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Hackett: Real Salt Lake’s Coaching Search Should Come Down To Two

New England forward Pat Noonan #11 celebrates November 6, 2005 following the defeat of the Chicago Fire during the Eastern Conference Championships at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Revolution won 1-0. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake’s coaching search continues as the organization looks for its next leader. All of the candidates that have been subject to report have been based in the United States, it seems clear that the organization will not bring in a coach from abroad.

The list of names speculated to have had an interview is expansive, ranging from U.S. soccer legend and current manager of San Diego Loyal Landon Donovan to former Real Monarchs head coach and the current Sacramento Republic FC manager Mark Briggs.

But there are two managers in particular that I am fond of. One of them will likely end up as the future manager of the club, in my opinion.

Mastroeni Masterclass

Let’s first start with the most obvious candidate; Pablo Mastroeni.

Mastroeni has managed at the Major League Soccer before when he was in charge of the Colorado Rapids and led the Rapids to their best ever season in 2016. His leadership qualities are superior and his understanding of people is seemingly remarkable.

The players have responded to the change in leadership at the club and the team is playing an exciting brand of soccer that is galvanizing the community. Against Seattle last weekend, Rio Tinto Stadium was home to 19,350 fans, the most since the global pandemic began.

Mastroeni is building his empire. If Real Salt Lake continues to play well, make the playoffs and go on a run in the playoffs, the job is all but Mastroeni’s. Furthermore, the icing on the cake is the style in which the team is playing under Mastroeni. It is exciting, fun, and engaging. The fans are starting to fall for Mastroeni, and for good reason.

Pat Noonan

Noonan has received a second interview with Real Salt Lake, KSL Sports has confirmed. The meeting took place in Utah after General Manager Elliot Fall and Vice President of Soccer Operations Rob Zarkos met with Noonan in Philadelphia last week.

Real Salt Lake is excited about the prospect of working with Noonan who has been mentored by the likes of Bruce Arena as he prepares himself for when his time comes.

Noonan had a playing career that lasted a decade from 2002-12, he then jumped into the coaching realm without hesitation when he joined Bruce Arena at the LA Galaxy where he served as an assistant coach from 2013 to 2016.

In 2017, Noonan followed Arena to the international game where he served as an assistant coach on the USMNT. His final move came in 2018 when he joined Philadelphia Union as an assistant coach, he has been with the Union ever since.

Philadelphia is a club with a lot of similarities to Real Salt Lake. They pride themselves on their academy and have developed a number of globally recognized players such as Brenden Aaronson, Zack Steffen, Mark McKenzie, and Anthony Fontana.

Furthermore, the Union plays an exciting brand of football and has climbed the Eastern Conference to become one of the more formidable teams in all of the league.

Noonan is poised to take over as the number one for a Major League Soccer club sooner rather than later. Whether he survives the interview process with Real Salt Lake is to be determined, but after speaking with executives within the club, I learned that Noonan is a top candidate to fill the vacant management position.

 

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