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Real Salt Lake: Jeff Cassar's start to coaching career best in modern MLS era

Published May 18, 2014 6:53 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sandy • Jeff Cassar's 11-game unbeaten start to his head coaching career in Major League Soccer is the best in the modern era of the league. The league abandoned the MLS shootout rules in 1999, signaling the end of that phase of professional soccer in America when a match either ended in a win or a draw.

The L.A. Galaxy were led to a 12-0-0 start under Lothar Osiander in 1996 during that time.

Real Salt Lake's 6-0-5 start under Cassar, who replaced longtime coach Jason Kreis after the he accepted the job with expansion franchise New York City FC in December, has propelled the 40-year-old former MLS goalkeeper to the second-best start in league history.

But that hasn't been on his mind.

"Not at all," Cassar said during training this week. "It's awesome, but we really don't care all about that. We're trying to get three points, especially at home and distance ourselves from some of these teams, because if we let points slip away, [teams in the Western Conference] can get hot and strike."

A new kind of trio

No Kyle Beckerman, no Nick Rimando, no Alvaro Saborio.

Which means hello, Cole Grossman, Jeff Attinella and Devon Sandoval.

With the three RSL stars potentially bound for this summer's FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Grossman, Attinella and Sandoval earned starts against the Colorado Rapids Saturday night in the first meeting between the Rocky Mountain rivals. Without Beckerman, Rimando and Saborio in 2013 — absent for six matches due to international play — RSL went 2-2-2.

"Everybody we have on this roster is completely capable of contributing throughout the whole season or a portion of the season when called upon," said defender Tony Beltran. "If anything, I'm excited for a number of reasons because Kyle, Nick and Sabo deserve this opportunity that they have in front of them and then also excited for the guys who are still here who are going to step into those roles because it's a big opportunity for them."

Attinella started two matches on April 5 and 12 when Rimando was forced to miss games with a knee injury. Grossman has appeared three times in 2014 — all as sub — while Sandoval has been seen action five times off the bench.

El Capitan Morales

A week after recording the first hat trick of his professional career, Javier Morales wore RSL's armband against the rival Rapids. The 34-year-old midfielder will captain the club while Beckerman is away with the U.S. men's national team World Cup camp.