It’s not often a sports franchise will go to a championship and replace its head coach all in less than two weeks. Real Salt Lake lost the MLS Cup just twelve days ago and soon after found out their top-notch head coach Jason Kreis was leaving for greener pastures with the expansion NYCFC.
The search for a new coach began. They didn’t have to look far nor take a long time time to make their decision. On Wednesday, RSL announced that it found the new coach in Jeff Cassar, an assistant that has been with the club since Kreis got the job in 2007.
Cassar was a goalkeeper during his younger days, making appearances for several MLS teams, but most notably with the Miami Fusion and FC Dallas. This will be his first time as a head coach, and only the third in RSL history.
The search for a coach started with two basic candidates, Cassar and former RSL assistant Robin Fraser (now an assistant with the New York Red Bulls). Cassar himself asked the ownership why they would search for anyone outside the organization. It’s a bold question, but one that apparently worked.
“Jeff’s got a great relationship with our current team and current players,” Lagerwey said. “We wanted as little shakeup as possible. We wanted stability and continuity, and Jeff takes a check to all of those boxes.”
With the move, RSL enables the club the best possible opportunity to remain at the quality they already are. The past year treated RSL well as they made it to two cup matches, one being the MLS Cup, and the other the U.S. Open, but of which were unfortunately lost. It’s always rough to make it so close and still miss out, but few teams can produce that kind of solid success to make it so far in two different competitions.
Cassar also had the chance to follow Kreis to New York, but chose not to take it:
Bill Manning said Jeff Cassar did have an opportunity to leave with Jason Kreis to go to NYCFC. #RSL
— Chris Kamrani (@chriskamrani) December 18, 2013
Now Cassar holds the reigns to the 2nd place team of the 2013 Western Conference. How much change will he induce once the season begins? Can we hope to see the same possession-oriented, pass-happy style that Kreis was able to employ so well? It’s something that will be determined over the next few months, and personally, it makes me even more excited for the season to begin.