REAL SALT LAKE

Real Salt Lake Town Hall Recap: Update On Coaching, Ownership Searches & More

Oct 15, 2021, 3:55 PM | Updated: 4:11 pm
Photo courtesy: Andy Munoz...
Photo courtesy: Andy Munoz

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake hosted its first “Town Hall” event in quite some time as the club welcomed some of its most passionate fans into the Midfield Club at Rio Tinto Stadium to hear from interim President John Kimball and General Manager Elliot Fall.

Coaching, Ownership Search

The first domino to fall is likely going to be the hiring of a new coach and while Fall did not specify finalists necessarily there was still news that was broken.

Firstly, the remaining six regular-season games and impending playoff games will play a role in the decision regarding who the new manager will be. However, Fall was quoted stating that it is unfair to judge current interim manager Pablo Mastroeni entirely on the work he has done since taking over as interim a few months ago.

The task that Mastroeni was dealt with was grueling. It is incredibly difficult to take over a club in the middle of the season and expect the changes in the system to immediately pay off. Fall understands that Mastroeni will be able to implement his system far more effectively with the use of an off-season. However, Mastroeni has shown the ability to have an immediate effect on the players, as has been shown throughout his interim tenure.

The decision on a new manager will likely come following the conclusion of the season, whenever that may be. Fall recently spoke on a local radio station where he stated that a decision will likely be made within the next 10 to 14 days. Whether that timeframe holds true or not will not be known because a public announcement on new management will not occur until the season is over, for obvious reasons.

The new manager will not only have a strong coaching philosophy but will “more importantly” be a leader and understand the community, as Fall emphasized.

On the ownership front, the timeframe is much vaguer. Earlier this year Major League Soccer Commissioner was quoted saying that he is hopeful new ownership takes control of Real Salt Lake by the end of the year. With the days and months dwindling, Kimball confirmed that he is still optimistic that Real Salt Lake will have new ownership by the conclusion of 2021. However, the unknown remains prevalent and no specific details on timeframe could be confirmed.

Albert Rusnák’s Future

Real Salt Lake captain Albert Rusnák is in the final year of his contract. Fall admitted that he does not know what the future holds when discussing Rusnák in particular, but did state that he is optimistic the star attacking-midfielder will return next year and believes that Rusnák would like to stay.

Rusnák’s team and the club are in and have been in open communication with one and another as it relates to a new deal.

Freddy Juarez Departure

More news was discussed regarding the unexpected departure of former manager Freddy Juarez. Fall told the room filled with fans that former Real Salt Lake and current Seattle Sounders General Manager Garth Lagerway called him to request permission to speak with Freddy.

Fall admitted that it is a club policy that all employees have the right to speak with interested parties and that the club will never deny an employee of that right. He also mentioned that he firmly believes that it is paramount all employees want to work for the club, and if they do not then they are free to depart, which is why the club policy exists.

The One(s) That Got Away

The most interesting answer from the Town Hall came following a question where a fan asked for specific names of players that nearly came to the club that didn’t.

After some consideration, Fall admitted that the Academy duo of Richard Ledezma and Sebastian Soto still stung to this day. Ledezma is currently playing for PSV in Holland while Soto plays for Porto B in Portugal. Fall also confirmed that Real Salt Lake does hold their MLS rights so if either or both of them decided to come back to North America they will likely don the Real Salt Lake kit. He also confessed that he is optimistic that one day they will play for Real Salt Lake.

The other name mentioned was Krzysztof Piątek. The Polish striker who was playing for KS Cracovia, a small club in Croatia, and Real Salt Lake had the chance to negotiate with him. However, members of the club at the time (that are no longer there) decided that he was not worthy of bringing in. Piątek was then signed to Genoa before signing with Italian giant AC Milan for 35 million euros where he scored 13 goals in 36 appearances. He now plays for Hertha BSC in the Bundesliga.

Jefferson Savarino

Jefferson Savarino was sold with one year left on his contract because the demands of Savarino were too much for the club to warrant. So, instead of risking him being unhappy and potentially causing disruption in the locker room, the club opted to sell him to Atlético Mineiro in Brazil. Fortunately, as part of the deal, the club was able to negotiate terms as it relates to Savarino’s future such as receiving 40% of any future transfer fee regarding the winger.

Safe Standing & Rio Tinto Upgrades

A safe standing zone will be implemented into Rio Tinto Stadium sooner rather than later, according to Kimball. Multiple clubs across the league have established a safe standing zone that provides a chaotic environment for the most passionate fans to convene. Austin FC, Columbus Crew, and LAFC are three of many clubs that have safe standing already and they are all highly regarded as the toughest environments in the league for opposing teams to play.

When former owner Dell Loy Hansen was still involved with the club a $20 million budget was set for renovations and upgrades to Rio Tinto Stadium. Sadly, with the lack of current ownership, those upgrades will have to wait at least a few more months.

Staying Put

Real Salt Lake will not be moved when new ownership takes over control. Kimball was emphatic when responding to a question regarding the location of Real Salt Lake. He said that the league will not allow for Real Salt Lake to be relocated, the league thinks highly of the soccer community in Utah and is not considering the option of a move.

Real Salt Lake fans can breathe easier knowing that Real Salt Lake will remain in Utah.

Future Town Halls

Although Real Salt Lake is yet to announce any future dates for more town halls. The club did confirm that they hope to have more town hall events happen in the future. If you missed this week’s discussion, do not panic, more will be occurring in the near future.

 

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