So where does Real Salt Lake go from here?
No clue. Stay tuned. Assume away. Hop aboard the speculation train and wait for a stop.
RSL on Monday fired Jeff Cassar after a 0-2-1 start to the 2017 season, throwing into flux a season still in its infancy. The attack remained stalled. The fluidity wasn’t enough. But as Cassar pointed out in his discussions with RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen Monday, the dropped points at home played a hefty role in his dismissal after more than three years as head coach.
Whatever the main criteria for Cassar’s firing, RSL now has 31 regular-season games remaining with a team in transition, with a voice of 11 years gone, with results needed in order to simply stay afloat in the unforgiving Western Conference.
"I know whoever comes in next will do extremely well," Cassar said. "The roster is built for success now, it’s built for success in the future and there’s going to be very, very good times for RSL ahead."
Who will it be?
Assistant coach Daryl Shore takes the reins for now on an interim basis. RSL general manager Craig Waibel on a conference call with reporters Monday said the front office will begin reaching out to its list of potential external candidates. Waibel refused to put an ideal timeline on when RSL would hire its fourth head coach in club history.
"The most important thing for us right now is to get this next decision correct and all of our energy and all of our effort will be put into doing exactly that," Waibel said. "I will tell you that the sense of urgency to move forward is definitely something we are taking into consideration. We will work diligently over the next couple of weeks and hopefully the process is certainly shorter than longer. We have no intention of dragging this out."
Waibel went out of his way to shoot down upcoming speculative stories around whomever RSL tabs.
"I am very private in the way that I do my business," he said. "I’m very private in the way that our organization does things. I don’t have social media on purpose. And any rumors that may be out there certainly will not come from within the walls of our organization. It will be a very private search. It’ll be thorough and the next announcement that you’ll hear that has validity to it will come at a press conference when we’re announcing the head coach."
One name that fans and MLS media members have regularly linked is Mike Petke, the former New York Red Bulls coach who RSL hired to be head coach of Real Monarchs this offseason. Asked if he thought the Petke hiring put extra pressure on him in 2017, Cassar said it did not.
"I didn’t feel it all. I was part of that [hiring process]," he said. "When you’re building an organization, not just RSL, you want to put the best people you can in positions and when Mike was hired, I thought it was fantastic for the organization, fantastic for those young men on that team to be getting coached by him."
Reached by phone Monday night, RSL right back Tony Beltran said the move came as a "complete shock" to him. The veteran defender said this change will be trial for the locker room. Reflecting on Cassar taking over for Kreis in Dec. 2013, Beltran was quick to remind that it was an internal shift.
"Essentially our hands were kind of held through that change," he said. "This is a much more jarring change. It’s going to be a big onus on the players in order to carry the weight of this team on its shoulders. What we cannot — absolutely cannot do — is call this season a wash."
What’s next for Cassar?
"I wish I had an answer to that," he said. Cassar said he was diagnosed with a concussion Monday a day after a ball in practice ricocheted off the ground and hit him directly in the face.
"I’m not feeling awesome right now," he said. "I just know that I love this game and I love coaching and I love giving and I feel like this game has given me so much and I always want to give back to it as much as possible."
After Jeff Cassar's firing, where does RSL go next?
So where does Real Salt Lake go from here?
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