball, Julio is the guy.
And last but not least, Rubio Rubin is a player that has excelled ever since he arrived at RSL late last year. He is a player that was expected to be the next great American goal scorer, and after years of trying to fulfill those expectations overseas, he now has the chance to prove his worth in MLS with his family nearby.
Rubin is instinctual and dynamic. He has a knack for goals and can score in a multitude of ways. He is also a team player, he thrives when his teammates are feeding him the ball and vice versa.
Pressure Is A Privilege
There is only one element to all of these signings that can get in the way of RSL returning to the MLS playoffs in 2021; chemistry. When clubs bring new faces into the equation, occasionally it can disrupt a lockerroom. When new players are brought into an organization, it adds competition to the group that was already present.
“I am competitive, I do not feel pressure. I am an optimist, I am also a realist, I know what this gig represents,” Juarez said when asked if he feels pressure ahead of the 2021 season. “I am loving how it is going, I am loving the day-to-day and I told myself and my staff that we need to enjoy every day. We need to come in and work, and leave every day satisfied without work,” he added.
The locker room dynamic will be a talking point throughout the 2021 season. It was also the biggest headache for second-year Manager Freddy Juarez to navigate. If Juarez plans on coaching RSL for many more years to come, he must learn how to keep the locker room together. If the locker room turns on him and stops believing in his philosophy, Juarez’s legacy at RSL will be cut short and RSL will fail to make a playoff appearance for the second year running.