Herriman • Jamison Olave has been here before — kind of.
The former Real Salt Lake player turned assistant coach for the Real Monarchs was last year tasked with taking a team that had recently lost its head coach into the postseason. They lost in the first round, and Martín Vasquez came in.
But Vasquez left almost as soon as he arrived, and Olave was given the nod again. This time, he’s gone where no Monarchs team — or coach for that matter — has gone before: to the USL Championship Final.
The Monarchs will face Louisville City FC on Sunday on the road. It will be the club’s first-ever foray this deep into the playoffs. And much of the credit has gone to Olave for that accomplishment.
Since taking over as interim coach in July, the Monarchs are 13-4-5. That record includes a run in the last few weeks of the season of nine wins and a draw in their last 11 games.
When asked if the team’s results have made Olave’s case stronger for the head job next year, Monarchs general manager Dan Egner seemed to agree that it did.
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“Everything he’s done is a positive for him and worked out in his favor,” Egner told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Some of Olave’s players expressed strong support for him getting the permanent job — or least being in the running for it. Defender Erik Holt made a simple statement when asked if Olave had done enough this season to warrant consideration.
“We’re going to the final,” said Holt, who headed home the game-winning goal against El Paso last weekend.
Egner said he’s seen significant growth in Olave as a coach in the past two seasons. He added that the interim coach brought stability to the team after Vasquez left, and the players responded well to having him steer the ship for the remainder of the season.
Midfielder Luke Mulholland said because Olave is still a young coach, the players find him easier to talk to. He also said the players remember Olave from his playing days with RSL and still have that level of respect for him.
In Mulholland’s eyes, Olave is a shoe-in for the permanent head coaching role.
“There’s no other man for the job,” Mulholland said.
Olave, meanwhile, seemed open to the idea of accepting the head job if he were offered it. But right now, he’s focused on trying to win he club’s first USL title.
“Next year, if the opportunity comes, I’m going to take it,” Olave said. “But I just want to be focused in what we have right now coming up.”